If it's really such a hassle, don't have one. Give everyone a gift card with a photo of your smiling CEO wearing a Combo SantaHat/Yarmulke/NubianHeadgear/Keffiyeh and move on.
But if you're going to have a party, then have a party!
It is possible, according to none other than recent party attendee Stanley Bing at Fortune.
Here are my thoughts (not rules, darn it. If you're going to have a party, knock off the rules).
1. A party is an opportunity for people to socialize and celebrate. Opportunity is the operative word. If it's a "gotcha" ("Harvey didn't show up for the party; send him to Fargo this winter to do outdoor facility maintenance"), it's not a party.
Oops. I heard you. "Steve, you don't get it. I work for a big company that has a lady with her hair in a bun carrying an attendance clipboard and taking names. What can I do?"
No problem, holiday-oppressed worker bee. Thats exactly why this is All Things Workplace. You need the official Holiday Party Excuse Generator. Answer a few questions and you'll have a beautifully written excuse that can be emailed to the host(ess) in question.
2. You are personally responsible for your happiness if you choose to go. Really. Happiness is a choice.
In the event that others are not as personally responsible as you, try to avoid dumping on them. Especially if "them" is your boss and you have been personally responsible for consuming the entire supply of Grey Goose. Note the delightful, festive give-and-take between the employee below and her allegedly cheap (soon-to-be-former) boss, Jim:
3. Bosses: Follow "The Natural Laws of Parties for Leaders" from Wally Bock
If you are the boss, then I suggest you follow the suggestions in Wally Bock's Three Star Leadership Letter.
This is the single newsletter that I read clear-through every week. Why? Wally always has something useful that isn't in his blog. And, I can read it in one pane of my email reader. My recommendation: Give yourself a free gift and subscribe. Here's a thought from Wally on holiday parties:
The Natural Laws of Parties for Leaders
It's holiday party time. And, if you are an "official" leader, you need to pay attention to the natural laws of parties and leadership.
Natural Law 1: The party changes when you arrive. It changes again when you leave. What you see is not the real party. It's "the party when you're there."
Natural Law 2: You're still the boss. Do not suffer from the delusion that you're just one of the team. You're not. Everything you say or do will influence the people who work for you, just like every other day.
Natural Law 3: The people at the party would rather hang out with their friends and relax a bit than listen to speeches from you or anyone else. Let the party be their party. If you must speak, consider a two minute time limit. Thank people for their contributions this year, wish them a good time, and shut up.
Natural Law 4: That odds are high that at least one person who works for you will do something really stupid during the party. (Ed. Note: Please see video above). The odds go up with every alcoholic drink. Consider this a good reason to leave early.
Natural Law 5: You are not immune from Natural Law 4. An even better reason to leave early.
Let us know about the parties that went really well. I'm thinking they are actually in the majority and, therefore, don't make "the news".
Visit the wonderful photo source: www.davidfawcett.co.uk