Business Office Parties and Gifts Ideas and Tips

In a company of any size there are times when the employees of a department or division decide a party for one of their group is in order. The usual excuses for these pleasant interludes are when a fellow worker becomes engaged or is married, leaves to have a baby, enters the service, or resigns, retires or is transferred. Luncheon parties are favoured, principally because it is easier to get the whole group together then than after work.

Organizing the party. Generally, approval of the department head is sought before plans are made, because the lunch hour will usually run beyond the allotted time. Even though his approval is taken for granted, the courtesy of requesting permission must not be over looked. After it is received, a committee should be appointed to work out the arrangements. A small committee of two or three is best for an affair of this kind; larger committees tend to become unwieldy. If need be, the committee can always delegate other members of the staff to perform certain tasks.

Remember that while party planning is rarely frowned upon by executives, employees should not take advantage of this and neglect their jobs while working out the details. Taking a few minutes of your working day to tell someone he’s to plan transportation is acceptable, but spending a couple of hours working out the details is not. Your work comes first, and party plans should be made during lunch hours or after work.

Making reservations. To facilitate matters, make a reservation at a nearby restaurant for the number planning to attend. If the restaurant agrees, a great deal of time can be saved by circulating the menu ahead of time, having each individual write down his order, and then telephoning the order to the restaurant. In this way, lunch is ready to be served as soon as the group arrives. Orders for drinks can be handled in the same way, which eliminates the usual delay of ordering them and waiting for the order to be filled.

Whom to invite. Everyone in the guest of honor’s department should be invited to attend. It is polite also to invite department heads and other supervisory personnel who may have worked with the employee who is being feted. However, there is nothing compulsory about attending these affairs. No one should be made to feel he has to be present or that a refusal to attend is unfriendly.

Paying the expenses. When ordering is done ahead of time, the committee on arrangements should collect the cost of each lunch, plus enough to cover gratuities to the waiters, the cost of a gift (if there is to be one), and the guest of honor’s lunch.

If it is impossible to order lunch in advance and collect for it, then everyone at the luncheon should have an individual check. This pre vents haggling over the bill and saves time. Either of the people next to the guest of honor should be delegated to pick up his or her check and pay for it. The cost can be pro-rated afterwards among those attending the luncheon.

Seating the guest of honor at an office party. Place the honored guest at the centre or head of the table. If the group is large enough, have the restaurant set up a T-shape table and the crossbar of the T can be the head table. Place cards may be used in seating the others or they may choose their own seats.

How the guest of honor behaves. Gracious acceptance of the thoughtfulness of his co-workers should mark the behaviour of the honored guest. It is distressing to see people with so little poise or sense of gratitude that they act bored or as though the whole idea were silly. Just before the party breaks up the guest of honour should stand and briefly but sincerely express his thanks to his co-workers.

Buying presents. Constant requests for money with which to buy gifts can be a nuisance to employees, as well as a budgetary strain. There have been instances where people have thought the number of collections had got so completely out of hand that they refused to contribute to anything. On occasion management sees fit to refuse permission for a gift collection.

To begin with, a gift is not always necessary. The type of luncheon party described above, which everyone underwrites, can be given in place of a gift. A gift isn’t called for when an engagement is announced, an employee resigns or a temporary employee (no matter how well liked) finishes her job and leaves.

Collecting for a gift. When gifts are collected for individually and two occasions come up at once, the best thing to do is take up one collection and divide the amount in two.

A revolving gift fund is another method of keeping collections under control. With this system everyone in an office pays a small amount (as little as five cents) either weekly or on pay days. Then when a gift is to be bought, the money for it comes out of this fund.

One thing that should never be done is to purchase a gift and then raise the amount it cost. Collect the money first and then buy what you can afford with the sum collected.

How much to spend for a gift. Length of service affects the size and cost of gifts in most offices. On the average, however, $200-250 is spent for a retirement gift; $100-150 for a wedding gift; $100 for flowers; $50 for a baby present. From $35 to $50 is spent for a corsage, a memento frequently given to a girl who has received a promotion.

Presenting the gift. At a luncheon, the gift may be put on the table at the guest of honor’s place, or someone can make the presentation during the luncheon, whichever seems better suited to the occasion. If presentation of the gift is made in the office, place it on the recipient’s desk before he arrives in the morning or while he is out to lunch, so that it will be a surprise.

The card that goes with the gift. A small plain white card signed “Your fellow employees,” “Your friends at the office” or something similar may be enclosed with a gift. Or a commercial card may be purchased and circulated for everyone to sign before being attached to the gift. When flowers are ordered, the florist will sign the card the way you ask him to.

Expressing thanks for a gift from co-workers. The individual receiving the gift is expected to show it around the office. A note of thanks is proper. Although a man’s co-workers present their wedding gift to him rather than sending it to the bride-to-be, she is the one who must write the note of thanks. If the gift is from all the employees (as would be the case in a small firm) address a note to the company. When it is given by the staff of a department or division of a large company, address a “thank you” note to the head of the department, who will either circulate t or put it on the bulletin board.

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