How to Keep Your Business’s Holiday Party from Going Off the Rails

As we emerge from the global pandemic, with the world gradually returning to a new kind of normal, businesses everywhere are contemplating how best to celebrate the year’s end and boost team morale. Among the many considerations is how to keep your company holiday party under control, ensuring it’s not only festive but also safe and inclusive for everyone.

The Changing Dynamics of Holiday Parties

In the past, some businesses hesitated to host holiday parties due to various concerns, one of which was highlighted by the #MeToo movement.

Furthermore, with the rise of remote work, many companies found it challenging to coordinate gatherings that included both in-office and virtual employees. This shift in workplace dynamics and the logistics of organizing such events have added layers of complexity to the tradition.

The Value of In-Person Holiday Parties

Yet, with this excitement also comes the challenge of adapting to these new dynamics. There’s a renewed sense of anticipation for these gatherings, as for many, it marks a return to camaraderie and direct social interaction after long periods of virtual meetings and isolation.

Embracing Tradition with a Modern Approach

Despite these challenges, not celebrating at all feels like a missed opportunity. After all, a vast majority of employees have traditionally looked forward to these annual gatherings.

These events serve as a chance to bond, appreciate each other’s efforts, and bid farewell to the year in a spirit of unity and joy.

It’s clear that the company holiday party, though steeped in tradition, needs a fresh approach to make it resonate with today’s workforce, keeping it enjoyable while addressing modern concerns.

Ways to Keep Your Company Holiday Party Under Control

If you don’t want to be Scrooge this year, how can you hold a company holiday party that’s fun, festive and appropriate? Follow these tips.

Focus on what employees care about. Socializing with coworkers and eating good food are the top things employees look forward to at the holiday party, Evite found. Create an environment where there’s plenty of time to talk and interact, and provide plenty of food (which also helps keep employees who imbibe from getting drunk).
Clarify expectations. If you haven’t already discussed sexual and other forms of harassment with your staff, do so before the party. (Some 37% of employees in the Evite survey have witnessed co-workers kissing or otherwise getting romantic at their holiday party.) It’s also a good idea to send an email before the party reminding everyone of the standards you expect.
Control alcohol intake. According to Evite, 57% of company parties involve at least one employee drinking too much and/or getting sick from alcohol. There’s a growing trend toward moderation or not drinking at all, Drinks Business reports — so you may not even need to serve liquor. If you do decide to provide alcohol, find out what your liability issues are beforehand, and limit overindulgence by issuing drink tickets, serving alcohol only for a short time, and hiring professional bartenders who can tell when someone is at risk of being overserved. You can also cover Uber or cab fares for employees.
Make it a family affair. Inviting spouses and children to the holiday party is a great way to reduce inappropriate behavior and excessive drinking. Consider treating the party more like a company picnic, with a daytime venue, a more casual atmosphere, and family-friendly activities like face painting, storytelling or making holiday crafts to keep the kids entertained. (If you’re hiring entertainment, such as a comedian, clown, band or DJ, check beforehand to make sure their set is family-friendly, with no suggestive music or potentially offensive jokes.)
Focus on fun experiences. Traditional holiday office parties can get kind of boring — and employees are less likely to get into trouble when there are planned activities to participate in. Hold silly games and contests, like an Ugly Christmas/Hanukkah Sweater competition, and offer prizes.
Involve remote employees. If your remote employees aren’t close enough to come to the party, there are still ways to make them feel part of the celebration. Use video conferencing to share speeches and toasts at the party. Create some contests they can participate in from a distance; for example, they can post photos of their ugly Christmas sweaters. Share photos of the party online so remote employees can see the fun. Finally, since you aren’t spending money on remote employees’ food and drink at the event, it’s thoughtful to send them a “care package” full of goodies or a gift card they can use to have some holiday fun on their own.

Company Holiday Party Checklist

As businesses gear up for the festive season, planning a successful company holiday party involves a mix of traditional elements and new considerations. Here’s a checklist to ensure that your holiday party remains memorable, enjoyable, and incident-free.


Employee InterestsEnsure ample opportunities for socializing and provide a variety of foods.

Setting ExpectationsCommunicate standards of behavior, especially regarding harassment.

Alcohol ManagementConsider moderation, provide drink tickets, hire professional bartenders.

TransportationCover transportation costs like Uber or cab fares to ensure safety.

Family InclusionInvite family members to minimize inappropriate behavior and foster community.

EntertainmentPlan family-friendly activities; ensure entertainment is suitable for all ages.

Engage Remote EmployeesUse video conferencing, share photos, create remote-inclusive contests.

Gifts for Remote EmployeesSend care packages or gift cards since they won’t be partaking in the on-site feasting.

The company holiday party may have changed, but it’s still a tradition worth keeping. By following the steps above, you can ensure a party that’s fun for everyone.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “How to Keep Your Business’s Holiday Party from Going Off the Rails” was first published on Small Business Trends