Planning Your Holiday Office Party? 5 Common Mistakes to Avoid

Written by Carla Rieger on . Posted in Employee Engagement & Team Building


It’s time to start planning that all important end-of-the year party for your workplace. This is a chance for people to feel appreciated for a job well done and to further enhance a sense of community in your workplace. Here are examples of 5 common mistakes that party planners make, followed by 5 ways to avoid them.

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5 Ways to Mess Up your Office Party

Mistake #1 – Throwing it together at the last minute

Too often, planning the Holiday party ends up in the InBox of the busiest person and it gets thrown together at the last minute. We heard one story in which staff received one day’s notice for the event. They arrived to find an exhausted support staffer racing to put out a Box of Yellow Tail Wine and a bucket of KFC.

Mistake #2 – Un-Inclusiveness

A woman who worked at an insurance company told us that they received a group email like this (no joke): “Christmas Party tomorrow at 3 p.m. All staff attending MUST wear the reindeer ears supplied at the door. For those people who don’t celebrate Christmas you will be required to cover for everyone else. Please don’t invite kids or significant others, as we won’t have enough food or refreshments.”

Mistake #3 – Seating for Silos

Every year a municipal government office has an end-of-the-year party in which food and drink is laid out at round tables of 6 people. The meeting planner complained to us that people just sit with their regular office buddies and make fun of people they don’t like in other departments.

Mistake #4 – Alcohol Free-for-All

One of the most common mistakes we hear about are organizations that have an open bar. People get drunk and then do and say things that end up on Facebook. We heard of one individual that arrived hung over the next morning at work and was entirely surprised to discover he no longer had a job.

Mistake #5 – No Community Building

Too often we hear people say they dread going to the Holiday Office party. It’s boring or uncomfortable and they are just there out of obligation.

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5 Ways to Amp Up your Office Party

In case you aren’t interested in the possible side effects of the above, here are some tried-and-true approaches to ensuring an enjoyable event.

  1. Creating a planning committee

Spread the organizing over several people who enjoy this kind of thing. Ensure there is enough planning time and a big enough budget. However, do survey what employees would most enjoy. In general, people enjoy events where they feel inspired, included and appreciated. Remember — substance is more important than flash. With some creativity you can do a lot on a little.

  1. Being inclusive

A Christmas party may alienate some of your staff. If people are from diverse backgrounds, have a more generic Holiday party. If you have an office party during the day, make sure everyone can attend. Do invite significant others and children for at least one office party a year.

  1. Helping them mix

Your company party may be the only time people get to meet the president, CEO or VPs in person, or people from other departments or locations. Make sure people don’t spend the entire event with their regular office buddies. Enhancing workplace relationships at all levels can create an invisible web of goodwill that can positively affect the bottom line, communication, enjoyment and overall morale.

  1. Eat, drink and be merry — in moderation

If you serve alcohol make sure you serve food at the same time. Include plenty of non-alcoholic drinks and healthy food options along with the usual treats. If people overdo it they may associate your party with negative feelings about what they did or said, or how they felt the next day. Provide other forms of “social lubricant” such as interactive mixers.

  1. Hiring a pro

To create the right atmosphere you might like to hire a professional speaker (like Carla J) who can ice break the group and get people laughing and learning some great ways to handle the stress of the holiday season. Just remember, that laughter is the shortest distance between two people.

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Carla Rieger offers a one hour program on Team Play that is perfect for a Holiday office event. She gets people interacting in a non-threatening, enjoyable ways while learning some important ways to stay centered during the Holiday Season. Call us 1-866-294-2988 or email: carla [at] artistryofchange [dot] com.


Carla Rieger

“Carla Rieger, motivational speaker, author and coach, activates team leaders and business owners to speak with power and passion. She helps you build a positive team culture and to create presentations that grow your income, build your credibility and change lives for the better.”

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