How to Stop Your Office Christmas Party Going Sideway

By Mark LeBusque. Published at Dec 10, 2020, in Features

"The office Christmas party is a great opportunity to catch up with people you haven't seen for 20 minutes" – Julius Sharpe

It's that time of the year, and in a year like no other, the excitement and anticipation of the office Christmas Party is starting to build to a fever pitch.

Many will have already called off the end of year festivities, particularly those who have decided to make 2020 the year of WFH and will opt for the virtual celebrations over Zoom, MS Teams, Skype for Business, or whatever their platform of choice has become. No doubt there will be a disappointment for some who look forward to the end of year catch up and chance to celebrate with their work colleagues.

However, as some states are more advanced in re-opening, the planning and excitement will be building. There will be many who after a year of constraints will be ready to unleash at what could be their first human to human social event for eight months.

So, as a manager, how can you ensure that all of this built-up excitement, energy and need to let go doesn't end up in throwing more curveballs into a year that has already provided the greatest challenges you have ever faced?

Here are five failsafe ways to keep your Christmas Party from going sideways and turning 2021 into another year to forget from the fallout of a bad end to 2020:

  1. Stick to the Standard Bar Options – similar to the saying "like pigs to strawberries." You know the type who usually sip away on a beer or a nice glass of pinot are all of a sudden doing laybacks or shots at the bar. It doesn't take long and things will get very messy. It's better to cop some criticism for limiting the drinks menu, and possibly having a tab for a limited time than having two or three of the team comatose on tequila slammers.
  2. Beware the Risks of a Secret Santa Blow-up – one of the fun elements at an end of year bash is receiving a gift from a secret Santa at work. Unfortunately, in the excitement of the gift buying moment, there's a chance that a 'joke' or a 'fun present' will cause someone personal harm and will potentially breach company policy. The last thing you want to have to do in the break is investigate via the process of elimination who the culprit was. A timely disclaimer is the best way to remind work colleagues of their responsibilities.
  3. Keep Work at Work – As a manager, you know there will be a chance that one of your team members will still be carrying some baggage from that latest pay or performance review. Once they get on the truth serum, there's every chance of confrontation with them. This can be embarrassing for both of you. Keep an eye on that team member and shutdown any conversation they look to start very quickly with a simple 'we're here to enjoy each other's company not talk work'.
  4. Avoid the Social Media Hangover – once the festivities have kicked off, the phones come out and Facebook, Instagram etc start to get loaded up with images that will be there forever. If you're going to set one policy at the Christmas Party, I'd suggest that it's not posting late night 'happy' snaps that will be there well after the hangover has gone.
  5. Keep Your Distance and think COVID safe – whilst it's fantastic we can be together again, remember that by law there are still social distancing protocols to cover abide by. A whole group photo at the end of the night (you get my drift) once everyone has had a bevvy or two will not bode well when it gets posted and commented on by your resident company social influencer. These images could land you in hot water with more than your CEO. Remind people of the current laws to avoid any potential fallout.

I'm not for one moment being the party pooper here, however, humans who have been cooped up for up to eight months in some places have been released and this could end in tears at the end of year company Christmas party.

A few friendly words of reminder about protocols, policy and laws here and there will go a long way to having a night to remember for the right reasons.

We all deserve a Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays in 2020.

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