Ever go to a “wild” office holiday party? One where somehow everyone knows Monday morning that you had been wearing Christmas tree underwear to the party that night?
But while closing up shop at noon for a few hours of over-the-top eating, drinking and flirting may have been popular at one time, it’s unlikely that you’ll find many parties like that at today’s office.
Liability issues, costs – and let’s hope plain old better judgment – have tamed office parties. Instead, more offices are participating in their own distinctive celebrations.
Some are reporting pot-luck lunches, gift exchanges or a fancy dinner for staff, but as professionals around the Greater Lehigh Valley ring out 2016, there are no hard rules as to what makes for the ideal office holiday party.
I asked some folks what their workplaces were doing to celebrate the season and got almost as many different ideas as answers.
Let’s start with good old Lehigh Valley Business.
We love our annual pot luck lunch. I’m bringing a spinach quiche. Our office manager, Cheryl, has been asked politely to bring her pierogie casserole. By politely, I mean she won’t be let in the door without it. It’s really yummy.
Then we’ll have a fun group gift exchange where stealing is allowed – and half the fun.
Some offices like to get out for their celebration, but there are limitations on size and scheduling.
“We have a Christmas dinner at a local restaurant the week between Christmas and New Year. Staff only, no spouses nor significant others,” said one responder.
Another person said her office always invites the plus one, adding this year that it got changed to a New Year’s party.
It’s hard to get a reservation to hold a party for a big group just before Christmas.
Some bosses of smaller offices have the staff over to their homes. It’s a nice way to make staff feel like family and share in traditions.
Some offices get creative. My favorite answer came from Rayne Reitnauer, owner of the Cold Nose Lodge doggie day care in Alburtis.
She has trivia and prizes for her staff. That sounds like fun. There’s some good holiday-themed trivia that can be found on the internet if you’d like to borrow her idea.
Here’s a site with some suggestions:
(I looked for Hanukkah trivia, but didn’t have much luck. I’ll add to the story if anyone can suggest something.)
Insurance Chick Donna Hosfeld, who helped me spread the Christmas party question on her Facebook page, is taking her staff for lunch at a local brew pub.
Easton Mayor Sal Panto couldn’t resist plugging his city’s new Public Market as a great place for an office holiday party.
And a Realtor friend said his office is just going for a good old-fashioned cocktail party downtown – in Allentown, I presume.
So, I guess a little booze isn’t out of the question.
Large companies have some additional challenges. One is coordination with a large number of employees that might be working different shifts or at different locations.
Some rent big venues. While most people assume all companies are cutting back on extravagant parties, party balloon specialist Karen Ford said she’s received many job orders to decorate for large, office holiday parties between now and January.
One woman said her company divides parties into departments. It allows the parties to be more intimate and with people you work with on a daily basis.
A big question is always gifts – do you or don’t you?
Again, every office is different, but there were some common answers. Many bosses say they give small gifts to their staffers, often gift certificates or holiday bonuses.
Staffers often go together, pool resources and get something nice for the boss.
Years ago at a former job, we pitched in and got the boss a fluffy robe and spa set. She loved it.
But smaller token gifts also are nice.
Two years ago, I got my boss a little Charlie Brown Christmas tree. He put it up again this year. So, I’ll assume that gift was liked, too.
Every office is different. Every boss is different. Every co-worker is different.
I must say, though, I like our gift exchange battle for the best present.
Whatever you do, the best collective advice seems to be exclude no one, and have fun for everyone.