A small retail business usually cannot afford the extravagance that a larger company can. In that case there are simpler options, such as catering a lunch in-house from a local deli, to taking employees out to a restaurant for lunch or dinner.
Sometimes the owner of a small business will host a party in her home. Although the hospitality may be well intended, I don't think it's the best option. From the owner's standpoint, employees can judge your personal circumstances and make comparisons to their own less lofty digs. From the employees' perspective, it is not as comfortable as a party held on neutral territory. The corporate hierarchy is still apparent when you're on the boss' turf.
Whether you plan to host a lavish or modest holiday party this year, keep these points in mind:
- Be as generous as your budget allows. Employees have worked hard for you all year and they are looking for a show of appreciation.
- You can make your event memorable by choosing an unusual location. Aquariums, art museums, sightseeing boats, rodeo ranches, regional airports are among the many different sites you can choose.
- Think about hiring entertainers to help break the ice. It can be a band, a DJ a magician, a local choral group or anything else which can cover for those awkward silences which are bound to occur at the beginning of the party.
- Have enough food. A hungry stomach leads to a cranky employee.
- Publish your policy on drinking, in advance, to avoid any misunderstandings.
- Well-chosen party favors will extend the good feelings after the last balloon has popped.
- Hire a professional party planner if you're planning a big event instead of wasting your staff's time.
- Mingle, mingle, and mingle. All of that positive public exposure is the added benefit of throwing a company bash.