Corporate Christmas parties are a great way to boost staff morale, get the entire team together, and say thank you for all their hard work.
If you’re planning on hosting a Christmas party for your workplace, whether it’s a small gathering at the office or a decked-out party in a function room, there are a few things you should consider to make sure the celebrations are accessible to all your guests.
Accessibility isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation
When planning your event, it’s important to consider who your guests are and whether the event can be enjoyed by everyone. Event accessibility is about more than just wheelchair ramps. If you want to plan an event that’s truly accessible to all your staff and guests, you might need to consider other modifications. A good place to start is by involving people with disability in the event planning process.
We’ve put together some practical tips and ideas to get your party planning underway and accessible to everyone.
Choose your venue
Choosing a venue is likely to be one of the first and most important things you do. Whether you hold the party at your office or at an external venue, everyone should be able to relax and enjoy the event without worrying about access. Here are a few things to double-check when it comes to access at your event.
1. Is there accessible parking available?
There should preferably be parking on-site and close by for people with mobility impairments. The route from the carpark to the entrance should be accessible and clear of any obstructions. It’s good practice to check out the venue beforehand to make sure there is a kerb ramp that allows people using a wheelchair to get from the road to the entrance.
2. Is there public transport close by?
Everyone at your party should be able to get there and home safety, and for many people that might involve public transport. Google Maps’ wheelchair accessibility routes are a great place to start. They can point you in the direction of what accessible public transport routes are nearby for people with mobility impairments.
3. Are there lifts/ramps/entrances wide enough to access the venue?
Here are some things you should consider when inspecting the venue entrances and lifts:
- If the venue contains stairs, is there an alternate route (such as ramps or lifts) available for people with mobility impairments?
- Are the lifts and entrances large enough for wheelchair access?
- Are the lift buttons accessible for people using a wheelchair or of short-stature?
- Do the lifts use audio information to announce what floor it is arriving at?
- Are the lift buttons raised? Do they incorporate braille?
4. Are there accessible bathrooms?
Check that the venue has functioning bathrooms that are clear of clutter and easily accessed. The space should be large enough for someone in a wheelchair to turn around and close the door.
5. What guide dog considerations does the venue offer?
If you have a guest with a guide dog, their dog must also be comfortable at the venue. There should be space close by that can be used for toileting, and access to water.
Stand-up or sit-down?
There’s no one superior answer to the “stand-up or sit-down party?” question. This will ultimately depend on your guest list, venue, budget, and time requirements. Whichever direction you choose to take, there are some universal questions you should consider when designing the room.
Firstly, the venue should be spacious enough that people with disability can move around freely, even when it is packed full of people, chairs, and tables. If you choose a sit-down format, there should be enough space between tables for wheelchair access and people who need support workers and guides. Wheelchairs should be able to fit easily under tables.
If you decide to host a stand-up party, consider scattering chairs around the room. By placing chairs in groups, no one will feel segregated from the party for needing to sit-down, and guests can easily converse with people using a wheelchair. Table heights for refreshments and buffets should be accessible to people using a wheelchair and people of short-stature.
Food and drink
Catering at corporate parties can range from casual nibbles to extravagant buffets and entire three-course–sit-down banquets. The party should provide a number of dietary and cutlery options so everyone can choose a selection they feel most comfortable with. If your party has a buffet, consider offering finger food with mouth-sized pieces so people don’t need to hold a plate or cutlery.
Presentations are a great way to reflect on the year behind and some of the amazing things that were achieved. If you choose to show videos in your presentation, ensure that they are captioned so everyone can enjoy them. Consider providing options for people with hearing or vision impairments to sit close to the presentation. If you have any speaking notes or special accommodations, let your speakers know beforehand.
Team building activities are a great way to encourage your team to relax and blow off some steam. If you choose to get active for your Christmas party, make sure it’s an activity that everyone can participate in. This will ultimately depend on your guest list, and you should know who is attending before you decide on an activity. Some classics include trivia, barefoot bowls, scavenger hunt, and karaoke.
Everyone has a role to play in ensuring inclusion, understanding, and accessibility. No matter what your Christmas party is, the most important thing is that everyone has a fantastic time and feels included.
The information above is by no means an exhaustive accessibility list. Always ask every event attendee their accessibility requirements and never assume.