I think we've all been to enough office parties to know that they can be stressful to plan and sometimes even to attend. The issue with having a work party is that co-workers often don't know how to interact an at office party. Many people act differently when they are with their personal friends than when they are with their supervisors, peers or subordinates. Combine spouses and dates to that mix, blend with alcohol, lightly shake and you have the makings of a possibly disastrous evening.
The idea of an office party is a good one. The office provides food and sometimes alcohol as a way to say thank you to employees and offers time for interaction between workers who might not have a chance to interact otherwise. These parties usually take place around the time of the holidays in December. Some offices also have parties for employee birthdays, the arrival of babies or impending weddings.
Unfortunately the party that is planned with good intentions does not always turn out the way it was intended. Co-workers often stick with the people they work with daily or more often they interact with their own guest for the evening. Another negative that can occur besides a lack of interaction is that a party that is too lavish may cause feelings of resentment for employees. It sounds odd but often, especially if a company has experienced down-sizing, a party that is over the top expensive may cause employees to question if the company is actually experiencing financial trouble.
This doesn't mean that office parties should be foregone all together. There are things to keep in mind when planning an office party that will help with the above issues:
- Plan the party someplace away from the office that is as nice as you can afford. It is not necessarily a good idea to have a party at the boss's house because often the corporate hierarchy will still be apparent when you're in their home. Choose an unusual location if you can. Art museums, aquariums even zoos often offer meeting space for parties and many provide catering as well.
- Think about hiring entertainment like a band, DJ, magician, local singing group, whatever you can afford that will help get things going at the beginning of the party.
- If you provide alcohol think about providing employees with drink tickets to try and curb overindulgence. Limit tickets to two perhaps for each employee.
- Don't skimp on food. Have plenty of it and offer options for vegetarians and other diet restrictions.
- Think of party favors as holiday gifts. Make them be more than just trinkets that say "thanks for coming to the party". This is a good time to show your employees your appreciation.
- Have assigned seating and put people from different departments together to get to know each other more.
- Be sure that as many employees as possible will be able to attend the event. If this means closing the office for a night then it is worth it to do that so that nobody feels excluded.
- If your party is going to be huge and you have the budget, consider hiring a party planner.
There is no reason to be overly stressed when planning an office party and if you keep the above tips in mind, your guests will actually enjoy getting the chance to blow off some steam and your boss will appreciate the work you put into planning the party and that is never a bad thing.