Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire

Company Holiday Party Tips

If employee engagement is on your list of things to improve in your company for the new year, what better time to start than the holidays? Not all companies partake in the holiday celebration, but many do and usually it comes in the form of a company holiday party. Just recently, Spark Hire touched on employee engagement over the holidays and promised to give out some more tips on having a company holiday party.

It may seem like a simple gesture, but the truth is throwing a company-wide or department-wide party can be a difficult and stressful ordeal. Especially if you want to throw an appropriate and professional one. Sometimes the party planning will fall on the HR department and if it’s a flop, you may never hear the end of it. So before you get to planning or throwing a company holiday party, take a look at a few of the tips we provide below for some help.

Although the holidays are generally a very busy and stressful time, most people want to enjoy the friendly and ‘jolly’ atmosphere. That may be even more true if you work for a company that boasts great company culture. Therefore, having a holiday party may just seem like second-nature. Let’s take a look at some of the things you can do to ensure your company is having good, clean fun at the holiday party.

Leave Religion Out
If your company is diverse, as it should be, then chances are not everyone will be celebrating Christmas. That is why this is not called a company “Christmas Party.” If your company wants to throw a party, then you should not leave others out by creating an event centered around a religious holiday. The truth of the matter is, many different cultures and religions partake in some sort of celebration this time of year and the politically correct way to refer to this season is “the holidays.” Be conscious of the many religions and cultures in your office and be sure not to segregate or leave a particular group out.

In the same light, be sure not to focus on one religion during your holiday party. Leave out prayers or religious customs and focus on having a secular holiday party. If you cannot or do not want to do that, then make sure your company holiday party is not mandatory. You cannot force your employees to partake in any kind of religious activity, so certainly be aware of this when planning your party. Which leads us to our next tip…

Mandatory Company Party?
Before you make the company party mandatory, or hint that your employees are expected to be there, understand that any mandatory event you throw outside of business hours must be compensated. Meaning, if you throw a party outside business hours and tell your employees they have to be there, then you have to pay them for their time. That is why it is best to have a company party during business hours or to simply make the party optional.

In fact, having your company party during business hours is much more convenient for your employees. As you know, the holidays are a busy time and employees may not have the time in their schedule to fit the week night company party into their schedule. If your company hosts an annual holiday party at a specific venue, then of course it’s tradition and most of your employees will show up. If you do throw an optional holiday party and many of your employees fail to show up, it may prove that you have a lot of work to do in terms of employee engagement, company culture or overall management style. When employees don’t show support for fun work events like a holiday party, they likely aren’t very thrilled to be working for your company and changes should be made.

Keep It Classy
Mistletoe is part of the holidays, but does it have a place at the company party? The answer is a big ‘no.’ It’s a cute addition to a family or friend holiday party, but it can make things very uncomfortable and awkward at a company party. Chances are the majority of your employees do not want to get that close to their coworkers- nor should they! On top of that, if there is alcohol involved the situation can get really sticky. Leave the mistletoe out and keep it professional this year.

Careful With Alcohol

This should go without saying, but for some reason every year there tends to be that one employee- or a couple of employees- that drink way too much at the holiday party. Since everyone is an adult, one may think that it’s a no-brainer to avoid getting drunk at the company holiday party, but it still happens. If you are planning the party, think about the kind of venue you want to hold it at. Are you thinking of going to a bar? If so, this can be a very bad idea. There is endless alcohol and the party can turn into a big mess full of embarrassment. Try and find a neutral venue like a restaurant where alcohol is available but is not the main focus.

Similarly, if you are going to have an open bar make sure it is monitored. Have a cut-off time or a drink limit for each employee/attendee. This is even more important when you learn of the law that holds you responsible for any injuries that result from intoxication at the company holiday party. Be sure to monitor drinking and let everyone know they should keep it professional.

A company holiday party should be a fun and festive event for all involved. However, the potential for disaster is big when not handled correctly. Be sure to follow some of these tips, and remember to keep it professional and classy.

Do you have some company holiday party tips? Have you attended a company party that turned out to be a disaster? Share with us in the comments section below!

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by Todd_Hobert

Nicole Nicholson

Nicole is the Content Editor for Spark Hire and mainly writes for and edits the work for the Spark News blog. She graduated in 2010 with a BA in Journalism from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. She has a passion for writing, editing, and pretty much anything to do with content. In her free time she frequents the Chicago music scene and writes reviews on shows for her own personal blog. Connect with Nicole and Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter