Multicultural and festive: Great office holiday parties
It's easy to create a beautiful party that accommodates various religious or cultural traditions, or a celebration that simply emphasizes the season—and includes everyone effortlessly.
Here are some helpful pointers:
Keep it simple:--Sondra Thiederman, a workplace diversity consultant and author of Making Diversity Work, counsels that trying to accommodate everyone's desires can actually end up causing hurt feelings.
"The more you try to please members of every single group, the greater danger you are in of deeply offending someone left out."
Celebrate the season: "Go for neutrality," Thiederman suggests. Decorate the party venue with colorful, seasonal, non-denominational ornaments, such as balloons, flowers, candles, and snowflakes. White, silver, and light blue decorations, such as the shimmering party supplies shown above, can turn any party venue into a Winter Wonderland—even if it's 85 degrees outside.
Setting a multicultural stage—On the other hand, you can choose to honor everyone's traditions, suggests Patreese Ingram, associate professor of diversity education at Penn State.
One workplace that successfully includes everyone's holiday traditions is Brigham & Women's Hospital, in Boston. The hospital's annual Multicultural Holiday Party has featured decorated tables around the perimeter of the party room. The tables showcase holidays and cultural traditions, such as Chanukah, Christmas, Diwali, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, Las Posadas, Epiphany, St. Nicholas Day, and St. Lucia Day.
Trim a diversity tree—An even easier way to honor everyone's traditions is to have a large diversity tree. Encourage employees to bring holiday symbols from their cultures, or flags from the countries of their heritage. Have everyone hang their decorations on the tree. Or simply create garlands to wrap around the tree.
Other possibilities: Choose a single theme for the tree--e.g., snowflakes, flowers, or colorful tied ribbon bows.