You’ve probably read numerous articles on how to tackle the office Christmas party as a lowly employee, but where’s the guidance for the boss? It’s an oversight, considering they’re generally the person who has facilitated and is responsible for all the merriment. So, let’s remedy this with our office Christmas party survival guide for the business owner, who would rather be anywhere else than watching their team get drunk.
Show up and smile
First things first, you need to attend your party. Whether you’re reluctant because you’re Scrooge, or don’t want the hassle of sacking someone for doing something stupid, you must give the occasion your seal of approval by enduring it.
The office Christmas party is the ultimate team-building event. Your presence for at least a couple of hours is non-negotiable. So get yourself down to Primark for your Christmas jumper (anyone who spends more than £20 needs to question their life choices), channel your inner Bublé to get in the mood, and ready yourself for what’s going to be…an alright night.
Dressing as Santa is a big no-no
If you are considering making a statement with your outfit, don’t. Under no circumstances turn up dressed as Santa Claus, Mrs Claus, or Buddy the Elf. It’s not cute, it’s creepy and inappropriate.
Speaking of which, it’s 2023 – mistletoe should be nowhere near your party. It’s an HR nightmare waiting to happen.
Suffer in silence
If you’ve (wisely) delegated the organisation of your party to an employee, absolutely do not be the type of boss who spends the night complaining. The venue might be a dump, the food a disaster, and the entertainment a disgrace, but you need to let it go.
Your disdain is just going to make the night worse for everyone, especially your party planner. Grin and bear it, say how amazing everything is, and save the debrief for 11 months’ time when you can politely reallocate the job to someone else. You may, however, wish to cancel their Christmas bonus.
Work chat is banned
For one night only, talking shop is off the agenda. No asking Emma in payroll if the early pay has been organised and no checking in with John about that special offer email. Tonight, your topics of conversion are plans for Christmas, that TV show, that film, that football match, and anything else that doesn’t have a Trello board or Slack channel.
But what if an employee wants to talk about work with you? Easy, change the subject. This is an opportunity to find out what excites them outside of the working world. SEO strategies can wait until Monday. This is a party.
Become Mr/Mrs Christmas
Whilst you should take steps to ensure that you’re not the focal point of the party (acts such as sitting at the head of the table, hogging the karaoke, and drinking a bottle of Tequila are prohibited), you must adopt at least some traits of being a good host. This includes working the room. So, rather than standing glued to the wall, flanked by your management team, plunge into the unknown and brace yourself for some mingling.
You’ll find that your employees can be split into three categories. Those who want to avoid you at all costs (understandable and respectable), those who see this as the perfect opportunity to ask you for a pay rise (fair enough), and those who won’t leave you alone (suck-ups). Your task is to make an effort with everyone, whether this is an in-depth conversation, or just checking in to see how they’re finding the party (they’ll tell you that it’s amazing, but it’s not).
No social media nonsense
Do you remember when you used to go out, and it wasn’t documented and shared with every person you’ve ever met – from your Mum to your barista? For your Christmas party, revisit these glory days and implement a ban on social media posting.
Take one team photo at the start of the night for your brand’s Instagram, when everyone can still see straight, and then put the embargo in place. Anyone caught illicitly taking photos and uploading them should face disciplinary proceedings. Anyone caught videoing and uploading the dance-off should be sacked on the spot.
Judge, but subtly
Assuming that alcohol is going to be available at the party, it’s inevitable that some individuals are going to get (choose your adjective) smashed, battered or obliterated. Provided that any alcohol-influenced behaviour doesn’t involve fire, you should let your employees have fun and develop a short memory. This may entail turning a blind eye to a new office romance, forcibly forgetting criminal dance moves, or laughing off a piece of ill-advised feedback.
However, on a more serious note, if inappropriate behaviour does occur, it is your duty to deal with this accordingly. If this burden is too heavy, we suggest you think twice about serving alcohol – a decision that will no doubt go down very well with your team.
Try and have a little fun
It goes without saying that for you, as the boss, the office Christmas party is very much a work event. Running your own business can be remarkably stressful, but there’s a time and a place for letting your hair down, and the office party is not it. An employee waking up with a bit of ‘beer fear’ is one thing, for the business owner to do it is quite another.
By all means, take part in the Secret Santa (again, we must stress that you can’t dress as Santa), host the Christmas quiz, and have a glass of fizz. Do not, however, decide now is an appropriate time to tell everyone why Thomas didn’t pass his probation. Remember, you’re still the boss – it’s imperative that you remain professional throughout.
Don’t consult this blog at the party
Your employees may think you’re awkward already,but if you’re caught reading this article during the party, any credibility you have will disappear quicker than pigs in blankets at the buffet.
Read it, memorise it, and then check it again in a year to remind yourself. And of course, it is crucial that you do not print this article for your handy reference. Not only is this bad for the environment, it makes you look pathetic… “What are you reading?”
Don’t be a loser, go home
Set yourself a time to leave and stick to it. Staying until the dying embers of the party isn’t a good look for the boss. As we touched on, your attendance at the party is crucial, yet there comes a stage where your presence can become stifling and sorry, a bit sad. This isn’t personal, it’s business.
Ensure everyone is okay (does anyone need a cab home?), make your excuses, give the business card to a trusted, sober team member (set a small limit, they’ve had enough already) and head home. Then, wait until Monday to hear about any fallout – fingers crossed no one got arrested. Now you’re all sorted until the Summer party.
So there you have it
That’s the business owners’ survival guide for the office Christmas party. Follow the guidelines we’ve set out here and, with a little bit of luck, you’ll come out unscathed.
Thanks for reading. We’d love to hear from you if you have your own suggestions about how to tackle the Christmas party as the boss. Leave a comment now and we’ll be in touch.