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A guide to hosting the perfect workplace Christmas party

2021 has been a challenging year on many fronts, and as the working year starts to wrap up, people’s attention turns to the end of year celebrations. Your Christmas event is an excellent opportunity for business owners and leaders to reconnect with their team, thank suppliers and customers, and recognise achievements. It’s also a chance to reflect on progress and set the stage for a successful 2022. 

To do that, you’ll want to ensure that your event sets the right tone and achieves the desired outcomes. Here are six ideas to keep your event festive and fun and not infamous (for the wrong reasons).

Get input 

While many people may be eager to catch up with colleagues, others may be less inclined.  Same too with the style of the event.  An afternoon of drinking or dodgem cars might be one person’s idea for the best event ever and another person’s idea of hell.

Consider the needs and expectations of all your guests, and where relevant, get input. There are many ways to connect and engage with each other beyond the traditional.  You could consider volunteering, an outdoor BBQ or picnic, a cooking class or a painting class. 

It’s still work

Even though the calendar invitation might include the word ‘party’, don’t forget it still works.  This rule applies regardless of the function’s location – for example, the office or an external venue. 

Your organisation’s code of conduct and workplace laws apply, and if anyone oversteps the mark, there are likely consequences – both reputationally and legally. 

Before the event, communicate expectations with attendees. Make sure they know it’s a work event and that while everyone wants to kick back and relax, there are still rules to follow. 

Be a good host

For people who joined during the year, this might be the first time they’ve met people face to face, and it can be daunting to walk into an unknown crowd. 

You are the host, so go out of your way to ensure new people feel welcomed and introduce them to their colleagues. 

The event is a great chance to bond and get to know people in a more relaxed environment. Talk to people across the team and organisation, and don’t spend too much time with one group of people or individuals. 

Don’t talk shop

You want to keep the conversation casual and fun. Avoid conversations that could offend, and be careful about spending the entire time asking people about work.  

There’s nothing worse than being stuck with someone at the Christmas party who is peppering you with questions and drilling you on your work when all you want to do is not think about work. Don’t be that boss. 

Be interesting and interested in what people have to say.  For example, ask them about upcoming holidays and outside interests.  The event is your chance to show a different side to you and find out more about your colleagues.

Ditch the phone

Many of us are addicted to our phones. If you spend much of the event on your phone, you miss interacting with your colleagues and team members.  Also, it can come across as rude because they are likely to interpret your behaviour as a disinterest in them.

Be respectful about taking photos and what you share on social media.  Not everyone wants to have their picture plastered on Facebook or Instagram, so make sure you ask before you act. Also, consider what images your organisation wants to post on social media.

Safety comes first

While COVID has rained on many parades over the last two years, the last thing you want is for your event to be a ‘super spreader’. That won’t be a fun way to end the year.  So, while it may sound boring, it’s essential to practice all COVID safe measures.

Be responsible when it comes to alcohol. Make sure there’s plenty of food as hungry people drink more and become intoxicated faster.  If your event is at a public venue, remind the staff that anyone intoxicated should not be served more alcohol.

You want everyone to have fun and get home safely. If you see someone who has perhaps overdone it, don’t judge.  Instead, find an appropriate way to help. It might be ensuring they get safely into a taxi or finding one of their trusted friends take them home. 

Lastly, before the event, work out how people will get home – quickly and safely. 

Read more: How to manage workflows of skeleton staff over the Christmas period

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Michelle Gibbings

Michelle Gibbings

Michelle Gibbings is a workplace expert and the author of three books, including her latest 'Bad Boss: What to do if you work for one, manage one or are one'. https://www.thebadboss.com.au

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