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Shotgun (not) planning the year-end function – Tips and tricks for a job nobody really wants

Nov 18, 2019, Author: Carly Ritz

The truth is, it is a lot of pressure being the person who has been tasked with planning and budgeting for the annual company year-end or festive season function. There can be high hopes and expectations. People work hard all year and feel like they deserve to be treated and spoiled just ahead of the December break. The HR manager wants to get drunk and forget their name and the interns want to eat at Marble Restaurant. You will never please everyone, but these should work for most. 


Feed and hydrate 

Let’s be honest, as humans with basic needs (and the cost of food and booze in the country), most people just want to eat and drink and share a few laughs. And, it’s always nice when it’s on someone else’s budget. A substantial meal with plenty of booze is the most essential consideration for a good party. The rest is a nice-to-have, really. If you’re looking for food suggestions that will stretch your budget over the table, consider these: 

A table filled with an assortment of pizzas looks good and screams carbs for everyone. Maybe get a few salads so the people that are banting don’t kick up a fuss and pile some pizza’s on top of each for effect. 

A good old braai, with rolls strewn across the table for burgers and boerewors rolls and chips and dips for the empty spots of the table says let’s eat and be merry. 

Some beers and wines in a couple of buckets with ice says let the festivities begin. 

The ego boost 

There are of course those employees who need to feel special. And the truth is that this is a cheap and cheery one to achieve. Whatever you are planning to do for the occasion, adding a short awards ceremony before or after can only add to the festivities. A combo of legitimate awards and some silly ones are known to mix things up and can even be strategic with some employees. 

The Closer, the Move and Shaker or the Rock-Star (aka employee of the year): Let’s be honest, someone always wants to feel like a winner. And if there is a prize that essentially calls one out, people are going to start competing. This could only benefit the team and business in the long run!   

Office Foghorn: A fun way to call out the loudest or noisiest person in the room – it either makes them quieter come the new year or it makes them louder. It’s a risk you should be willing to take. 

The Fashionista: A clever way to point out to people how they should dress for work if you’re saddled with a bunch who like their dungarees and flip-flops, no matter the season. 

Take a vote 

So, it’s unlikely you’ll make everyone happy with the end of year function idea, but there is a guaranteed way to get the majority onboard. Let the people take a vote! Yes, it can be tedious (especially if it’s a big office) but this takes the pressure off. Throw two or three cool (all-round, non-offensive) ideas into a hat and the let the people decide. The more specific the suggestions, the easier to get buy-in. 

The activity suggestion: The team that jumps together stays together. (Did someone say Bounce – again?). This could be anything from ten-pin bowling to team building cooking classes.  

The be entertained suggestion: This needs to be communicated clearly as entertainment can be a slippery slope. We were thinking a cool new comedy show or going as a big group to a new movie everyone wants to see. Old-school is also cool. 


The instead of idea…. 

The truth is that some groups of people who work together really don’t want to socialize together and that is not the end of the world as we know it. It doesn’t mean the office culture sucks – if anything, it means the business respects the larger sentiment and of course allows those who do want to do something social, to do so in their own time. But, it’s still nice to mark another successful year at this time of the year with something like… 

A charitable donation: An up and coming trend is to take the money that would have been spent on the annual year-end function and donate it to a meaningful cause. 

Spread the festivity: Another idea is to take the funds and throw a small party for a children’s or old-age home. Ironically, coming together as a team to bring joy to others is likely to facilitate team bonding more than a beer could ever do – pretty much a slam dunk on all fronts in that case. 

The truth is that no matter what you do, the idea behind a year-end function matters most. It’s an opportunity for people to engage in a relaxed way, get to know the people they work with and improve team spirit and morale. It’s also a way for companies to say: “Hey, thanks guys! We appreciate your daily grind.” 


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