5 Tips for Hosting an Inclusive Holiday Party

By Ian Acosta on December 7, 2016

It is that time of the year again. The holidays are rapidly approaching and the year is winding down.

For students, it is the time to increase studying for finals, to finish up papers, and to make arrangements to get home for the holidays. For those with on-campus jobs, that is only another added part of their calendars in terms of balancing their schedules.

It is common for employers to host holiday parties to not only recognize the hard work that their employees have done, but also to celebrate the many festivities that come along with the season. How can employers properly execute this while making sure no group feels excluded?

Here are a few tips to make sure the holiday work party is fun and receptive for all.

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1. Decor

The look and the setting of the holiday party is the primary impression all employees see as they enter the festivities. It is important here to not have any decor that is noticeably associated with one specific holiday. Remember, the theme is supposed to be as neutral as possible and not focus on one specific holiday or religion.

Keep in mind neutral colors such as white for snow and decorations representative of the winter season instead of a holiday. It is a party after all so do not skimp on the balloons, streamers, and other party symbols everyone is quite familiar with.

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2. Food

What dishes should be provided? This is a common question for all gatherings but even more so in this setting. If it is in the budget, offer a wide variety of foods from all different backgrounds to ensure everyone’s palette and dietary preferences are satisfied.

Cater a decent amount of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options and create signs to reflect the dishes appropriately. To get a better sense of what your workers want — after all it is for them — send out a survey with a number of options and selections and ask them to vote. Provide a space for a write-in option too. Your workers will feel appreciated and excited to go to a party where they can have their voices heard.

Cater great options and workers will be looking forward to next year’s party as soon as the day after.

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3. Schedule

Scheduling a holiday party might be the trickiest task in terms of throwing a holiday party for student workers. As mentioned before, this is the time when students are ramping up their study hours, writing papers, taking exams, and finishing up projects. Not only that, but some students will be observing their respective holidays throughout this time which adds to the trickiness of scheduling.

It is important to be mindful of workers’ observances. In order to best accommodate this situation, send out a list of dates and a few time slots to gauge interest in when would be an appropriate time to host a gathering.

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4. Music

The general rule of thumb when hosting a culturally diverse holiday party is to avoid the usual holiday music associated with Christmas, Hanukkah and the like. Instead, go the safer route and play music everyone is familiar with such as rock, R&B, or country.

Your student workers are 18 to 22 years old, after all. They will generally opt for the hits out right now such as Taylor Swift, The Weeknd, Drake, Justin Bieber, and other top artists of today. Play it safe and go with music everyone can dance to and enjoy.

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5. Plus One’s

This may add a wrinkle to the budget, but tell employees they can bring a guest if they so desire. Not only will this give them the opportunity to bring a friend along to enjoy the party with, but this also can work as a recruiting event as well. If a well-thrown holiday party can be pulled off, it may attract some outside guests to look into applying to join the team.

Impressions to guests play a big role and especially for students who might be looking for a school job to make some extra money. Show them that this job is a great place to work, and how they will be rewarded every year. If even a handful of people apply, wouldn’t it be worth it?

Company holiday parties should be a fun, rewarding time for all as thanks for everyone’s hard work and effort throughout the year. When planning, make sure that theme is at the forefront and it will make planning all other aspects much less stressful.

Holidays are a time of celebration and coming together. This is a perfect time to make sure that message is accurately received by all involved. This will not only create a fun company atmosphere, but also attract a great deal more potential student employees to join the tradition.

By Ian Acosta

Uloop Writer
University of Illinois

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