Should I expect that the guys from the shop would change into a clean shirt and slacks before heading off to the company Christmas party?

Or should I just be grateful that they showed up?

Already planning for next year...

timbarcz's picture
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Was there a stated attire? What was the location/nature of the christmas party? Held at a bowling alley vs a country club leads to two different sets of expectations based on environment.

A few years ago I was a manager in a diverse organization and their christmas party were some of the best I've experienced. While I would dress up a bit and put on a tie, others have different sense of what appropriate is. We had several departments from warehouse workers to executives. Some of the women would wear gowns and others would simply come in jeans. It made for an interesting mix of personalities and dress in one place but was made the party special was not that everyone dressed appropriately or to someone's standards but that people had a good time and connected with each other in a very human way.

In my view, you should "just be grateful they showed up" though there's some part of me that wonders if even that is the right attitude on your part.



misysinc's picture

No stated attire, but a fancy restaurant (white linen table cloths) where we have had previous Christmas parties and where most people dressed for the occasion.

jshoults's picture

 next time, in the announcement, whether by email, card or voice, be sure to state "appropriate attire".  

Not everybody will know exactly what this means, but it will get them thinking about it. In this situation, most semi-concientious people will err on the side of caution, upgrading, say, from stained blue jeans and a faded concert t-shirt to unstained blue jeans and whatever collared shirt they wore to the last funeral they attended.

If you can on the day of the party, say you'll let them out 30 minutes early, specifically so they have time to change out of their shop clothes.  



duplicate_account_MarkAus's picture

 What JSHOULTS said.

Dress code is just like location and time - the invitation provides that guidance to people.

And I agree with the first comment - Make sure your attitude isn't manifesting itself in poor behaviour (have you worked on your relationship with the shop guys, for example).  

My view is that the Christmas party is actually about the staff and thanking everyone for their hard work and contribution.  The guests of honour get to dress how they want. 

However, IF you've got a situation where large chunks of your organisation don't want to go to their party then maybe you need to examine the situation and either do something that the majority of the team are happy to do; or figure out why the team doesn't want to be together.   If you can't get close to consensus, then make sure you still recognise them and do something smaller by department - the shop guys might be happy to sit around and talk over free drinks and food at the shop for a couple hours after work, as an example.


jshoults's picture

 what MARKMT said,

except I'd be loathe to let anyone drink at the shop.  alcohol = liability issues.  

these issues exist also, albeit to a lesser degree, at an offsite location such as a bar or restaurant.  I know it seems ridiculous that an employer would be responsible for an employee's irresponsible drinking, or what happens after a company event, but a lawsuit is expensive and distracting, even if you are not in the wrong, or your employee has no common sense.  

It wouldn't hurt to state in the invitation that if they drink, to make sure they have a designated driver or to "drink responsibly".  If you feel like a tyrant or party-pooper stating this in the party/gathering invitation, put it in the employee manual as a company policy of expected behavior at a company event.  

duplicate_account_MarkAus's picture

Yes, JSHoults may be right.   I forgot cultural context here.

I understand that drinking at the work site is not common in North America.  It is more common in the industry and country I'm in - and I was envisoning a small gathering of people who know each other well (say under 10 people) for only an hour or two - which would be less likely to get out of control.

Our corporate party also had a "drink responsibly" type message on the Christmas invite, which I think is just common sense everywhere.