How to Throw a Fun-Filled Office Party

    September 3, 2019

    All work and no play make for a very dull life. That's why many employers are letting their workers blow off a little steam by scheduling some fun for after business is done. But an office party is no ordinary shindig. When co-workers, alcohol, and higher-ups are involved, things can get complicated — and even messy. Luckily, we're breaking down a few helpful reminders that'll aid you in throwing a fun-filled office party that ends on a high note.


    Don’t Make it Mandatory


    While we would like it if every person attended, having it be a forced activity takes away a bit of the magic. Instead of making employees come to the party, focus on keeping it optional, but emphasize that there will be perks for showing up. Whether you give out prizes, create a special memento, or bring in exclusive entertainment, make it clear that no one has to come, but that they will be missing out if they decide against it. You really only want those who are eager to be part of the fun. 


    Avoid Religious or Cultural Exclusion


    Christmas office parties used to be more common, but now, these celebrations may keep some guests from feeling part of the group. Since it’s impossible to know the personal views of every person in your office, don’t try to figure it out. Look for celebration themes that are accepted by everyone, such as a toast to a new season or a decades party that embraces the nostalgia of your youth. Better yet, don’t tie your party to any particular event on the calendar. A “job well done” bash can happen at the end of quarterly reports, or anytime that makes sense for your team. 


    Reconsider Booze


    Who says you have to serve alcohol at your party? If liability is a concern, or you have workers who will struggle with a boozy environment, use the celebration time to drink something else. You can get creative with custom non-alcoholic cocktails, or hire a barista for caffeinated drinks everyone will remember. You can choose a smoothie or juice bar for a healthy alternative. 


    If you do decide to imbibe, hire a professional bartender. This will help limit drinks and makes it less awkward when it comes to “cutting off” heavy drinkers. It’s never OK to put an employee in the position of having to serve and judge the sobriety of their co-workers. 


    Make it a Family Affair


    One other way to limit obnoxious or drunken behavior is to invite families. People tend to act their best when their kids and spouses are around. It can also make for a fun time for loved ones to see where the employee works and who they spend all their workweek around. Just be sure to set up places for younger kids to play, and consider hiring a daycare provider to watch the littlest ones. If spouses are invited, give them lots of room to mingle and chat about things other than work. 


    Focus on Food


    While it might cost a bit more to have a full-service meal, it's well worth the investment to keep your guests happy. (And it will prevent people from trying to fill up with drinks.) Food helps make the event warm, friendly, and something they are more likely to attend. Everyone loves a free meal, so do your best to pick a selection of eats for all dietary needs, and communicate early that there will be lots to go around. 


    Pick and Inviting and Safe Venue


    Where you hold your party is just as important as who you invite. While you want a location that's easy for all of your employees to get to, if you also want it to be open, free of hazards, and near public transportation for safe rides home. For the most hassle-free party, the right venue will be on one level, near major streets, and have catering and bartending services included. This way, you can ensure everyone fills up on tasty eats, drinks less from trained professional bartenders, and have access to amenities like Wi-Fi and accessible restrooms.


    One other perk of having a party offsite is that it doesn’t remind everyone of work. A work party is a time to get away, after all. You also limit damage to office equipment or accidental breaches to confidential areas or off-limits rooms. Parties and professional workspaces don’t mix! 


    Lay Down the Law


    Not to be a party pooper, but it's important that people know the rules about parties – even when hosted by the office. While it's not necessary to make everyone go through sexual harassment training or even call out the proper behavior on the day of the event, it's smart to include how people are expected to act somewhere in the employee handbook and onboarding materials for new employees. Let everyone who starts with the company know that there are standards for work-related events and that they still represent the business at the party. By addressing it upfront well before the event, you've let them know what is expected without putting an awkward cast over the party.


    Check your Coverage


    Does your business insurance policy cover offsite events? If you're not sure, now's the time to ask. While you're at it, check with your venue to see what's covered. Will you have to sign a waiver? Are accidents or damaged covered? What will happen to your deposit if something does occur? Think through the possibilities and make sure you’re covered for the “what ifs” that can come with an office event. If you aren’t prepared to seek protections or pay for possible liabilities, you might want to tone down your plans. 


    If you’re running a successful business, you already have something to celebrate. Wanting to bring your employees in on the excitement only makes sense, but with it, there’s going to be some risk. Fortunately, careful planning and the selection of the right venue and services can make it easier, while providing for more professional results. Who knows? You might find your next office party to be the celebration of the year!