Every year around this time, I hear from people complaining about various ways their companies are mishandling the holiday party, so here are eight rules for throwing a better company party.
1. Hold it during work hours, especially if attendance is any way obligatory. Seriously. People will be much more enthusiastic about attending.
2. After you follow rule #1, make arrangements so that no one is stuck covering the phones while everyone else goes to the party.
3. Don't expect people to read your mind. If there are work repercussions to not attending, be honest and tell people they're expected to attend. But if the event is truly supposed to be for their enjoyment, accept that some people won't show up because they don't enjoy such events (or would rather spend their non-work time doing something else), and be okay with that. Don't penalize people for not going, even just in your head.
4. Do not hold the party on a boat. People must be able to escape at any time.
5. Under no circumstances should employees need to pay to attend. If you need to charge your party guests in order to cover your expenses, that's a sign that you need to have a less lavish party.
6. Hanukkah ornaments do not belong on a Christmas tree.
7. Door prizes. Have them.
8. Consider letting your staff vote on whether they want a holiday party or a day off ... and don't be upset when lots of people vote for the day off.