During the holiday season, many organizations use this as an opportunity to have an office holiday party or celebration, showing appreciation for their employees and allowing them an opportunity to relax and enjoy one another’s company. There are a number of pitfalls that managers can run into when throwing any party, but especially during this time of year when so many religious holidays are prevalent it is important to keep a few things in mind when planning your holiday get together:

Party Timing and Themes: Many organizations want to celebrate the holidays with employees by planning a company party. It is important to keep in mind any religious holidays and try to not plan the party on a day that falls on any employee’s religious holiday or on a day in which an employee cannot attend due to religious reasons. Avoid specific religious-based themes to ensure that no one is singled or left out.

Food and Alcoholic Beverages: Ensure that at company-sponsored events, non-alcoholic beverages are served alongside alcoholic ones. Ideally, have alcohol served in a separate “bar” location. Provide foods that match employee’s religious, kosher, halal, vegetarian, and any other dietary needs and restrictions.

Gift Exchanges: Maintain religious neutrality when arranging office gift exchanges. Avoid names such as “Secret Santa” and consider a grab bag-type exchange or select a neutral theme for the gifts.

Office Decorations: Try and find ways to decorate the office that are inclusive of everyone’s beliefs and religions, or opt for décor that is winter-themed versus religious-based such as snowmen, snowflakes, and holly berries versus Santa Claus or the Star of David.

Some of the primary issues you many run into during the holidays pertain to maintaining a level of respect for the beliefs of your coworkers and colleagues. Since so many religious holidays fall during the fall and winter months, it is especially important to maintain an inclusive and inoffensive environment during this season. Continue reading next week in which we will discuss how stay culturally competent and accepting throughout these holiday months.