Holiday season is around the corner, and if you’re a company owner or manager of the HR department, you are likely planning your holiday party in earnest (or planning to plan it, anyway).

One refrain I keep hearing over and over again from people inquiring about NYC holiday party entertainment is, “how can we make things better than last year?” You can define “better” any way you want: a more fun activity, more staff enthusiasm, better attendance, better hors d’eovers. What I think people are really getting at, though, is this: how to we make our holiday party more meaningful?

The company holiday party shouldn’t be done just for the sake of doing; rather, it’s an opportunity to demonstrate just how much you value and appreciate your hard-working employees. How the company goes about doing that says a lot.

Here are 5 simple ways you can make your office holiday party more significant and impactful among your staff:

1.         Make it About the People, Not the Event – Whenever possible, keep the focus squarely on the attendees. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with having fun activities, set the tone from the start that this event is about the staff, and about recognizing & rewarding their efforts over the past year.

2.         Hire a Photographer – Doing this accomplishes two things: first, it sends a clear message to staff that this isn’t just some boozy party, that management takes the event seriously (have you ever seen a serious event without a photographer?) and second, it will provide people with real, tangible mementos to remember the event with in the form of photographs, including who they were with and (hopefully) how good they felt.

3.         Put a Lot of Thought into the Details – People notice the small things, and if you put forth the effort to add as much customizable detail into your event as possible – be it the décor, the food, the entertainment or the trimmings – people will remember your event, and remember it fondly.

4.         Give a Ridiculously Amazing Speech – The office holiday party isn’t a time for an ad-libbed toast to staff; rather, the senior person there should give a well-prepared, thoughtful and deeply affective speech, clearly demonstrating his/her equally deep appreciation and respect for employees.

5.         Recognize, Acknowledge, and Highlight Mercilessly – If nothing else, the annual holiday party is a perfect opportunity to let your hard-working staff shine. At every chance possible, you should be thanking, congratulating, applauding and rewarding their efforts, in as public a way as possible.

The annual office party shouldn’t be just about going through the motions, blowing off some steam and drinking to excess. Make your event more meaningful, memorable and impactful, and your staff will reward you with improved morale, loyalty and a happier workplace.