How to Keep the Holiday Office Party Merry and Professional

November 13, 2014

Christmas gingerbread men

November marks the beginning of the holiday season, when gift buying and holiday planning are in full swing. For many businesses, it is a time to celebrate another year of operation, thank employees for their hard work, and express gratitude to clients for their continued business. Cue the company holiday party.

Whether or not the company is arranging an extravagant event or keeping it simple, holiday office parties remain a reflection of both the company and its employees. Inappropriate behavior, such as too much alcohol consumption or unprofessional attire, can not only make for awkward moments at the next staff meeting, but it can also damage an employee’s reputation within the company.

To help avoid such scenarios and keep holiday merriment on the right track, follow these tips:

Tips for Employees

  • Read the invitation carefully. Invitations should specify whether or not spouses or significant others are welcome. Respect these guidelines because not only is it proper etiquette, but company budgets are also limited.
  • Dress appropriately. Holiday parties are still professional gatherings, so it is important to dress appropriately. If the invitation does not specify attire, ask another employee about the dress code in previous years.
  • Limit drinking. Open bars can be dangerous, especially if they precede a meal. It is a good idea to set a limit for yourself (one or two drinks), and eat a snack beforehand to avoid drinking on an empty stomach.
  • Avoid sensitive topics. Parties offer an opportunity to get to know coworkers on a personal level, but that doesn’t mean discussions should cover sensitive issues such as politics or religion. Stick to safe topics.

Tips for Employers

  • Provide details on the invitation. The more explicit the wording the better. Include details about dress code and specify whether or not employees may bring a guest. If a company suspects inappropriate behavior could be an issue, warn employees about it on the invitation with wording that is carefully thought out and diplomatic.
  • Set limits. Apply limits to the length of the party and the number of drinks. Shorter parties are less likely to result in inappropriate behavior than marathon celebrations, which might encourage excessive drinking. Employers may also consider providing a set number of drink tickets rather than an open bar. Another option is to host a luncheon where there is less of an expectation that alcohol will be served.
  • Ensure safety. Companies that host evening events with alcohol should consider organizing a car service to ensure employees will not drive with even modest alcoholic impairment. This measure has the added benefit of creating goodwill, because employees view it as both generous and caring.

Companies that implement these ideas will help party planners and attendees enjoy holiday celebrations safely while minimizing the chances of any next-day regrets.

Topics: Featured, Human Resources

Kay Oder


Kay Oder has owned six companies, has been a resource to thousands to businesses and brought solutions to help business owners minimize risk, improve business performance and navigate today’s highly regulated and complex “business of being an employer”.

Today, Kay uses the insights gained throughout her career as a speaker, business owner and business advisor. Audiences enjoy her candid, informed perspective on HR related topics as well as her razor-sharp southern wit.

Kay is also a Certified Business Performance Advisor with Insperity, the $2.6 billion business performance solutions provider she has called home since 1993. Kay has consistently been among the company’s top producers during her 20 plus years with the organization, earning Insperity’s highest honors, including the Top Volume, Circle of Excellence and the Chairman’s Club awards.

Prior to Insperity, Kay was the President and Co-founder of Texas Valve Specialists, a supplier in the oil and gas industry. She has also owned companies in the construction, demolition, machining and promotional apparel arenas. She spent four years as a client of Insperity and upon selling her last venture, joined the Insperity team.

From an early age Kay demonstrated an entrepreneurial spirit, beginning at age six when she sold cantaloupes from her parents’ front yard, which she offered three for fifty-cents, with a free puppy.

Kay and her husband, Dale, relocated to Austin from the Houston area in 1996 when a theft occurred in their family: their granddaughter was born and stole their hearts, so they had to follow.

Insperity, a trusted advisor to America’s best businesses for more than 30 years, provides an array of human resources and business solutions designed to help improve business performance. Insperity® Business Performance Advisors offer the most comprehensive suite of products and services available in the marketplace. Insperity delivers administrative relief, better benefits, reduced liabilities and a systematic way to improve productivity through its premier Workforce Optimization® solution. Additional company offerings include Human Capital Management, Payroll Services, Time and Attendance, Performance Management, Organizational Planning, Recruiting Services, Employment Screening, Financial Services, Expense Management, Retirement Services and Insurance Services. Insperity business performance solutions support more than 100,000 businesses with over 2 million employees. With 2016 revenues of $2.9 billion, Insperity operates in 61 offices throughout the United States. For more information, call 800-465-3800 or visit

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