The Annual Office Holiday Party: Is It Really Worth Having One?

Article main image
Dec 11, 2014

Ahhhh … it’s that time of year again when companies may feel inclined to celebrate the holidays with an office party.

Do you work for one of those companies?

I know that after 2008, many companies opted out of the annual celebration for economic reasons, but there are still those who are offering this type of annual group merriment.

But, I wonder — is it worth it?

For some, office holiday parties aren’t much fun

If the intent is to offer employees an event to relax and enjoy time with work colleagues in a party-like atmosphere, are you sure that doing so is something the employees find fun and motivating? For some, they spend plenty of time on the job, so forced social time with work colleagues may not feel so festive.

Hey, don’t get me wrong; I’m all for fun times with people I enjoy, and the holidays are a good reason to throw a party.

However, not all employees see this as something fun, and some may view it more of a painful obligation they must show up at so they don’t get put on leadership’s “naughty list.”

I question if a holiday party is the BEST way to spend money in an effort to motivate and engage employees.

Yes,  it’s great to have the team get together for a lunch out, or to do a pot-luck type of gathering, but if a company is spending many thousands on a big party, maybe it’s worth evaluating the real value gained. Is there is a better way to use those funds?

Instead of spending that lump sum on a year-end party, how about dividing that same amount by leader/manager and give them the budget to do something that may be more meaningful for their people?

Other options besides a party

Here are some other options to consider:

  • Give team members a bonus and a half-day off to go shopping … or maybe just give them time off!
  • Buy gift cards that can be used in a way that is relevant for that employee, (i.e. movie passes, restaurant cards, retailers, etc.).
  • Send food (e.g., ham, turkey, fruit, sweets) to each employees’ home so the entire family can enjoy it.

Making the most out of the festivities

But, if there is a company party and you feel inclined to attend, here are a few guidelines about how to make the most of the experience:

  • Mix and mingle – Don’t just stick around the people you see every day. Try to meet at least two new people. You can even ask those you know to introduce you to someone you don’t know. You want to demonstrate your polished social skills so strike up a conversation by showing interest in others, and NOT droning on about what you do.
  • Have a good time, but please, DON’T HAVE THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE! We’ve all heard of (or observed) those folks that drink too much, get sloppy, and end up saying or doing something they later regret. Don’t be that guy/gal! Stick with the 1-2 drink rule and remember — you’re at a business event.
  • Be gracious and thank those that organized and hosted the event — This is most likely senior leadership. It’s a perfect excuse to introduce yourself and offer thanks and appreciation. That small interaction can go a long way in how they remember you.

Take some time to relax

It’s important to take time to relax and celebrate over the holidays, but remember that people have different preferences in how they celebrate. What can be most meaningful is a genuine connection and sincere well-wishes.

So, make time to connect with each person and let them know how they contribute and add value all year long. That won’t cost a dime!