As we enter the holiday season, some medical practices will see a slowdown, as patients, busy with holiday activities, postpone physician appointments until the New Year. If it´s a busy cold and flu season, primary care offices will be crowded, and staff will be triaging patients out (cold? Don´t bother coming in).
And then there is the holiday party. Personally, I´ve never been a fan of this forced intimacy. But that´s me. If it means a lot to your staff, go ahead. The NFIB — National Federation of Independent Business — has a pretty good list of "don´ts". As a general rule, keeping it on the modest side — not cheap, not high end — is probably a comfortable route for everyone. Why not have some of the staff do much of the planning? Set some parameters, and have the final decision making authority. One is the cost, since you will pick up the entire tab. Where and when is another issue — how much of the day do you want to close? Do you invite
spouses/significant others? Make it a family event? What about liquor?
Liquor is where you do bear some exposure and responsibility. Start by limiting to wine and beer. If a large group, use tickets — limit to 2 drinks, and close the bar in advance of the actual ending time of the party. And read the riot act before the party about excessive drinking.
Personally, I prefer a buffer arrangement and seating that encourages people to mingle, and so no one is the "odd person out." The physicians are the hosts, so split up and talk to you staff. If you feel uncomfortable making this kind of social small talk (and many people are), plan on some neutral topics in advance. Ask more about them and listen, and include the spouse/guest.
The practice holiday party is a gift from you to the staff. Staff should not be asked to pay for it, buy you a gift (I would make it quietly clear not to do it — contribute to a charity instead). Under no circumstances are staff to be coerced, either directly or indirectly, to contribute money, time or food to a party or other "celebration". Want to celebrate your staff birthdays? You buy the cake and punch.
Now — go have fun!