Champagne toast at an office Christmas party

How to Set the Tone for Your Company Holiday Party [Template Included!]

by Jim Guttmann, on November 28, 2016
Taking time to set proper expectations for your company’s holiday party could be the difference between a Winter Wonderland and the Nightmare Before Christmas…

Although a Holiday Party is a work related function, its purpose includes offering an escape from the usual work environment. Employees are encouraged to relax; let your hair down; have a good time; come together as a family; get to know one another on a more personal level (rather than purely professional); have a drink or two; and be grateful for the good things in life.

Yet holiday parties can bring out questionable behavior in even the most mild-mannered employee. Something about being outside of the actual office setting can cause employees to lose their inhibitions and put that darn lampshade on their head. While a successful office party should be a time for putting a jingle in your mingle, it is still important for all employees to remain professional and respectful.

What’s Considered Non-Appropriate Office Party Behavior? 
The company party is not a time to tell off color jokes, dress in clothes that are too revealing, act inappropriately, or drink alcohol to the point where it is illegal to drive home. And when some of the aforementioned “no-no’s” happen, there can be unintended consequences. Those attending the party can be offended, actual harassment can take place, and there could be legal consequences if someone leaves the company party in an inebriated condition. Well, by bringing all this up, it seems like I’m trying to take all the fun out of the Holiday Party. However, there are ways to ensure that everyone has a great time - which is, after all, the whole point!

Setting Employee Expectations 
My best advice to you as an employer is to proactively address your expectations (preferably in writing) in advance of the event. Here are some suggested “words of wisdom” when it comes to addressing your employees about expected office party behavior:

Template: Notice to Employees Attending the Holiday Party 
It is always nice to see our "family" together and to get the chance to visit with one another without the pressures of daily work. We should have a lot of fun at ________ tonight. Dress for the event is Holiday Business Casual (no jeans, shorts or flip flops).

I would like to remind our staff that we need to look out for each other and our guests. We want everyone to have maximum fun but, if you drink, please do so responsibly. If you should observe anyone in a condition where they should not be driving, please arrange for someone else to drive them home or let me know. If no options are available, we will make arrangements for a taxi at no charge.

May we all have a wonderful time and Happy Holidays to everyone!


Jim Guttmann

As a LandrumHR Senior Human Resources Manager, Jim is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and has over 30 years of HR generalist experience. He holds a Masters in Business Administration from Florida State University and is an active member of the Raleigh-Wake Human Resources Management Association in North Carolina. Jim is also certified as a County Mediator in the State of Florida and in the administration of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Jim is also very involved in his church community and is commissioned as Stephen Ministry Leader.

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