Keeping your Office Party out of the Liability Zone

It’s that time of year – when it’s time for office parties, gift exchanges, holiday music, etc. but you want to be sensitive to the diversity among your staff. It isn’t as difficult as you might imagine – just follow these tips and throw an event that pleases everyone – or at least doesn’t offend.

Embrace diversity across the board


  • Regardless of religious preference, many celebrations include lights, so go for it. Decorate the office, employee lounge, the location of the office party with lights. It gives a festive appearance without catering to one religion – or lack of it over another.
  • Skip the Santa Clause, Nativity, Menorah, and go for winter holiday.
  • Cover a wide range of “winter” music and keep it in the background. Too loud prevents good conversation.


  • While the company covers the expense of the meal, make the appetizers a carry-in event. Employees can bring a plate of their family’s favorite appetizer, which often reflects their ethnic background. It’s a great way to learn more about each other. Keep it optional – you don’t want someone to miss the party just because they aren’t comfortable bringing a dish.
  • Don’t forget about your employees with allergies or religious taboos. In addition to traditional choices, offer some vegan, gluten free, nut free and/or dairy free items. Provide more than one meat choices.
  • Limit alcohol – enough


  • Choose icebreakers that focus on getting to know each other rather than tying it to the holiday.
  • Plan games that take teams and mix up the crowd.


  • Skip the ugly sweater, or other “costume” contests. It shows respect to those cultures/religions who keep to a specific dress code.
  • Unless you are going totally black tie, keep it business casual. People are more relaxed and have more fun when they are comfortable.


  • Make it very clear whether or not employees may bring a guest.
  • Unless your office party is held during office hours, allowing employees to bring a significant other with them lets them know that you care about them and the people that matter to them.

Planning an event is hard work, but it can also be rewarding. Ask employees for thoughts and ideas and remember what the real reason is for hosting the event – expressing gratitude toward your employees, acknowledging their value to the company and rewarding their accomplishments. When it’s done with tasteful consideration, it will also inspire them to tackle the new year with enthusiastic gusto.

With all that enthusiasm, you will soon be adding new staff. Visit us at Springborn Staffing or contact us today. We specialize in finding companies in Bangor and Portland, Maine the perfect-fit candidate for all their open positions.

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