Christmas is a stressful time, especially for the poor sap(s) that drew the short straw on organizing the office Christmas party. For example, I go to these just to put in face-time with the higher-ups and I suspect many people’s motivations are similar. But this year the party planning has falling into my (in)capable hands. I know booze gets butts in seats—but this year I want to up the ante from standing around getting buzzed in the same place I already spend 30% of my life.
Bingo has been gaining popularity the last few years due in large to the rise of online bingo. I mean, my grandmothers do it and for the last 5 years they have been pretty reliable bellwethers of taste (see: knitting, records, fondue, horrible sweaters, large glasses, etc.). I hope this is the case anyway; my party is going to be a Bingo Charity Ball.
When: The rule is that no office party should take place after the first two weeks of December. It’s like wearing white after Labor Day— just don’t do it.
Where: Most trouble comes when office parties can be argued to be ‘work-related’. You can limit this by having the party NOT AT THE OFFICE. Church halls, banquet halls, or even warehouses will rent out their space for this sort of thing. If you approach them from the charity angle you will likely get a discount.
Nuts/Bolts: Have books of bingo cards and stampers for sale. This is the buy in for the Bingo game and are typically around the $70 mark (come on it’s for charity!). Bingo accoutrement can be purchase or rented from party supply stores and the like—I’m talking raffle tickets, bingo cards, stampers, balls, those rolling cages you put the balls in etc.
Bingo Law: Here’s where it gets a bit (seriously) tricky since you are essentially running gambling. Laws differ state to state, so make sure to check with your local authorities. Though on whole, there seem to be statutes governing purchase of a bingo licence, certifying bingo cards and equipment, winnings, age of participants and reporting takings to the state. Most states will allow you to recoup the cost of the event out of the night’s takings, but again this isn’t uniform and I can’t stress enough to check with your local authorities.
Alcohol: There is probably going to be a lot of xmas cheer, but remember this probably exposes the office to some liability. Many states have rules on the books that make bars and clubs partially responsible for accidents or other horrible things that happen as a result of a patron’s intoximacatedness. This principle can apply the office as well. Check with your state. Also, the office gets in trouble if any minors get caught (by the relevant authorities) drinking. Last, but not least, watch out for drunken sexual harassment as the office is most likely on the hook for that too. Usually you can task HR with playing referee at these parties, but if you aren’t lucky enough to have HR, this job will likely be allocated to you, dear party planner. Otherwise, bartenders are trained to keep an eye on drinkers’ drunkenness—hire one
Also, if party attendance is mandatory it’s almost definitely work related, meaning the office is almost definitely liable—so make sure everyone know it’s not. And make sure you have a way to convey everyone safely home.