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Q: Office Holiday Party Invitation Etiquette ( Answered,   6 Comments )
Subject: Office Holiday Party Invitation Etiquette
Category: Business and Money > Small Businesses
Asked by: sflady-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 30 Oct 2006 13:53 PST
Expires: 29 Nov 2006 13:53 PST
Question ID: 778560
Are there guidelines on who should be invited to an office holiday party?  

More specifically:
Is it ok for invitations to be solely for spouses/significant others
and not allow single people to bring a guest that they do not have a
sexual relationship with?
Subject: Re: Office Holiday Party Invitation Etiquette
Answered By: nenna-ga on 30 Oct 2006 14:13 PST
Hello sflady-ga

From what I have seen and read, there are 3 types of office parties.

1 type is for employees only. 

The second is for employees and a guest. Just that. Mr. Smith and
Guest. It?s not polite to determine what type of guest they bring.

The third is for family. This includes your spouse/date and your children.

I think it?s in bad taste to only allow your guests to bring someone
they?re ?intimate? with as you suggest here. ??not allow single people
to bring a guest that they do not have a sexual relationship with?

I saw this because what happens if the hypothetical secretary Ms. Doe
is dating a guy but is celibate until marriage? He may be her date,
but they?re not having a sexual relationship.

What if someone wants to bring their best girlfriend since 3rd grade
(who is married to another man) with him, because he feels awkward
being one of the few people there without a date because he?s not
married nor does he have a significant other. Should he be denied
companionship just because they don?t have sex?

From Office Party Etiquette by Linda Ramsey

?5. Is my family invited?

Not unless it says so on the invitation. Take your children only if
the invitation reads "and family". Otherwise leave them at home with
the babysitter. Unless your spouse is mentioned or the envelope is
addressed to you ?and guest? you and only you should show up.?

This right there states there are 3 kinds of office parties.
Family Parties  - We would like to invite Mr. Smith and Family/Guest
Adult Parties Only ? We would like to invite Mr. Smith and Guest
Employee Only ? We would like to invite Mr. Smith

?Do be sure you know exactly who is invited to the party. Spouses or
significant others are not always on the guest list for office
parties.? This also implies 2 of the types, Employee Only and Employee
and Guest. Guest is a generic invitation term for ?bring another adult
whom you care about with you?.

?5. Going solo
Just because you don't want to go out alone, don't take it upon
yourself to invite a guest unless it specifically says on the
invitation that guests are welcome. No matter how successful the firm,
there is a budget to consider. Plus, you don't want to put your guest
in the uncomfortable position of being the only non-employee there.
And always, always, always double-check to make sure that it is a
family gathering before you bring your children.?

This also shows the 3 types of parties.

Also, you may want to be careful of discrimination. If you invite all
the married people to bring their significant other, but not the
unmarried people, that?s discrimination and someone is bound to be

If you invite those in LTR (Long Term Relationships) and Married
people to bring a date, but not ?single? people, that?s also
discrimination and someone is bound to be offended.

So, in closing, let your office party budget be your guide. 

Can you afford just employees?

Can you afford employees and ?guest?. (2x the number of employees roughly)

Can you afford everyone and their family? 

Just don?t specify who the guest or family MUST be. 

Google Searches:
Office party invitation etiquette

If this answer requires further explanation, please request
clarification before rating it, and I'll be happy to look into this

Google Answers Researcher
Subject: Re: Office Holiday Party Invitation Etiquette
From: pafalafa-ga on 30 Oct 2006 14:36 PST
On the other hand, I'd be very curious to see the wording of the
"sexual relations only" invitations.
Subject: Re: Office Holiday Party Invitation Etiquette
From: steph53-ga on 30 Oct 2006 14:40 PST
Thats too funny!!!

Subject: Re: Office Holiday Party Invitation Etiquette
From: pinkfreud-ga on 30 Oct 2006 14:53 PST
The "sexual relations" clause might lead to massive fraud, in which
folks who are really just casual acquaintainces create fake "evidence"
to prove that they are doin' the dirty. It's really easy to use
Photoshop to paste your head on someone else's body. Be suspicious if
the bodies look like Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson, but the faces look
like Sam Schmo from Accounting and his friend Marlene.
Subject: Re: Office Holiday Party Invitation Etiquette
From: nelson-ga on 30 Oct 2006 15:39 PST
sflady-ga, you should not drink or toke before posting questions (or
sending party invitations).  Doing so leads to silliness like
suggesting that people have to pass a sex test to attend your office
Subject: Re: Office Holiday Party Invitation Etiquette
From: myoarin-ga on 30 Oct 2006 15:41 PST
Hi SF Lady,

I have been on the organizing side of many company parties.  Nenna-ga
has answered your question very well, as asked.
From my experience, the major consideration about whether or not to
invite spouses and the like was one of what the party was intended to
achieve  - almost regardless of the occasion.
If it is a young company and it is intend that the staff get to know
each other informally, have interaction with people in other areas, we
decided that it was better not to invite non-employees.  Then the
employees talk to each other, about the business, about their
individual work, etc.  - networking.
If spouses and dates are invited, the employees stick closer to their
immediate colleagues to introduce the spouse/date to colleagues s/he
has heard mentioned and vice versa.  Most people don't want to spend
the whole party introducing themselves and their companion to
colleagues they don't know so well, or explaining their relationship
to the boss when he comes around and has to be introduced.

A party with guests can have its place, however, when the occasion is
one at which the company/management specifically wants to be host
them: maybe to introduce itself as the employer (usually as a
successful one); when staff members are being awarded, and their
significant others should be there.

In my opinion, it is not so much a question of etiquette but rather of
what kind of a party you want it to be.

Cheers, Myoarin
Subject: Re: Office Holiday Party Invitation Etiquette
From: frde-ga on 31 Oct 2006 02:34 PST
Sometimes it is useful to eyeball the sig others of people at work.

It helps one to feel sympathetic and explains what would otherwise
look like erratic behaviour.

As for bringing a non-sexual partner, Lord John Brown of BP used to
take his mother to functions ...

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