Top Ten Checklist for a Successful Company Party

Top Ten Checklist for a Successful Company Party 

  1. Pick the right venue. Parties should be hosted at appropriate venues, such as restaurants or a family-friendly type of place - like a theme park or sporting complex, as opposed to a bar or even a private home.

  2. Determine whether alcohol will be served. If so:

    • Consider serving only wine and beer vs. a full bar.

    • Set a maximum drink limit, with coupons or end bar service at a specific time, before the party ends. Depending on the length of the event, best practice is generally 2 to 3 drinks per person.

    • Have a variety of non-alcoholic beverages readily available.

    • Don't skimp on the food. Make sure guests have ample opportunity to eat throughout the event.

    • Offer to pay for rides to and from the event in a taxi, Lyft or Uber, or provide alternative transportation for employees.

    • Coach your managers on how to identify people who may be intoxicated, unable to drive or who become disruptive.

  3. Prepare your leadership team:

    • Remind managers and supervisors that they are expected to lead by example at all times, especially at a company social event.

    • Ensure your leadership team understands that the event is an opportunity to recognize and thank employees. Leaders should socialize with employees as much as possible.

    • Remind leaders that although they are attending a social event, it is a business function and all workplace rules apply, especially those regarding non-harassment/non-retaliation and drug-free policies.

  4. Communicate who is invited to the party (e.g., significant others, family members and children, or employees-only).This sets the initial tone of the event, and avoids uncertainty among employees about who is welcome.

  5. Do not retaliate against employees who choose not to attend the party. Employees should not feel pressured to attend or assume they won't be considered a "team player" if they have to miss the event.

  6. Unless your organization is a religious entity,  avoid religious holiday themes since doing so, or omitting some religions from your theme, may offend employees or appear to favor one religious group over another.This also provides for a more inclusive environment for your team.

  7. Be smart about the cost of the holiday party. If the company had a great year, don't plan a low-budget event. This sends the message that employees are not that important or appreciated. Conversely, if you had to lay off staff during the year, throwing an extravagant year-end bash, or hosting a small but expensive, or executives-only event, also sends the wrong message.

  8. Minimize Wage & Hour claims from non-exempt employees by following these best practices:

    • Again, make sure employees know that attendance is strictly voluntary

    • Do not engage in business during the party.

    • Hold the party outside regular business hours.

    • Avoid the appearance that the company requests non-exempt employees to work “off the clock” during the party.

  9. Consider the risks of workers’ compensation liability and follow the steps in #8 above as well as any other safety-related issues.

  10. Prevent sexual harassment claims

    • Ensure your anti-harassment policy is current by re-evaluating the policy lanaguage at least once a year and make sure it is clear to all team members.

    • Ensure that employees understand that your workplace policies regarding sexual harassment and retaliation are in full force and in effect during any office party/event.

    • Consider including spouses or plus-ones at events since employees may be more reserved and refrain from inappropriate behavior if his/her significant other attends as well.

    • Ensure no uncomfortable or inappropriate games are played at the event. 

    • Make sure leaders are aware how to spot and handle incidents of inappropriate behavior or complaints if they arise.