Pick an appropriate theme

Not everyone has the same religious beliefs, and not everyone is celebrating the same holiday. There are a lot of neutral kinds of decorations you can put up that will keep everyone comfortable. A winter theme often works well for this. Snowmen, hot chocolate and cider: what more do you need?

Do not have it in the office

Nobody likes to go to a party if it’s at work. Heading back the office after a long week just to see everyone you saw all week is a big drag. Do your best to have your party at someone’s house, a restaurant, or other “off-campus” location like a banquet room at a hotel. Make sure the location is accessible for people and that they know how to get to it.

Have booze, but keep it under control

Ah, the infamous holiday office party moments of shame. Make sure you have booze at the party so people that want to partake can get their drink on, but make sure that you are keeping it under control. A seven-hour open bar is just asking for a coworker to make an offensive joke or for somebody to start dancing on tables.

Make sure the decorations and the booze level are appropriate
Make sure the decorations and the booze level are appropriate

Do not have one during layoffs

Many people are asking if they should have a holiday party this year because they are trying to cut costs. Here’s my advice: If you think the party is going to make it less likely for your company to stay alive, don’t have the party. Everyone will understand; a lot of people dread these parties anyway. And, it goes without saying that if your company has already been forced to lay people off because of the economy, throwing a holiday bash will probably be considered to be in bad taste. No one wants to see you spend money on a party when their friend just got sacked.

If you have the money though, a holiday party is great way to reward your employees for their hard work and to give them a break before the new year starts. You’ll need them fresh for when you start 2008 bookkeeping and tax returns.

UPDATE: It seems that holiday parties are a less talked-about topic this year. There have been much fewer blog entries about holiday parties this year.