We are all different people depending on time and place. At work, we wear business casual outfits and try to keep the four-letter words to a minimum (unless you work in news media, in which case all bets are off). At home ,we dress way more casually, and we also talk more casually. We may not even realize it, but we’re definitely considering our audience. We want to project an image of semi-professionalism at work, but at home we don’t care as much. Our family members know our more relaxed selves, and they (hopefully) love us anyway.
So if you’re planning on throwing a party, the location of the party matters. You’re going to hold a way different party in a church basement than you would in your backyard. The people you’re inviting also matter. If they’re from work, you may feel like you have to be more “on” than you would if you were inviting friends and family members. There are also some party activities that are OK to do with friends, but might not be OK to do around co-workers.
The dress code matters
For instance, say you just bought a sparkling new hot tub. It soothes your muscles and relaxes your mind, and you’re thinking of inviting some people from the office over to check it out. It’s a stressful time of year for your company, and you figure they could use the break. That’s a generous impulse, but tap the brakes a bit before you create a Facebook event. Will some of your co-workers feel uncomfortable about the idea of wearing swimsuits around people from the office? Will you feel uncomfortable with that? If you say, “bring a swimsuit,” that means Jeff from Accounting might show up in a Speedo. Will you be able to look him in the eye on Monday after that?
If there’s a decent chance such a party will create awkwardness at the office next week, it’s best to keep the hot tub to yourself for now. Think of what else is going on in your area that would merit a party. If you’re in Northern Ohio, it’s a pretty exciting time for sports, so maybe you want to rent some equipment for a sports-themed Cleveland party. Basketball season is starting up, and everyone from Randall to Parma is excited about the trades the Cavaliers made in the off-season. Hey, even the Browns are showing some signs of life. You can play a fun basketball shootout game in your backyard while you talk about how well Isaiah Thomas will fit into the Cavs’ offense. Nobody has to wear a swimsuit to do that.
The alcohol question
Different offices will also have different expectations for alcohol. Some bosses won’t mind if you head to a restaurant and have a beer with your lunch, but others definitely will. It’s all about culture, so consider that before serving your co-workers vodka shots. Even if your boss isn’t there, word of what happened at your party could still get back to them. It’s probably best to stick with beer and wine rather than treating your office party like a college bash.
If you live in a more conservative part of the country, you may not want to serve alcohol at all. There are still dry counties in parts of the South, hard as it may be to believe. If you work in a community like that, it might be best to just avoid the booze entirely. Yes, you’re an adult, and you shouldn’t have to do that, but sometimes it’s better to just keep the alcohol in your fridge and drink it on your couch. Remember that regardless of what happens at the party, you’re still going to have to go to work on Monday, You don’t want to get called into your supervisor’s office and be asked to explain that Instagram photo where you’re doing a keg stand.