Posted by: Professionals In Human Resources Association (PIHRA) | October 27, 2010

Holiday Party Time . . . OH No!

By Jay Lewis, member of the Club PIHRA Council

It’s that time of year once again.  The CEO wanders by your desk and casually mentions, “Hey, I was thinking that we could have a holiday party for the employees.  It’s been a tough year.  Let’s do something really nice.  Of course we don’t have much of a budget.  Why don’t  you throw a little something together”.  And then the stress sets in.

When the economy isn’t in great shape and profits are down, the budget might not allow for raises, bonuses or expensive employee gifts, holiday special events are a great way to show the team that they are appreciated and to build employee morale.  It’s important to keep in mind, that in order to fulfill this goal and to really show the employees that they are truly recognized for their hard work, it takes more than a token gesture by the administration.  In other words, you can’t just go down to the corner supermarket, purchase a few dozen sprinkle cookies  and throw them on a table next to the water cooler.  It takes a little effort and know-how to bring together a successful party that will be long remembered . . . for the right reasons.  So, let’s throw around a few ideas that can help get you on the road to a great holiday celebration.

The first idea that probably comes to mind is to have the annual holiday party in a nearby hotel ballroom.  Sure, you can host a successful event at a hotel ballroom.  But this is not going to be your best or most economical option.  Chances are the decor will look very similar to last year’s and the menu will be about the same and just as expensive.  How about hosting the event on-site at the very location of your company?  This opens up an endless range of possibilities for creativity and options.  That is of course, if hosting the party at your location is logistically possible and does not pose undue risk.

Where to have the party?  Do you have a decent sized conference room, clear space on the factory floor, parking lot, loading dock or lobby?   Rearrange a few pieces of furniture, do a bit of sweeping and dusting and we are halfway there.  Any holiday party will get old and boring if the same thing is done year after year.  It needs to be kept exciting by trying something a little different each time.

International Lunch
We live in LA.  There are an endless variety of restaurants from which to choose.  Chinese, Middle Eastern, French, Mexican, Italian, Japanese, Indian . . . the list goes on and on.  So choose a country, pick up the phone and order a little more food that you think that you will need for your employee’s hearty appetites.  Get some good music from that region (Itunes is a great source) and play it with a decent sized boom box.  Seek out any employees from the international region or who have traveled to that destination for help with the decor.  Travel agencies will also sometimes provide you with travel posters.  Give prizes for the most creative and authentic costumes.

Holiday Carolers
Serve a holiday theme dessert and have wandering carolers provide the entertainment.

Breakfast or Lunch with Santa
A family oriented activity where children of the employees have a chance to visit with Santa.  This is a great way for employees families to get acquainted and to rekindle friendships.  Breakfast can be catered or continental style.  An area is established and decorated where children can visit with Santa.  While the guests are waiting to visit with Santa, the children make crafts which can be gift wrapped and given to their parents as gifts.  The adult guests can be entertained with a bingo game in their own area or help their children with crafts.

Wild West Holiday
A BBQ is an inexpensive way to feed a good sized crew of employees without dipping too deep into the budget.  Even if it is burgers and dogs.  Throw in some good chili, potato salad and apple pie and they will be ready to hit the trail for another day of hard work.  Spin some country western music, hire a DJ or a local band and you are ready for an evening of line dancing and fun.  Give prizes for the best costume.

So there are a few ideas to get those creative ideas flowing.  Organizing a party committee can spread around the work and also give other employees “ownership or buy-in” on the event and take some of the stress off one person.   A “professional” event planner can be brought in to reduce the stress level and sleepless nights prior to the big or little bash.   And by the time you factor in lost time for employees organizing the event, paying full retail for goods and services, creativity and fresh ideas . . . a professional planner can be a pretty good investment.   Remember! . . .Productive happy workers, great holiday memories and high employee morale . . . priceless!

Jay Lewis is a member of the Club PIHRA Council.  He is President and owner of Lewis Events (, an event planning and production company that specializes in theme parties, entertainment and corporate events, that break out of the ordinary and bring an abundance of new ideas to the table.  They service a wide area including LA, Orange County, Ventura, San Diego, Las Vegas, Sun Valley Idaho, Salt Lake and beyond.  He looks forward to meeting many of you at the next Club PIHRA event.



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