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Deck the Hallways

In the next few months, workplaces across the country will celebrate some of the best-known holidays in North America, including Thanksgiving and Christmas.

But many employees will observe lesser-known days—or no holidays at all. Throwing successful in-office festivities that include everyone without making anyone feel compelled to join in can be a challenge. Here are a few things to consider when planning an in-office party.

1. Go Local

Support small businesses and avoid cookie-cutter office parties at the same time by considering the homegrown talent or homemade supplies in your area. For example, invite a local artist to lead a painting workshop, or bring autumn indoors with warm doughnuts from the bakery down the street and spiced cider from a nearby mill.

2. Celebrate And Educate

Don’t forget to include major international holidays such as Yom Kippur, Diwali, and Eid al-Adha. Even if no one in your office observes these holy days, recognizing and learning about them can be interesting and fun. Celebrate by providing traditional foods, such as Jewish kreplach.

3. Office Hours Only

December is a notoriously busy month. Instead of adding one more after-hours event, give employees the gift of a business-hours gathering. Consider hosting a lunch, an afternoon of games, or a group outing. Save out-of-office parties for a less-crowded spot on the calendar.

4. Appeal to All

Make sure there’s something on the calendar for everyone by celebrating nonreligious events such as fall football season, company achievements, employee birthdays, or national holidays like America Recycles Day (15 November) or National Bagel Day (15 January). Ask employees for suggestions and always be mindful of dietary restrictions.

5. Group Effort

Ask for volunteers to join a committee to plan workplace celebrations. Established employees can bring institutional memory, newer ones may introduce fresh ideas, and all employees will be able to raise any concerns and bring perspective. Under a designated committee, annual celebrations can become much-anticipated office traditions.

6. Party with Purpose

If potlucks and decorating competitions start to feel old, bring office members together to give back to the community. Some year-round activities could include writing letters to members of the armed forces, holding a book drive, cleaning parks or trails, or supporting other local causes.

7. Spruce Up

Decorating for holidays can be tricky. Employees may be uncomfortable with religious symbols, such as crosses and menorahs, or macabre Halloween objects. To create a festive atmosphere, try decorating common areas according to season: garlands of winter pine or brilliant oak leaves brighten up the office without invoking specific faiths.

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Article written by Clarissa McIntire

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