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The holiday season is chockfull of celebrations, and in the workplace, it’s a great time to tap into that energy — both recognize all your team has accomplished and look forward to what’s ahead. But is it worth it to spend the time, effort, and money on a big company party?

Robert Kraemer, Life Time Work leader in Minneapolis, Minn., thinks this year is ideal for reinvigorating these events. “I’ve been a resident and employee in downtown Minneapolis for a long time, and I’ve seen how the city has reanimated since the pandemic,” says Kraemer. “This year, I think companies can focus on planning an in-person holiday party to bring people together to have a good time, while also establishing a ‘back to the office’ initiative for 2023.”

Beyond setting the intent for your event, it’s important to consider the culture of your organization, who will be attending, and the overall feel of the gathering that you’re hoping to create. “Be mindful of when you’re planning on celebrating — ask around to see if it intersects with holidays your staff celebrates — and triple check the details. The goal is for everyone to feel comfortable and excited to join.”

With that in mind, Kraemer offers four tips to consider when planning your company party this holiday season.

1. Strategically choose the venue.

The destination is one of the most important elements in party planning and can determine the formality and vibe of your event. “The location depends on the company and the budget,” says Kraemer. “If your corporate office has undergone a remodel recently, host the party at your office, especially if your employees have been working remotely. It could be an opportunity to show off your new space.”

Want to get out of the office? Keep an eye on cool new spots in your community. “Look at local breweries, new restaurants with event rooms, or other cool venues,” suggests Kraemer.

2. Provide entertainment.

Depending on your budget, having a DJ or hosted karaoke are fun options. Music creates a lively atmosphere, and a DJ can emcee the night by making announcements or encouraging people to dance.

You could also set up a photobooth for employees or do a raffle and give out fun prizes. “Encourage people to document and share the event they’re at on social media,” says Kraemer.  “It’s a great way to showcase responsible fun and togetherness, while also self-promoting your company. It creates a sense of FOMO and people will wish they were there!”

3. Give thoughtful gifts.

“When it comes to employee gifts, be intentional about it or skip it,” says Kraemer. “If it’s marked with your company logo and the employee can truly use it, I think that’s great.” (If you’re looking for ideas for gift-giving in the workplace, check out “10 Ideas for Workplace Giving“.) Another option is to give some or all the allocated gift budget to a cause. “Consider integrating a nonprofit or charity when it comes to giving. You can gift your employees with an item that encourages them to donate to a specific cause.”

4. Curate the menu.

Be intentional about your food and drink choices — and offer a variety so there’s something for everyone. “Going the extra mile when you’re planning so there are options for those with restrictions, for whatever reason, is always helpful,” says Kraemer.

And consider being a little more lenient when it comes to dessert — it’s the holidays after all. “There’s a Life Time Work leader and AMP cycle performer who encouraged her riders during the state-fair season to go have fun and not think about killing themselves at Life Time in order to earn their unhealthy food. It’s about balance,” says Kraemer. “And I agree: I think this is a season to give yourself a little more grace for indulgence — be aware of what you’re eating but have some fun, too.”

Think about beverages, too. Perhaps there’s a locally brewed beer or signature cocktail and mocktail you can feature. (If your event is taking place during the workday and alcohol is not an option, crafting a customized mocktail can add a festive feel.)

Be careful to keep the intent on being together and not about the drinking, though. “Speaking as a sober person, I think steering focus away from having it be all about drinking is more inclusive,” says Kraemer. “It also keeps it professional and promotes finding other ways to have fun.”

All in all, do what’s right for your group. If you have a smaller team that’s part of a larger corporation, the best action may be to gather as a small team. “If each department has a budget to host something on their own, then teams can grab a small table at a restaurant or do something a little more intimate,” says Kraemer.

Whatever you decide, make the most of the time together — and don’t forget to celebrate all the great work you’ve accomplished over the year.

Callie Chase
Callie Fredrickson

Callie Fredrickson is a content editor at Life Time.

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