You’ve been tasked with planning a company party. Whether it’s the annual holiday get-together, a corporate anniversary, a retirement party, or a celebration of another kind, you don’t want it to be the kind of event people attend just because they have to. You don’t want it to feel corporate. You want it to be fun this time!
The type of event you plan will depend on your corporate culture, the size of your company, and your budget, but these principles will apply in almost every case. Like any other party, when it comes to having a good company party it’s important to have good food, create a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere, and most of all to have fun!
Pick the Date
Unless there’s a significant reason to do otherwise, have the party on a Thursday or Friday night, but not one leading into a holiday weekend when people may want to travel. Unless you traditionally have a Sunday afternoon picnic, steer clear of Saturdays and Sundays. People have so many other pulls on their free time that unless you are hosting an extraordinary event, not everyone will want to or be able to attend.
Pick the Location
Don’t have the party at the office. Unless you’re gathering to celebrate the opening of your new building, give folks a break from the routine. Partying in close proximity to where they work every day isn’t conducive to rest and relaxation.
There are boundless other options including restaurants, banquet hall in Glendale CA, and event spaces at museums, botanical gardens, and even our local movie studios. Or you could host a party at the Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Airport or Glendale’s Alex Theatre. If the company owner has an accommodating home or lawn, it would be particularly gracious to have a catering service in Glendale CA cater your next party.
Create an Atmosphere
Give everyone a chance to unwind and see each other as people rather than just co-workers. Create an atmosphere that’s welcoming by having the head of the company greet everyone as they come in, or at least make sure it’s easy for him or her to engage with each employee personally during the party.
Unless you’ve got a very small group and everyone is familiar with each other, it’s a big deal for employees who don’t have regular face time with the company leader to have the chance for a one-on-one with the person who signs their paychecks. It’s good for the boss, too.
Leave Work at Work
If it’s a party, make it a party. Don’t overload it with presentations and speeches that make it feel like another day at the office. Good luck trying to ban shop talk altogether, because that’s what most of your guests have in common, but give people something else to talk about with entertainment and activities that have nothing to do with work.
Not only will that enliven the evening for your employees, but it will give their spouses and plus-ones something they can enjoy, too. It’s awful being someone’s spouse and feeling like a potted plant all night while business conversations go on around and without you.
Plan the event so that people don’t just come in, sit down at a table, and eat. You want them to mingle and to participate. Maybe your staff would get a kick out of a line dancing or tango lesson, a group sing-along, or even a staged performance by employees with the knack for it.
Don’t confuse a party with one of those structured team-building activities where everyone wears company T-shirts and plays tug-of-war in the mud and then discusses how they felt about it. Those events can be useful and even fun, but they have a different purpose and everyone knows it.
Make Sure Everyone Is Comfortable
Unless all the employees are in the same general age group (tech companies, you know who you are), make sure the party is comfortable for everyone. Don’t plan a location or activities that will be physically difficult for less able employees, or play music that appeals to just one segment of the crowd. The idea is to bring everyone together, not unwittingly set it up so that one group is sitting like outsiders watching another group have fun.
Limit the Alcohol
Don’t make it all about the bar. Serve whatever you’d like, but don’t make it the focus of the party. While most people equate moderate alcohol consumption with loosening up to have a good time, there are occasionally a few who take it to the outer limit and get a little too loose. Save everyone the grief and don’t let it happen.
Instruct the person who’s minding the bar to be aware of anyone who is in danger of crossing the line, and devise a non-confrontational policy to deal with it. And of course never let anyone drive home if he’s intoxicated.
Consider Giving Appreciation Gifts
If you’re giving favors, make them gifts and not advertising gimmicks. Sure, everyone could use a new baseball cap and ecologically correct grocery tote bag with the company logos on them, but those are the kind of things to give out to employees during the year.
A real gift is something as simple as a box of chocolate truffles or a gift card from Amazon or for a night at the movies. If you can think of something that fits with your company mission, that’s great, but this is a time to recognize that your employees have lives outside of work and that you want them to enjoy them.
Support the Community
Include a community component. If you’re having a party to celebrate a company accomplishment the employees achieved, share the wealth. Use it as an occasion to announce a company-funded scholarship or a donation of cash, products or services to a local nonprofit. People like to feel good about the places they work and appreciate being part of the company’s support of the community they live in.