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Do’s And Don’ts Of Throwing A Workplace Party

Written by: Tracy Briggs
Published on: Oct 30, 2017

Work Party picture

We all know workplace parties can go very wrong.

Fred from accounting gets way too drunk, Bill from the mailroom starts using the photocopier for things other than paper, and Patty breaks out in hives because she didn’t know there were strawberries in the fruit punch.

Whether it’s a boozefest or a snoozefest, there is a lot of room for error (not to mention potential for litigation) when the boss throws a party.

But there are things that you can do to improve your odds of throwing a party your employees will be talking about until next year.


DO understand your employees. Would they like families to be included, or would they prefer t an adults-only affair?

DO give them an idea of what to wear. People don’t want to show up under or overdressed. #Awkward

DO give them plenty of notice. This is especially true for a holiday party. People are so busy around Christmas and New Year’s.  Six weeks notice is preferred for a holiday party.

DO consider an off-month yearly party. While Christmas is the expected time to have your annual party, it’s also the busiest time of the year. Consider throwing your party in March or April, when busy schedules clear out.

DO pay attention to your menu. Have plenty of options for vegans and those with gluten sensitivities.

DO have comfortable seating. Make sure people have a place to visit prior to the dinner.

DO keep any planned program short. People are here to have a good meal and a drink or two—they don’t really want to listen to you talk.

DO make your program fun. Shoot a short video in the workplace the week prior to the party.

DO have free cabs on hand for employees who might drink too much.

DO have prizes. Door prizes, prizes for work attendance, whatever. People want the goods.


DON’T turn this into a board meeting. Avoid work talk whether it’s from the stage or at tables. This is a break from work. As a boss, you set the example. If you start talking work, your employees will think they should, too.

DON’T make people introduce themselves. Boring. Have name tags available. But don’t go from table to table and make people tell us who they are.

DON’T go nuts with planned activities. Your employees get told what to do at work all week. Don’t order them to play a stupid game at their party. Not to mention, most women don’t want to navigate the egg on the spoon obstacle course in dresses and high heels.

DON’T encourage people to drink too much. Provide them with 1-2 free drinks, then have a cash bar.

DON’T stay all night. You’re the boss. They’re going to have more fun without you there. Stay for most of the party, but let your employees have some fun while you’re away.

DON’T do the same old thing. Maybe your workplace always has a formal, but poorly attended, dinner at a hotel. Hold a theme party or cater in a lunch. Make it a white elephant, ugly sweater or dress like your favorite Christmas movie character party. Shake it up like a snowglobe.

DON’T be the only decision-maker. Send out surveys months prior to a party and ask employees what they like and don’t like about company parties. Implement some of their suggestions.

DON’T ignore your budget. If your company just went through massive layoffs, don’t hold a huge blowout party. It looks bad. Even if your company is flush, maybe you don’t need to throw a big dinner party. Maybe, your employees would enjoy a nice catered lunch at work or simply a bonus check.

The best advice in party planning is this: think back to the parties you’ve most enjoyed. Most of the time, there was good food, drink, and conversation. Don’t overthink it.

People know how to party. You’re just there to give them a little nudge.