Planning a Holiday Party for a Diverse Team

The holidays are a time for celebration and the last thing any of us want to do is create a situation where someone doesn’t feel celebrated or appreciated.

Yes, different cultures, backgrounds, beliefs, and even dietary restrictions add complexity to planning a gathering that appeals to everyone, but it’s worth the effort to deliver a great experience and show your employees that you care.

The good news is, it’s not hard, just keep the focus on the festive! Here a few helpful tips:

Think Theme

When it comes to your party theme, stick with words like “holiday,” “seasonal,” or “end of year celebration,” to avoid feelings of exclusion.

Decide on Décor

Again, think “holiday” and “seasonal.” Lights, flowers, candles, balloons, and glittery, sparkly items immediately create a party vibe without speaking to specific customs or beliefs.

Focus on Presence Over Presents

Remember that the goal of the gathering is to have employees mix, mingle, and get to know one another in a less formal setting. If you absolutely can’t party without presents, set a few guidelines like a price limit—and be sure to make it optional!

Be Sensitive to Sensitivities

From Paleo to peanut allergies there are a wide range of dietary lifestyles and restrictions. A potluck event makes a good option for a company party because it allows those people with specific needs or requests to bring a dish they can enjoy.

If it’s a catered event, check with your caterer—they do this literally all the time and often have great suggestions to help you plan for everyone’s needs.

Limit Libations

Almost every post-party water cooler gossip begins with, “after a couple of drinks they.…” Nothing can crash a party (or a career) faster than an “overserved” guest. Forgo the free bar in favor of a cash bar or, better yet, a drink ticket for one adult beverage. You should also make sure to offer plenty of non-alcoholic options for your guests who choose not to imbibe for personal or religious reasons.

We know that drink limits are probably wishful thinking, so if you serve alcohol it’s always a good idea to offer free rideshares to and from the event.


Cardigan is an employer branding and internal communication consultancy that helps companies get the most from their people and culture.