Hosting a Holiday Celebration for a Diverse Team
In today's diverse workplace, people from many different cultural backgrounds work side by side. That also means that employees don't necessarily all belong to the same religion and don't celebrate the same religious holidays. Since it's still customary to celebrate the holidays in December, you might be wondering how to host an office party for your diverse team without making anyone feel left out or worse, offending someone.
Keep it general
First of all, it's important to realize you don't have to face this challenge alone—your team can help you. Get as many people as possible involved in the planning so you can bounce ideas off each other and find creative solutions that work for everyone. This will also help prevent anything being overlooked or forgotten.
Since you're not celebrating a specific religious holiday, it can be helpful to choose a universal theme. Peace or friendship are always good choices, but of course, you can select any theme you like so long as all employees are on board and it doesn't upset anyone.
In addition, remember to keep decorations as general as possible. As Susan Milligan points out in her SHRM article "Celebrating the Holidays and Diversity in the Workplace," religious symbols and scenes can cause offense. Neutral flowers, candles, and plants, on the other hand, are fine. The same goes for music. Avoid Christmas carols, and instead, opt for a playlist with popular hits or some other, non-religious music. Keep food neutral too, but make sure to accommodate any dietary requirements employees may have.
It's also important to figure out ahead of time whether your celebration is for your team only or for their partners and possibly their children as well. The holidays can be a hectic balancing act between work expectations and family responsibilities. So whatever you decide, just be sure to get the word out to everyone who's invited well in advance.
An opportunity to build understanding
If you want to do something special, ask your team if they'd like to share stories about their favorite religious holidays. If you're hosting a themed party, they could explain what the theme means in their culture or religion. It's these kinds of things that promote understanding between different cultures—and by extension help build more tolerant and successful workplaces.
If you keep this advice in mind, organizing and hosting a holiday party for your employees doesn't have to be complicated. And by keeping the emphasis on celebrating your team's diversity, you'll be better prepared to create a warm and welcoming space for everyone.