I was lucky to meet the energetic and super nice award-winning author, Liese Sherwood-Fabre, this summer at ThrillerFest in NYC. She’s one fascinating lady having lived in Honduras, Mexico, and Moscow, Russia.
Liese’s debut novel, Saving Hope, a thriller set in Russia, is now available from Musa Publishing and her contemporary romantic novella Reindeer Wars is available and perfect for the holidays! She’s here talking about how to plan the office holiday party.
My latest novella, Reindeer Wars, involves an office party complete with a holiday sweater contest. My first contact with this tradition was at my very first job out of college when I was “volunteered” to the planning committee.
The first hint at how seriously this office took the preparation and execution of this annual event was when they selected me as the official note taker and keeper of the party notebook—a binder with the history of all previous holiday events. I would like to share my observations and advice to those stuck—er, honored—with this task:
1) The venue depends upon group size, finances, and the serving of alcohol. If there’s a conference room large enough to hold everyone, you can certainly cut costs, but policies may restrict imbibing on the premises. (Note, alcohol policies may also enter into the decision for #2.)
2) The work policies can also greatly affect the time of day. If held at lunch time, employees have to go back to work. Late afternoon might avoid returning to work, but another issue arises concerning offering a lot of food when everyone’s still full from lunch and not ready for dinner. After work avoids this second issue, but then those attending have to deal with staying late and feeding family members not in attendance.
3) The next issue is the menu. The year I was on the planning committee, we decided to have it catered rather than a pot-luck. This created quite a bit of grumbling from the non-committee members. Not that the cost (see below) was more, only that they couldn’t bring in their favorite chili recipe (nothing says “holiday” like ground meat in tomato sauce.) We compromised by inviting staff to contribute desserts. Note: when a pot-luck is involved, an additional issue emerges—attributing the dish to its creator. To label or not to label must be determined as well.
4) Unless the office has some sort of budget for this event, employees will need to cough up something to cover decorations, food, etc., and the price is the next thing to determine. This is where something like my first office’s notebook comes in handy. It provides guidelines for both the costs-of-holidays-past as well as any sliding fee scale based on job position. Remind managers/executives tradition suggest they should cover their assistant or secretary.
5) If you make it through all those decisions, one of the most controversial must still be hurdled. What type of entertainment should be involved? At a minimum, there should be music playing. A selection of secular holiday classics is the safest bet—from “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” to “Rudolf, the Red-Nose Reindeer.” Should more be desired, a skit committee can be formed from the full planning committee. The budding thespians, however, should be reminded that any ridicule must be directed to those outside the office—such as clients. Remember, the assistant you mock today may be the one who loses your file tomorrow.
As each of these decisions are successfully debated and implemented, just recall it only happens once a year and by the next event, there’ll be a whole new crop of junior staff to take this on and build upon the wisdom you chronicled in your addition to the notebook.
Can you think of anything I forgot to help guide this year’s and next’s office party-planners?
About Reindeer Wars:
Tina has a tendency to go a little overboard when decorating for the holidays, but Brian decides her skills are just what he needs to get into the Christmas spirit. Can this budding relationship survive when they find themselves in a knock-down-drag-out competition to win the office’s “most outrageous holiday sweater?”
Liese Sherwood-Fabre grew up in Dallas, Texas and knew she was destined to write when she got an A+ in the second grade for her story about Dick, Jane, and Sally’s ruined picnic. After obtaining her PhD from Indiana University, she joined the federal government and had the opportunity to work and live internationally for more than fifteen years—in Africa, Latin America, and Russia. Returning to the states, she seriously pursued her writing career and has published several pieces. Her debut novel Saving Hope, a thriller set in Russia, is now available from Musa Publishing and her contemporary romantic novella Reindeer Wars is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo.