A celebratory atmosphere and plenty of "thank yous" characterize all effective employee appreciation parties. The best parties last for no more than two hours and give employees plenty of options for activities -- you want to show appreciation, not coerce employees into activities they don't want to do. You can never go wrong with monetary gifts if your business can afford them; nonprofit organizations can increase the party budget by getting donations from local businesses.
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Simple but colorful and sparkling decorations let you show appreciation while allowing you to spend more of your budget on the employees themselves. "Thank you!" signs and banners placed all over the walls and tables of the party space let employees know what the party is all about. Vary the signs to say "Good Job!" "Job Well Done!" and "You're the Best!"
Food for All
Whether you cater party food in a space in your office or hold the party in a restaurant or meeting hall, provide options that will satisfy all appetites, including employees who are vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free. Pizzas of various sorts give people options, as do an assortment of appetizers. Include traditional foods, such as hot dogs and hamburgers at an appreciation picnic, as well as foods for the more adventurous employees, such as sushi or satay.
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Thank-you speeches are a must at an appreciation party, but keep them brief. Focus on activities that employees can sample throughout the party, such as picture-taking with silly props, board games or simple craft projects. Conduct an on-going raffle throughout the party and give away pens or T-shirts from the company store, coupons for extra-long lunch breaks and special parking spots or small gift baskets. Ensure that all employees receive a gift and allow some time for trading after the raffle is over.
Appreciation gifts can be as simple as certificates of appreciation made in-house or simple pots of seasonal flowers. If your company can afford them, employees appreciate more elaborate gifts. Conduct a raffle with a variety of different more-expensive prizes or give each employee an appreciation gift. The gift needs to be something any employee will enjoy, such as a gift card to a local grocery store or coffee shop or movie tickets.
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If your appreciation party falls near the start of a seasonal change or near to a holiday, a seasonal activity brings a ready-made festive note to the party. For an October party, carve pumpkins or create autumn dried flower arrangements. In December, make holiday ornaments or evergreen wreaths -- but be mindful of employee's differing religious beliefs. In March or April, plant spring bulb baskets in front of the office.
Susan Lundman began writing about her love of cooking, ingredient choices, menu planning and healthy eating after working for 20 years on children's issues at a nonprofit organization. She has written about food online professionally for ten years on numerous websites, and has provided family and friends with homemade recipes and stories about culinary adventures. Lundman received her M.A. from Stanford University.