Do you feel it?
It's that slight motion that may signal we're turning the corner. More companies are beginning to offer perks again at work, like -- gasp -- bonuses. The office holiday party this year may actually be more than cold pizza with a side order of greasy chicken wings.
Maybe you're feeling a bit more optimistic, as well. You and your co-workers have survived some pretty tough times, and you'd like to offer some cheer as the holiday season approaches by opening up your home.
But before you uncork that first bottle of wine or pop the cheese puffs in the oven, let's go over some rules about entertaining business associates in your home. It won't take long -- but save you a lot of embarrassment and perhaps save your career, as well.
1. Get organized. Co-workers have looooong memories. Remember how they still talk about the copy machine repair guy who kept calling your boss "Bob" even though his name was "Jim"? And that was five years ago? Do you honestly think they'll let you live down a disorganized party that you throw together? Not in this lifetime.
2. Send invitations. Don't send just e-vites that might be missed or end up in "junk" mail. Send out formal invitations that give clear directions to your house and provide a dress code.
3. Ask friends. Putting together a different mix of people can provide a more interesting atmosphere, and give your guests something to talk about other than work. Invite buddies who will also provide good morale support, and can be depended upon not to embarrass you with stories that put you in a less-than-positive light.
4. Clean up. Don't worry about how business associates may judge your decor. It's a chance for them to relax and get to know you better, but you also need to make sure the bathrooms are clean, and there's a clear space to store coats or personal items.
5. Not everyone loves pets. I know, I know. How can that be? But honestly, your yappy Maltese, your shedding Persian kitty and your slobbering St. Bernard aren't so precious to others, who would prefer not to be jumped on, drooled on and shed on all night long. Do your furry friends and your guests a favor, and find a safe and comfortable place to put them away from the guests while you entertain.
6. Don't overfuss. Most people enjoy sitting around a kitchen table eating simple, casual food. If you're going to have more sophisticated fare, consider having a caterer. Your job is to be mingling with your associates, getting to know one another better. Fussing in the kitchen misses the point of the gathering.
7. Watch the bar. It's a good idea to recruit a friend or family member to watch alcohol consumption. If you think someone has had too much to drink, call a cab or drive the person home. Remove alcohol as the evening winds to a close and start offering plenty of non-alcoholic beverages. The last thing you want is for a co-worker to be embarrassed -- or gossiped about -- because he or she got drunk.
If you entertain business associates, what are some of your tips?