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Checklist: throwing an end-of-year party

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

End-of-year office parties can be a wonderful way to thank employees for the past 12 months’ work. A few things to consider:

Do we want a traditional or alternative party? Given that end-of-year parties can lead to inappropriate behavior (e.g., overindulging in alcohol, drunken driving, sexual harassment), some companies turn to alternative formats. Ideas for an alternative party: Mini-golf tournament, bowling, brunches, mini-cruises, rock climbing, or family events with pony rides or other entertainment.

Other questions to consider for the party format:

• Do we want to hold the event during the day or in the evening?

• Do we want to be more formal or less formal?

• Do we want the celebration to be in-house or off-site?

• Are we inviting spouses, entire families or clients, or do we want only staff?

• If it will be a family event, how will we entertain children?

Will we need live entertainment? Ideas: a jazz trio or an a cappella group singing holiday music. Tip: Avoid arranging entertainment that is so loud or show-stopping that guests can’t mingle and talk.

Do we want to serve alcohol? Many companies opt to avoid it altogether, but even if you do serve alcohol, you can limit consumption. One idea: Greet guests as they enter with a glass of champagne or wine. Then close the bar. Tip: Ask bartenders to pour less alcohol than normal, and provide cabs for people who overindulge.

Will we need speakers or a master of ceremonies? Normally, a thank you from the CEO is sufficient. If you have multiple speakers, keep them to a few minutes each, or allow 20 minutes for a single speaker.

How will we focus on inclusion? One thing to keep in mind is the staff’s diversity. Not everyone celebrates the same holidays, so incorporate a variety of traditions into your event.

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