'Tis the season... for the good ol' company holiday party. While fun and festiveness are the names of the game, the holiday company party can be something that requires intelligent decision-making and expectation-setting. Here are a few company holiday party ideas and tips to help small business owners go about it right...
- Know Your Guests. Obviously most of your guest list will be made up of employees, but you also need to consider other audiences. What about clients and vendors? Unless there is a highly valuable relationship with a client or a vendor, they usually don't expect an invite. Though sometimes just the gesture can be worth it, even if you are certain they won't take you up on it. Then you need to consider employee spouses. This usually depends on a few things like venue, budget, size of team, company culture... You undoubtedly have a feel for these things, so usually you're gut is right.
- How to Party. We've all heard horror stories of holiday parties gone wrong so there's no need to get into the details. The point is, you need to level set expectations. Tell your guests what they're in for. Schedule the party for a date that actually works for people. If you plan to do a gift exchange, say so—and set a price limit! Be clear about bar options. Have set hours. Don't put together a party that counteracts your company culture (i.e., don't throw a formal event if your work environment is casual and collegial). BONUS TIP: Make attendance optional. There's nothing worse than a mandatory party unless your goal is to truly suck the fun out of everything.
- Provide Options. If you're company's small, chances are you know you're employees better than you know some of your own friends, but you still want to provide options—specifically around food and drink. If you're serving alcohol, have non-alcoholic alternatives. Perhaps reconsider the all red meat menu. Double check allergies. Do all of these checks in advance to make sure folks are comfortable and can actually have a good time.
- Be Safe. As mentioned, having a good time, relaxing with colleagues is what holiday parties are all about, but it's your job as chief to make sure your guests are safe. Have a number for a cab service handy. Better yet, use Uber.
Follow these company holiday ideas and tips (and trust your instincts) and all will be merry!