The first "ber" month of 2015 has arrived. If you are in charge of this year's office Christmas Party, then you will do well to read this series of articles, which comes in five parts. But first, we need to know if you and us are on the same page: our definition of the Best Office Christmas Party Ever is one where almost everyone has a great time. This may seem obvious, but some office Christmas parties are organized in a way that seems to make the organizer look good rather than for the staff to have a good time. It is easy to spot this type of office Christmas Party : attendance is compulsory and the party has a lot of performances, and speeches.



Part 1 is about the big picture. The way to think about office Christmas Party, and the big DON'Ts. Part 2 is about the details in planning.

Rule #1 - Make them want to go, not have to go

How can a party be great if participants do not enjoy it?

Give people good reasons to want to go, like good food, nice place, and some prizes. Holding it during office hours would definitely be preferred over a party being held outside office hours. Should attendance be obligatory? After all, if it to be held within office hours, they should either be at the party or working, right? That's certainly within the right of the employer. On the other hand, you can choose to see the party time as time invested in boosting staff morale. If you succeed in giving your staff a good time, then the return on investment will be felt for a long time.

Rule #2 - Recruit planners that enjoy the extra work

Unless you have staff whose job is to boost staff morale, any body recruited to help you with planning will have his/her own regular duties to perform. It would be wise, therefore, to find someone who likes organizing parties and be given time to do that within his/her working hours. If the office cannot afford to allocate any staff to Christmas Party planning, then a simple party can still be enjoyable.

Getting the right venue requires early action.

Rule #3 - Choose venue that allows participants to leave early

This means, for example, not to hold the party on a boat, unless there are scheduled drop-off times. Although as event planner, you would like everyone to stay as long as possible so that they get to experience everything you have planned for them, ultimately you have to accept that there could be emergency situations where some participants have to leave early.

Rule #4 - Explain the rules if there are any

For example, if there are repercussions for not showing up, dress code or rules of behavior, explain beforehand. This will avoid embarrassing moments such as guests finding that they wore the wrong outfit to the event, or acting in a way that is considered inappropriate. If you have planned something that targets participants are likely to regret if they missed it, then you should at least give a hint in the invitation, e.g. announcements of some awards, or raffles with big prizes.

Rule # 5 - Find out what the budget is and stick with it

If you really think that the budget is too tight for achieving what the company wants to accomplish through the party, then talk to the financier first before busting the budget: else you may end up paying for it!

What does your company want to achieve? It could be having a decent party that the employees will not be embarrassed to tell their friends about, which means a passable party, and a venue in a hotel or fancy restaurant (because the first thing that friends want to know about your office party is "where was it held"), or a party that shows employees how important that the company thinks of them, which could mean holding it in a classy venue with meaningful gifts, or a party that is mainly about fun, which could mean the quality of food and activities are more important than the name recognition of the venue. Based on that information, you can draw up a tentative program and work out the budget, and see if it is within the company's budget for this event. If it is not, either you try to convince the company to revise the budget limit, or, if that is unsuccessful, revise the program.

Rule # 6 - Do not overdo ceremonial stuff

The sponsors of the party, i.e. those who pay for it, should be given some acknowledgement at the event. The staff may want to hear some words of encouragement from top management. But on the whole, most people cannot relax when they are not allowed to move or talk for more than 15 minutes.

Rule # 7 - Do not have surprise guests that your staff do not know

People will act differently in front of strangers. It is harder for people to relax when they are worried about the consequences of not acting "professionally" in a party. Who knows? the stranger could be CEO of a big company, or a new director of the company.

Rule # 8 - Do not let it get out of hand

It is an office event, after all, and the name of the company is associated with it. If photos of the event end up in the pages of the local newspaper for the wrong reason, the repercussion could be severe. Therefore, be mindful of the usual culprit - too much liquor. Banning liquor completely would be a bad idea for a party, but limiting the free supply of it should be acceptable to all concerned.

Rule # 9 - Do not have reasons not to show up

It is true that employees are usually more relaxed when the supervisors are not in the room, but the absence of management staff in a Christmas party may be construed as a slight. And what if there are situations that require intervention by the principal event planner?

Rule # 10 - Be culturally sensitive

Many companies in The Fort are international companies. Some employees and management staff may be recruited from overseas. There may be dietary restrictions for health or religious reasons. It would be wise to pay attention to this, and at the minimum, include a few vegetarian dishes in the menu.

Lastly, do not plan too late. The later you plan, the fewer options you have. Venues for large groups (over 100 people) are especially limited in supply. In our next articles, we will list the critical steps in planning the best Christmas Party in The Fort ever, as well as suggested venues.

Eat healthy even in festive seasons, although you can afford to relax a little of you have been good to your health in the run-up to the parties. Please remember to visit our Healthy Yummy Campaign event at Serendra Piazza on October 15 to 18, in which you will find tons of information on healthy eating. See you there!

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