Ladyguide: How to Throw an Office Party

So, it’s your job to throw the office holiday party, is it? My condolences and best wishes. Still, here are a few tips that might be helpful.

A couple of things are important to consider when you’re responsible for planning a holiday get-together for the people with whom you work.

First: budget. How much do you have to spend? If it’s a lot, I say shop this stuff out to party planners, caterers, even the types of event spaces that come with packaged deals. Find a great DJ or a live band and you’re set. Seriously. Money buys you not-having-to-worry-about-it satisfaction in this case, so farm as many details out as possible.

If your budget is more moderate, however, consider this second important factor: group size. This will determine a lot of what you can do. For a larger group with a small budget, consider doing a potluck in your office space, and use the money to splurge on booze and tacky decorations. For a smaller group with a small budget, can you all go out for cocktails? What about a generically fun event, like bowling or ice skating or even swing dancing?

Time of day of course is another factor to consider: is this meant to take place during the workday, or are workers expected to show up after hours for the shindig? If it’s after hours, can they bring family? Just significant others, or kids too? Will there be childcare? Will there be drinking? How much?

And then there are the miscellaneous participation details: Will there be a gift exchange of any kind? (If so, set a very modest price ceiling.) How easy or difficult will the location you choose be to access for employees who don’t have personal vehicles? Are you choosing an activity (if there is an activity, instead of just food and drinks) that will be easy to do for a variety of people of different ages, abilities, and interests? By which I mean, not everyone enjoys semi-strenuous physical activities or even passive competition in their relaxing hours, so, chill on the adrenaline and hyperactive pressure situations.

If I’ve learned anything about throwing office parties though, I can boil it down into the following three maxims.

1. Have a cleanup plan for whatever you choose to do.

2. The more inclusive and relaxed, generally, the more fun people have. Fancy is tempting but ugly sweater parties get everyone laughing.

3. Everyone will drink more than you think they’ll drink; plan accordingly.

In the end, though, plan something you know will be fun, take the pressure off yourself as well as everyone else, and try to be flexible. Not everyone’s going to want to wear the totally adorable festive nametags you found, nor will everyone just adore hummus. That doesn’t have to ruin the party, for them or for you.

By Meghan Young Krogh

Meghan had a number of quality writing mentors over the course of her education, which just goes to show that you can't blame the teacher for the way the student turns out. Team Oxford Comma represent.

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