Do I Have to Throw a Company Holiday Party?

Organizing holiday parties can be stressful to think about, but we have tips on how to make the process easy

Holiday magic or holiday madness: the upcoming season is a combination of both. Employees are looking forward to spending time with loved ones, and also sharing gifts and good cheer. Business owners are hoping to send the message to their staff that they’re appreciated during the holiday season and throughout the year. However, planning a holiday party can add a level of stress that requires more than eggnog to relieve.

Many owners wonder if holiday parties are even worthwhile. What’s the value of the hectic prep, the expense, and the inevitable party faux pas? When you look around the workplace, you may wonder if these folks really want to spend more time together.

Holiday parties aren’t enforced joviality; they can be a time to:

  • Show appreciation
  • Build relationships and camaraderie
  • Remind staff of the important role they serve in the company

Why are holiday parties important?

You could ask yourself why holidays are important, Mr. Scrooge. Holiday celebrations are a time to pause: to realize life is not all about the daily grind. We stop to revel in the season, express our spirituality, or remember the accomplishments or sacrifices of others.

Company holiday parties mirror those sentiments to the team. The people we spend our work week alongside are important parts of our lives. Why wouldn’t we take time to celebrate each other?

Holiday parties are symbolic: they send a message to employees that the company is successful because employees are successful. They celebrate the collaboration that brings us to a place where we can afford, and look forward to, patting ourselves on the back and saying “well done.”

An organization that doesn’t plan for holiday festivities risks undermining employee morale and confidence in corporate health.

Holiday party benefits

Extends culture

Holiday parties should extend culture beyond metrics and performance. Celebrating the workers, and not just the work, is important. For employees, it’s a chance to let their hair down. For businesses, it’s a chance to show staff their value to the organization.

Build relationships

If you worry those employees from accounting rarely get to rub elbows with staff from R&D, the holiday party is the perfect solution. Employees who never get to interact on a daily basis can meet, greet, and find common ground.

Dressing down at the celebration can make it easier to mingle merrily. Warehousing staff might not approach the three-piece suit crowd, but you can encourage wearing casual attire like polos (or an ugly holiday sweater) to make it easier to mix. The net result for business is often a more cohesive team.

Boost engagement 

Happy people just work harder. Show employees how much they’re valued, with the smallest tokens of appreciation to parties that have no other purpose than to say “cheers.” When staffers know their value to an organization, engagement, and ownership in their work naturally follow.

Still don’t believe in holiday (party) magic? One survey found 90% of employees would be disappointed if their holiday festivities were canceled. Another 70% said holiday parties were important for office morale.

You may be more Festivus than festive, but the numbers don’t lie. Many employees look forward to holiday parties  — and many are let down if their company doesn’t offer them.

Taking the madness out of holiday magic

Whether the holidays are the busiest time of year for your business or the slowest, holiday party planning can be stressful. With a bit of planning, there are ways to make them less maddening and more merry.

Don’t wait until the last minute

Start planning your event well in advance. Book venues or caterers before the only options left leave you tailgating at a fast-food venue.

Make it a potluck

Asking employees to bring in an appetizer, snack, or dessert can take the pressure down a notch or two if you party in-house. You can provide the main course while they volunteer to bring in the sides. Not only does this give staffers a chance to show off their holiday food faves, it can bring staff closer together.

Holiday cooking and baking is deeply ingrained in culture. Sharing the foods we love and were raised on with others who may not have been exposed to them builds bridges.

Ask for help

There are people on your staff who are closet event planners (you know who they are) anxiously waiting for the call of duty. Volunteers can turn an otherwise overwhelming task into small portions easily managed. Ask for a team of party planners to get a variety of input, and remind them to make sure the holiday party is inclusive and welcoming to all cultures and religions.

There’s an app for that

While it might not be as easy as ordering up a ride, there are event planners all over the country to outsource your holiday party planning needs. These professionals can do all the work for you, such as:

  • Find venues or caterers
  • Setup
  • Find servers and bartenders
  • Do decor
  • Cleanup

If you have the budget (or the lack of patience), simply tell them what you want and your price points and let them take the helm. You sit back and enjoy the party (and the accolades) while they take care of the work for you.

It’s OK to delay (but not too long)

If the only time you could reasonably throw a holiday party during the hectic season is the lull between midnight and 4am, postpone the festivities to a date when people can really enjoy them. But don’t leave it open-ended. Send out a “Save the Date” to staffers with a specific time when you’ll be whooping it up.

Company holiday celebrations are more than an excuse to party: they send a message about the importance and worth we place on our staff as individuals. Taking the time (and the expense) to expand workplace culture beyond the 9 to 5 shows commitment to the core values every company hopes to represent.

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