Throwing a Company Party at Your Home: What to Do and What to Avoid

Intuit polled its readers to find out their worst company parties, and the answers included a story about a frat house run amok where co-workers made out, a door was broken, people got in screaming fights and someone walked in on the sales director while urinating. It’s all fun and games until someone gets walked in on going to the bathroom.

Let’s handle the most important thing first. To plan a successful company-sponsored event, put up signs designated where the bathroom is. Next, cover a few basics about safety, legalities and alcohol. But perhaps most importantly, you need to plan a civilized and incredibly fun experience that your staff will be buzzing about for months.

Keep the Pool Way Off Limits

Swimming pools should be off limits to company parties to prevent an impending disaster. Too much alcohol and an open pool with a few rowdy co-workers is not a good combination. Get some signage to indicate it’s off limits and lock your gate with a padlock to deter the free spirited. Besides, do you really want to see what your employees look like in their skivvies? That’s a sight you just can’t unsee at your next roundtable meeting.

Invite Spouses

If you want a solid turn-out at your company-sponsored event, make sure to invite spouses. You’ll not only see a higher turn-out, but spouses can also make it more fun. They’re prone to telling you some stories about your employees and lighten the mood. Besides, happy spouses make happy employees. A study from Washington University in St. Louis suggests a spouse’s personality and disposition can impact their partner’s success. Ignoring the spouse who loves a good party and hates being left out could result in a terrible performance on Monday morning.

Create a Wow Factor

An event isn’t fun just because people show up and start hanging out. If you want to avoid your employees making up excuses to get out of your next party, then plan a wow factor. Hire a great band, have an unusual attraction like an ice sculptor design something on the spot or book a comedian to entertain the crowd. Follow the wow by making a speech about your company’s success or recognizing your employees’ hard work to cement a positive and lasting impression.

Make It Fun, not Cheesy

Your event should be fun, but free and clear of any cheese factor. Unless you have a high-energy staff that loves being the center of attention, skip the karaoke machine and charades table. No one wants to be put on the spot to play lame party games. If you’re not sure, send out an informal survey to ask what your crew would like to do for a good time. Setting up a bowling lane or bocce ball court offers a unique alternative and creates the opportunity for a competitive evening.

Figure out Booze Patrol

Drinking can be a festive way to relax and break the ice, but it also can cause some problems if your employees take it too far. Think back to the last time you all went out to a bar. Now, amplify your memories times one hundred, and you’ll see the accounting department doing shots off each other’s stomachs and the social media director professing her love for the marketing executive down the hall. It could get ugly.

Now let’s figure out the legal implications. According to Lawyers.com, unless you are an alcohol vendor, it’s unlikely your company will be held responsible for any injuries caused by drunk employees. However, your state may vary on its laws of party hosts being responsible for drunk guests and their reckless behavior. Your best bet is to make sure everyone stays in line and gets home safely.

Send out a company wide memo before your event, but keep it light and cheerful. Ask employees to have fun but to behave responsibly and only drink a respectable amount. Arrange complimentary rides home through a designated driving service or system like Uber. Ask the bartender to either weaken the drinks of repeat customers or decline service altogether to those who seem inebriated.

As your party is winding down and everyone is having a nice time, remember to toast to your event’s success.

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