This year you're probably focused on recreating team cohesion. Contributing to that will be the office Christmas party you've got planned. You also want to celebrate! After all, we can actually gather together again this Christmas.
But it's not an ordinary year, so what should you look out for? Obviously you want your team to love the festivities, but you also need to look out for safety. Let's get that out of the way first and then get on to the fun stuff!
We'd love for things to go back to how they were pre-pandemic. But unfortunately, COVID-19 looks like it's here to stay. That means there are still risks in getting together in big groups. And some of your team could be suffering from remote-working isolation anxieties. Check out our blog How to avoid cringe-worthy mistakes at the Office Christmas party for some insight on this, and share with any team members that may need help.
This year, you'll need to look out for everyone's safety if you're bringing together a big group. And that's especially true if you are heading to a public venue rather than bringing catering on-site.
Unless your team is small, everyone is vaccinated, and you've been working closely for a while, we do recommend asking every employee who plans on attending to take a rapid flow test before the event. This is especially the case if you have remote employees you expect to attend who haven't been vaccinated. Or, if you have team members with chronic health issues.
Knowing this safety measure is being implemented will help the more vulnerable of your employees feel safe about attending. As we now know, even those who have been double-jabbed can still catch the virus, even though their symptoms will most likely be much milder.
If you want your employees to love your party, you'll want them to have some say on where it's held. Everyone has different food and drink preferences. And, getting everyone's vote may alert you to a team member's specialist food requirements. Plan on pulling together multiple location options with different types of cuisine that include vegan and vegetarian choices, and a mix of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
The geographic location is also important. If your team is scattered, suggest several central locations that can be voted on. Above all, don't skimp on the food and drinks. They should be a feature of a Christmas party your team will love.
This year your team may not have been together for most of their work days. If this is the case, entertainment that includes some team building elements may be a great way to bring back some of that cohesion. And if you've hired on new employees remotely, this will be particularly valuable. Something themed towards your business might be especially fun. Maybe a quiz or scavenger hunt with a prize for the winning participant or team.
If your group is small enough, it's a good idea to acknowledge each employee and their contributions over the year with a small trophy or prize. Additional fun party elements could include a photo booth with festive props or a party souvenir. If appropriate to the venue, be sure to include some music for those whose favourite party moments take place on the dance floor.
Don't forget the Secret Santa! A little gift-giving is always a festive addition to a party. And there's no need for you to do the assigning - we use Draw Names. It's simple to set up and easy to use. If you think your team is up for it, you might instead consider a White Elephant gift exchange - but make sure everyone knows the rules ahead of time.
Do include your temps in your plans. Inviting them to your group Christmas party will boost their morale and help them foster strong connections. Not only is this good for your team, but studies show it's also good for your business.
If for some reason, your party this year will need to be remote, you can still have an entertaining virtual get together. No, it won't be the same, but it can still be fun and enjoyable. Last year we pulled together some tips on 6 ways to bring festive cheer to your remote team. Tips included sending a goodie bag before the party, organising a socially-distanced Secret Santa, and singing with speed karaoke as an activity.
We all know there's a potential for things to go off the rails at an office Christmas party. In fact, it's almost a tradition in some companies. But it's something we'd all probably rather avoid. And if you're aiming for your employees to have enjoyable memories of the event, it shouldn't be marred by problem behaviour from others.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to mitigate any potential problems before your party even gets started. Check out our blog: The secrets to a Christmas party with no HR hangover for our suggestions.
Lastly, we'd like to wish a very Merry Christmas to you and your team and a brilliant and successful New Year!
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