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It’s that time of year when, as a business owner, you get to give something back to the hard-working team who have contributed to your company’s success.   So on your marks, get set… Christmas party!   It doesn’t take much to throw a good festive bash - we do one every year and the staff always have a good time.   So whether it’s a night in a restaurant or some party food and drinks in the office, the important thing is that you make the gesture.   Involve everyone in the company right from the start as to what kind of event it’s going to be - you’re throwing this party for the staff, not yourself remember. You might want to ping a quick survey round the office with different options, to establish where you’re going, what you’re eating, if partners are coming, that kind of thing.   As for the big night itself, there are some rules that managers and business owners should follow:   1) Set the tone. Be aware that the spirit of this party will be down to you and your senior team. You must all be there for a start, even if you aren’t in the mood. Next, you’ve got to be seen. Encourage managers to talk to as many people as possible and get everyone away from the people they sit next to every day. Get round the tables and speak to as many people as you possibly can. You have a unique opportunity here to build your team by having them all together in a different environment, so use it.   2) Set sensible limits. A free bar is a great idea, but restrict it to certain hours and let everyone know in advance. This might sound too obvious, but none of your senior team should go too crazy with their drinking and do or say anything that they’ll regret. It might even be a good idea to appoint someone like your HR manager to oversee the whole night and head off problems before they begin. Finally, you need to know when to call it a night - don’t still be partying when everyone else is wandering the streets looking for a taxi. Use your common sense recognise when the party peaks and say goodnight then, leaving everyone else to continue the night as they want to.   3) Forgive and forget. After a few too many drinks, expect that you may get your ear bent by one of your employees. Whatever you do, don’t hold it against that person. If they’re a valued and responsible member of your team, just turn a deaf ear to anything you heard at the party. Your HR ‘onlooker’ should be able to head off any instances of serious misbehaviour.   4) Non-attenders aren’t party poopers. Remember that there are all sorts of reasons for people not coming to the Christmas party. Parties aren’t everyone’s thing, some people just don’t mix work and pleasure and others may have a prior engagement. Don’t try too hard to talk them into it or make them feel guilty. We run a prize draw in the office for those who can’t come, just to make everyone feel included.   5) Don’t be ‘the man’. It’s a party, so don’t be boring. That means no big speeches about what a great year it’s been. Unless you happen to have a naturally funny public speaker among your management, don’t do it. At a party to mark our company’s 10th birthday, giving a speech was just seen as an interruption to the night. Less is definitely more - thank everyone for coming, then let them get on with enjoying themselves. Also, don’t ban any topics of conversation, such as talking shop. Work is the thing that everyone at the party has in common, remember, so it’s to be expected that there will be a certain amount of chat about what’s been going on in the company.   No matter what you do, your party should be an event that’s looked forward to beforehand and talked about afterwards. One of the highlights of the year. It also helps strengthen your team and increases employee engagement. Happy Christmas!   By Sean Blanks, marketing director,  

In closing

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