Dos and don’ts at staff end year parties

Monday, December 16th, 2019 16:26 |

 By Samson Osero

Employees in many organisations are whetting their appetite for food, drinks and dance at year-end parties which are meant to close 2019 with a bang. Prior arrangements for items such as a suitable venue; classic menu; a distinguished chief guest and humorous MC have been finalised. Invitation cards that don fancy graphics with a catchy theme for the occasion and suggestion on dress code are already out. 

Organisers are restless on last- minute details and fine tuning to ensure that all goes according to plan on the material date. Some staff members are already planning how they shall informally relate with co-workers at the function without usual officialdom limits. Here are the dos and don’ts that employees should keep in mind to enjoy the fun-packed parties. 


Although the invitation card spells out the dress code, more often than not some people show up with attires that leave the rest with unanswered question. They are either under-dressed or over-dressed making the event seem like a crowd taking an unplanned evening meal at a restaurant after a day’s hard work.

Men are expected to make choices on the colour of neck tie, if it’s not specified. They can wear a smart suit but not a tuxedo which is sometimes reserved for weddings. A cool blazer with a well ironed shirt would be appropriate to distinguish one’s appearance from the office one.   

Women will consider items such as style of hairdo, complexion-matching lipstick, classy perfume, size of neck line, type of neck chain, length of skirt and shoe heels. If the dress code is traditional wear, they may choose materials and designs that portray them as proud of being Kenyans. 


Some people at the parties are at ease talking with co-workers who belong to the same department/section, clique, community or cadre. Instead of joining such groupings, utilise the opportunity to converse with others and expand your network within the organisation.

Emotion-packed discussions on politics, soccer, sports or religion should be replaced with light topics like weather, celebrities, music, money or technology. People need to feel free to change topics not to spoil an evening intended to be stress free. 


The party may begin with a cocktail as the staff await foods. People have embarrassed themselves for not holding the wine glass on the left hand to allow the right one for handshakes and gestures. Party novices have drunk too much wine forgetting that real drinks are a few minutes away. Those who may have skipped the day’s lunch eat the bites as if they were the first and main meal. 

To avoid becoming a laughingstock at the party and thereafter, it is advisable to exercise moderation. Packing leftover foods as takeaway can be embarrassing especially if co-workers hold you in high esteem.

Overdrinking on grounds of available free drinks and fantasy to bid the year farewell can be tragic if it ends in violent incidences. Becoming courageous under the influence of alcohol to tell off one’s bosses could cause trouble when perceived as disrespect.       


Speeches, particularly the one from the chief executive, are eagerly awaited in case of policy pronouncements such as the salary increases in the following year. Brief and out-of-the-curve speeches spiced with humour usually attract more attention compared to long-winded written speeches that ignore audience expectations.

Staff members who are not keen on spoken speeches may miss out words of wisdom or shared life lessons that can make a difference in the workplace. They can impulsively find themselves clapping or laughing without an inkling of what was said. 


Some organisations use the occasion to bestow awards to employees who have excelled in key aspects of business operations. The Employee of the Year award is coveted especially when the trophy is accompanied with monetary appreciation. Those that hoped to get awards may be disappointed but so long as a fair process was used to determine the winner, they should continue working hard for the next ones. 

Employees wait eagerly for the declaration of gift vouchers to facilitate the nearing Christmas purchases. Some would forgo the expensive dinner in preference for cash particularly in hard economic times. 

The writer is a human resource consultant and author of Transition into Retirement

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