It’s that time of year again…well, sort of! Everyone is dressed (or in their pyjamas!) and ready for another corporate Christmas party…even if it’s a virtual one.

Throwing a Successful Corporate Christmas Party

We cover how to make your virtual Christmas party safe and jolly for everyone in this post. But today, we’re going to focus on a traditional corporate Christmas party and how to ensure it’s a success.

Depending on where you live, your in-person party may be smaller (or not happening until later).

But when your party DOES take place, these tips will help ensure everyone has a good time, gets home safely, and will be able to show their face at work on Monday morning.

Make sure there’s enough to eat

People often show up at a corporate Christmas party with a mixture of nerves and excitement. The first trip is to the bar to loosen up and they continue to sip as they mingle.

This is a critical time to ensure that food is served! Many corporate functions don’t serve food until dinner, at which time employees have over-consumed both due to celebrating and hunger.

Having some appetizers available beforehand will help keep your employees from drinking their hunger as well as absorb some of the alcohol to slow the effects.

Maintain control of the alcohol

It’s important to control the type and amount of alcohol being served.

This can be done a few ways:

  • If you’re serving dinner with pre-drinks, you can have a plan for how much alcohol is served and at what pace. A cocktail before dinner, wine with the meal, and specialty coffees after, etc.
  • If your event is less formal, you can still maintain some control by providing drink tickets. This informally tells everyone how many drinks is the norm.
  • The allure of an open bar is often too much for people to pass up. By providing drink tickets, it’s an extra step needed in getting a drink, which often slows down the impulse ordering.
  • You may also consider only serving beer and wine. People consume these more slowly than highballs which subsequently slows the rate of alcohol into the bloodstream.

Plan ahead for scenarios

Even with the best planning measures in place, you may encounter a situation where an exit strategy is required for either you or another employee.

It’s much better to be prepared for situations you may encounter than to potentially embarrass someone who has had too much to drink or becomes too vocal. It’s important to consider this could be the spouse of an employee as well as an employee.

People tend to find courage in the more casual environment of a corporate Christmas party…Especially when drinks are flowing and they may muster the courage to corner a senior leader for the annual airing of grievances!

Make sure your team is looking out for each other and have a signal if an intervention would be helpful. A quick distraction can help to save face and further embarrassment back at the office.

At the end of the day, you want your employees to have had fun and not feel embarrassed to return to the office on Monday.

Of course, if you have a large event, make sure security is present.

Alcohol and workplace tensions have come to a head at more than one corporate event. It’s much better for all involved to have this taken care of by professionals if needed.

(Don’t miss this post: Your Organization Received a Sexual Harassment Claim. Now What?)

Plan for safe commutes

One advantage of a virtual corporate Christmas party is not having to worry about employees getting home safely! But if your party is still taking place in its traditional format this year, safety needs to be your first concern.

Make sure everyone has a safe way to get home after celebrating with friends and colleagues.

Taxi vouchers are the most common way for companies to do this efficiently. If you’re celebrating away from the office, providing hotel rooms or a discount on rooms makes sure employees won’t be driving until the morning.

But if you’re on a tight budget, there are other creative options.

Some companies provide their own drivers to take employees home after. This could be your senior team who have abstained from drinking to provide employees a novel ‘taxi’ ride home. Others have employees who volunteer to do this.

Obviously, your employees’ safety is of utmost concern and we want to make sure everyone makes it home safely after an event. But this is also critical for your company’s well-being, as you could be liable if you are providing alcohol and not providing a safe alternative to driving.

Pandemic safety considerations for a corporate Christmas party

Speaking of safety, if your corporate Christmas party is still happening during the pandemic, you’ll have extra safety precautions to keep in mind.

First, you’ll need to be absolutely sure you’re following local guidelines and laws. Further, you’ll also want to ensure you’re choosing the safest, best option for your employees.

As tempting as it might be to throw your traditional corporate Christmas party, it might not be the right time for it.

If your party is going ahead, these are some of the safety measures you’ll need to consider:

  • Providing masks for all guests
  • Ensuring adequate space for social distancing and enforcing it
  • Setting up hand sanitizing stations
  • Limiting contact with high-touch surfaces (i.e., a plated dinner versus a buffet)
  • You may need to limit guest numbers and only invite employees rather than their whole families too

Be present

Make it understood that leaders should be mingling and chatting with people throughout the night.

This is a fun event, after all! And getting to know your employees and their families on a personal level should be a lot of fun.

Keeping the conversation light and fun also helps to mitigate any of the aforementioned issues, as well as grows loyalty and commitment from your team.

You will have a much more productive and cohesive team if people feel valued and seen as a person in the office. (Here are 10 Creative & Fun Ways to Thank Your Employees!)

We hope you find some of these tips useful and have a safe and happy corporate Christmas party. We know your party might look a little different this year, but we think these tips will be especially useful in the years to come!

Hopefully, by planning ahead, you mitigate many of the common work party issues and have no need for HR help in the morning. But if you find yourselves in a different situation, we’re always here to help you with next steps.

Contact us at info@activatehr.ca to find out how we can assist you with workplace investigations and HR Solutions.

Follow us on LinkedIn to stay current on all our news and articles.

Did you learn a lot from this post about throwing a successful corporate Christmas party? Here are three more to check out:

Your Organization Received a Sexual Harassment Claim. Now What?
Are You a Bosshole? Or Do You Work for One?
Effectively Investigating Workplace Bullying and Harassment Hazards and Incidents

This article was originally published in 2016, but has been updated in 2020 just for you!

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