How to Handle Holiday Parties at a Small Business

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Whether your company had a good year or a bad one, the holiday season is here, and your employees are probably looking forward to a little mistletoe and end-of-year joy. Unfortunately, if your budget is tight, a big holiday celebration is out of the question -- but that doesn't mean you have to act like Mr. Scrooge. Take a look at some expert suggestions for celebrating the holidays in style without breaking the bank.

1. Use the space you're given -- think atriums, foyers, etc.

If your office has a foyer or an atrium, it might just be the perfect spot for your celebration, says Morag Barrett, CEO of SkyeTeam, an international HR and leadership development firm.

"I once went to a party in a large office building with a stunning foyer and atrium. The staff came down from their offices and met there, bringing festive decorations, helium balloons and music," Barrett says. "The company provided appetizers and refreshments."

In an atrium, a festive atmosphere is created very quickly and without the need to go offsite to a restaurant or hotel conference room, Barrett explains.

One of the best ways to make the office "feel special" is to bring in festive tables and decor for the party, says Jennifer Friedman, chief marketing officer of small business solutions at CT Corp. and its subsidiary BizFilings.

"Make the office feel special by bringing in high-top tables and linens, encouraging everyone to mingle while eating instead of retreating back to their cubes," Friedman says.

2. It doesn't have to be at night -- lunch or brunch will work just fine.

"Lunch is certainly an option instead of a lengthy -- and likely more expensive -- dinner," Barrett says.

A holiday brunch allows for everyone to come in after rush-hour traffic, with festivities wrapping up by early afternoon -- at which point people can go home early, she says.

"It's a win-win for everyone. You get a lower-cost holiday party, plenty of festive spirit and an afternoon away from work to spend with family or finish your holiday shopping," she says.

Also, lunches typically encourage greater employee participation, says Robert Hosking, executive director at staffing firm OfficeTeam.

"It may be easier for some employees to make it out to lunch, versus an after-work affair where people might already have lots of holiday obligations," Hosking says, adding that breakfasts can also be a fun way to start the day.

No matter whether you opt for lunch, brunch or dinner, Friedman says that the food will always be less expensive than heavier dinner items, and the alcohol "won't be missed, particularly if your staff plans to return to work afterward."

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