Think you can deck your office halls with store-bought holly, string mistletoe under the fluorescent lights, sprinkle nutmeg in the coffeemaker, and call it a Christmas fête?
Professional party planners say you might as well give your employees a lump of coal -- or worse, coal with the company logo monogrammed on it.
"It's hard to forget about work and enjoy the festivities when you’re there and the phones are ringing," says Idiot's Guide to Throwing a Great Party author Phyllis Cambria.
Of course, it's also hard for corporate number crunchers to justify a lavish jingle bell rock in a recession Christmas that more closely resembles It's a Wonderful Life than the swingin’ yuletides of yore.
But tough times, Cambria explains, transform seasonal ceremonies into must-have moments: a time when exhausted desk jockeys can unwrap their personalities and untie those tangled worker-boss relationships.
"What makes it worthwhile is when the bosses put the emphasis on the staff," says "Party Charlie," celebrity party planner. "That's what a holiday party is for. It's an employee appreciation moment."
To pull it off, Charlie suggests, get those notoriously snarky underlings to check their cynicism where they check their coat.
"Wherever you have your party, make sure you do something at the entrance," he says. "The moment that people get to the party, let them know there's a party going on."
An unexpected greeting at the door can spark smiles, especially for spouses and family, who you should invite, Cambria advises. For an extra layer of role reversal fun, have company higher-ups guard the entrance like butlers offering tray loads of treats.
"At first people will be like, 'Hey what's going on,' but then they'll say 'This is pretty cool having the president of the company serve me hors d'oeuvres.'"