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10 Important Office Christmas Party Rules

written by: •edited by: Linda Richter•updated: 11/29/2014

It’s that time of year again—time for the office Christmas party! Sometimes, these events can get out of hand or even be so boring that not many employees attend or stick around. Follow these 10 tips to make sure everyone has a good time.

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    Festive Fun

    Yes, it’s time to pick someone to wear the Santa suit and perhaps have a few elves or two dancing around—the annual office Christmas party! For some employers it’s a great time for food, fun, and a chance to get together with employees and their families. For others, it’s a dreaded time because the thought of last year’s party still sticks with them—and it was a disaster!

    Before you decide to skip the festive fun this year and hand out lottery tickets to your employees instead, consider trying again keeping some commonsense tips in mind.

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    1. Have a Party

    Don't Be a Grinch This may sound like a stupid rule for the holiday season, but many employers skip the traditional celebration with their employees--and that only lowers employee morale. Employees expect some sort of celebration or appreciation for the year’s efforts, so don’t be a Grinch; have a party.

    You can even set up a holiday party committee to help you so you don't feel overwhelmed planning the event.

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    2. The “Spirit" of Alcohol

    As an employer myself, I know whether you hold an in-house Christmas party or go to a venue, employees want alcohol. There are ways to do this the right way to avoid drunk drivers and shuttling people home.

    If you’re holding an in-house office Christmas party, the rules for alcohol are simple. Only buy enough alcohol for each person to have one or two drinks depending upon the strength of the spirit you choose. If you’re at a venue, pass out two drink tickets and buy each employee two drinks—after that, it should be up to the venue’s bartender to stop serving. Bartenders in most states or the owners of venues that serve alcohol are usually responsible (not you) if employees drink too much and attempt to drive. They should know when to shut people off.

    Don’t forget no matter where you hold the party, not everyone drinks, so have other options available. This is also a good idea so employees can turn to something non-alcoholic after they finish their two drinks.

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    3. Thai Food Again?

    Food is an important part of your office holiday party, and if you only serve one kind of food, you’ll have some disgruntled attendees. Choose a variety of party trays or dishes that includes something for everyone. Your holiday committee can help pick a variety of foods everyone will love.

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    4. We Have to Make the Food?

    This office Christmas party rule is a never do! Never ask employees to make the food for the party. Who wants to go home after work and make a dish the night before the party? No one does. It’s a celebration, so open the wallet and buy some food or have the party catered by someone other than your employees.

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    5. Games Are Fun!

    Sure, it’s fun to sit around and chat it up, but games are also fun for both you and your employees. You can hold a trivia game, guess-the-movie game, and even bingo. For the winners, make sure you buy prizes that are desirable prizes—you can find some great employee holiday gifts if you take the time to look for them.

    Another favorite is to buy many prizes (enough for all) and then have each employee, in turn, choose one gift and the next person in line can decide to steal a gift or keep the one he has. This great game ends with everyone taking some sort of gift home and is always a crowd pleaser. Even a Casino Night is a great idea, fun filled and sure to please.

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    6. Is the Boss Here?

    Beyond being an employer, I have also been an employee in my career. Nothing is worse than when the boss is a no-show. Your employees wait all year to talk to you, sometimes one on one, and they want you to meet their families. Show up, have fun, join in the conversation, and don’t leave early.

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    7. My Bonus Is Bigger Than Your Bonus

    This should be a no-brainer, but a bad office Christmas party rule is to pass out bonuses the day of the party or during the party. Do this on another day, like Christmas Eve. If you pass out bonuses on the day of or at the party, believe me, employees will compare bonus amounts, and you never want that.

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    8. Be a Role Model

    You want your employees to have a good time right? It may be tempting for you to over-indulge and go beyond the two-drink limit, and this is just a bad idea all around. Everyone will remember how drunk you got and you might not remember what was said, or promised, in an intoxicated state.

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    9. Consider a Joint Party

    If your company interacts with another company closely in the business arena, you can save on some of the costs by combining company parties. This gives employees of both companies a time to have fun instead of just working together on projects. If you decide this is a plan for you, make sure you and the other business owner are fair about costs and prizes.

    If you hold a joint party, and have a holiday party planning committee, make sure you have representatives from both companies. This will ensure all interests and ideas are covered.

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    10. Keep an Open Eye

    Almost every workplace environment has one or two troublemakers. Since you know who they are, keep an eye on them and don’t allow them to intimidate or bully anyone attending the party. If they do, intervene in a calm and quiet manner.

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    All of these office Christmas party rules are important to keep in mind this year when it’s time to hold the festive event. Make sure your holiday party is one that employees want to attend; keep it lively and fun!

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