Office holidays can be epic fun or epic disasters. A great holiday party shows appreciation for your team’s hard work throughout the year and helps forge strong bonds between co-workers, while a bad holiday party can lower morale. Here are some tips to help ensure your party is remembered for all the right reasons.

Make it Convenient
The holidays are hectic times and people have many obligations between their family, friends, community groups, etc. Pick a date that is convenient for most people. Many companies choose a date in early December before people get into the thick of the holidays, and some choose to hold their party after the holidays, when things have died down a bit. Another option that pleases many people is to close the office at noon on a Friday and have a luncheon party, giving the group the day off after the event winds to a close.

Get Out of the Office
It’s hard to be festive in a conference room everyone sits in a few times a week to discuss work. If the budget allows, take the party offsite to put people in a relaxed, festive mood. If the budget does not allow you to rent a space, make sure to decorate the room and remove “everyday” reminders of work.

Buy the Food
Nothing says “cheap” like a potluck office party. That’s not to say you can’t host a potluck at the end of the year, but keep the official holiday party a company-sponsored event. There are many ways to save on food and beverages. Buffets are often cheaper than sit-down dinners, and finger foods can be used in place of meals. You may also be able to trade services if you work with a company that provides catering. If you can, make sure people don’t have to bring their own food or beverages.

Keep it Inclusive
You most likely employ people of all faiths and denominations and people who have special dietary restrictions. That means it’s very easy to offend someone and/or make someone feel left out. Do your best to offer a wide variety of food and beverage options. It can be useful to ask for HR’s help in collecting recommendations on the menu, noting special attention to people with special needs. Make sure the party is nondenominational, as well.

Show Appreciation
The holiday party can be an ideal time to distribute year-end bonus checks, hand out awards, and recognize employees for their hard work and commitment throughout the year. Plan time for company leaders to stand up and say “thank you” for a job well done.