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A room full of couples can make things very awkward for those who are single. Reserve the Christmas party for colleagues to get to know each other and suggest partners come along to a more informal summer do instead.
When you’re devising table plans, don’t separate top brass from the rest of the office. Now is the time for everyone to mingle, not to highlight divisions within the company.
Elaborate fancy dress
Full-on costumes require time, effort and often a serious loss of dignity – no-one wants to navigate the Central Line at 7.30pm dressed as Fred Flintstone. Keep it simple by suggesting everyone wear some kind of hat, or a theme colour like red, white or green.
Booze without food
Long Island Iced Teas on arrival is a recipe for party disaster. Start the night with bubbles and hold back the hard liquor for later. If you are offering a free bar all night, advise bartenders to serve single shots of spirits only.
Cocktail bars may look stylish, but slow mixologists can cause tailbacks, so make sure you hire pros and offer a limited number of options, pre-made for speedy service.
A cash bar
No, not even after dinner. This sends out all the wrong signals. If money is tight, do a lunchtime event. Everyone will thank you for letting them finish work early and you can make it very clear that the company card goes back in the wallet at, say, 5pm.
Killing the party
Don’t pull the plug on the disco mid-Gaga. Instead, roll out some midnight snacks, then put a blue or green wash on the lights – a tried and tested industry trick to get everyone in the mood to go. Better still, book taxis.
No after-party plan
Pre-empt the ‘where shall we go now?’ fret by booking – or at least identifying – a bar or club for those who want to go on.
It’s fair to assume that the majority of revelers will have a sore head the morning after, so don’t be a stickler for the start time – your team be fresher and more productive (not to mention very grateful) if you push next-day arrivals back to 10 or 11am.
This article first appeared in Square Meal Venues & Events Autumn 2011