Christmas parties don't have to be the most stressful time of the year.
The office Christmas party is the time of year when awkward work acquaintances and unspoken crushes can be revealed under the influence of alcohol. For some, it’s a moment of dread; for others, it’s an opportunity to make new friends or find romance. No matter how you look at it, the office Christmas party presents a challenge that requires careful planning to ensure that everyone has fun and feels comfortable. If you’re planning your company’s first Christmas party and don’t want it to be the first in a string of failures, we have some advice for you. Don’t stress about your preparations too much – after all, there are plenty of other companies with annual Christmas parties that fail spectacularly every year. You will be able to learn from their mistakes and plan accordingly so that everything goes smoothly on the big day.
The most important rule when organising a successful office Christmas party is to have a clear plan for the evening. If you’re not sure what you’re going to do with your guests, it will show. If you don’t have a clear plan for the evening, you are more likely to be disorganised and you might lose control of the event. It’s best to have a set program for the evening that takes account of the fact that people will be drinking alcohol. Alcohol lowers inhibitions and can make people more aggressive or excitable. You need to be able to bring things under control if necessary. It’s a good idea to run your plan for the evening by your HR representative or your management team to make sure that it’s appropriate in terms of tone and content. You also might want to let them know how many people are expected to attend so that they can make preparations to get enough food and drink.
Another way to keep the evening organised is to plan some games and activities. This can help to break the ice between your guests and provide a source of enjoyment while they are waiting for the food to be served. It can also give you a few moments to clear the plates and reset the tables before the food is ready. A good range of games and activities will appeal to a wide range of people, and you can choose the ones that will keep your guests engaged for as long as necessary. Be careful about choosing games that demand guests to reveal personal details about themselves, as this can be inappropriate if people are not yet comfortable enough to talk openly with one another. You can choose from many games and activities available from your local party supply store or online. You can also make your own games and activities to keep the event fresh and exciting each year. One idea that has become a modern Christmas classic is the Secret Santa Party. In this game, each guest buys a gift for another guest and wraps it up. The guests then draw names out of a hat and are responsible for giving their assigned guest the gift at the party.
Part of the challenge of any office Christmas party is to find food that is both easy enough to prepare and tasty enough that nobody will be complaining about the menu when the party is over. At a holiday party, you’re going to need to decide what kind of menu you want to serve. You can go for a traditional Christmas dinner menu or you can go for something a little lighter and more refreshing. If you go for a traditional menu, you will need to get it started early so that it is ready when the guests arrive. A lighter menu is often a better option for an office party, unless you want people to fall asleep while they are eating. A Mexican-themed menu, for example, is festive but also light and easy to digest.
If you know that some of your guests will be getting drunk, you will need to make arrangements for them to get home safely. You can do this by confirming transportation times and locations with the guests ahead of time. If you don’t want to put people off by asking them too early, you can ask them to confirm their details at the same time as they RSVP to the party invitation. You can also ask them to confirm how intoxicated they will be at the end of the party before they drive away. This is a good trick for getting people to be honest about their state and will make it easier for you to decide who should be given a ride home.
The best way to make sure that nobody is drinking too much at the office Christmas party is to ask everyone what they would like to drink. You can do this by setting up a bar with a few different options of non-alcoholic drinks and alcohol. If you are providing a bar, try to keep it simple and avoid investing too much money in fancy or complicated cocktails. If you go down this route, you will find that your guests will drink too much too quickly and you will have to replace the alcohol too often. A simple selection of soft drinks and non-alcoholic beers will provide something for everyone. If you are providing alcohol, try to keep the bar simple and provide a few different options. You don’t want to have too many options or you will find that your guests will drink too much too quickly. There’s a reason why bartenders always say “less is more”.
Finally, remember that the best way to make the office Christmas party a success is to enjoy it yourself. If you are nervous about how things are going, or you’re stressing about last-minute details, your guests will notice and it will put a damper on the party. You need to go into the office Christmas party with a positive attitude, smiling and laughing with your guests. If you make it clear that you are enjoying yourself, everyone else will have a good time too.