Should We Cancel Our Annual Holiday Party Again This Year?

Last Updated on December 8, 2021 / COVID-19, Employee Relations

HR Question:

It’s that time of year again… holiday parties and gift exchanges are on the horizon, but COVID-19 continues to be a challenge. Should we cancel our annual holiday party again this year?

HR Answer:

Ultimately, that’s your decision. Some companies are forgoing an in-person holiday party again this year, while others feel like it’s safe enough to celebrate in person. Unfortunately, COVID cases and hospitalizations due to the virus are rising again in many places across the country. Also, the CDC continues to recommend that anyone who isn’t fully vaccinated, as well as fully vaccinated people in areas with substantial to high transmission, wear masks in public indoor spaces.

If you decide to host a party this year, here are some measures you may want to consider:

  • Look for outdoor spaces or well-ventilated indoor venues with enough room for people to spread out.
  • Require employees to be vaccinated or tested before attending the party. Pay for testing if you require it.
  • Require anyone who is under the weather (for any reason) to stay home. If there are raffles or gifts at the party, ensure those who stay home for their own safety or the safety of others are included.
  • Make sure employees know that the holiday party is completely voluntary. No work or company business should be conducted during this time. Employees who are uncomfortable attending should not be pressured in any way to attend.
  • Host a virtual party instead or as an alternative for those who can’t or don’t want to attend in person. You could provide gift cards to local eateries or food delivery services, organize a home decorating or ugly sweater contest, and facilitate interactive games.

You can read the CDC’s guidance on holiday celebrations here.

Special thanks to the HR Support Center for providing this edition of our HR Question of the Week!

For further COVID-19-related resources, check out our COVID-19 Employer Resources page or contact us for direct assistance.