Ho-ho-hoping to throw a successful holiday party? You need Longboat’s office party protocol.

Posted by Paddy Wall on Dec 17, 2018 5:26:51 PM

Organizing the end-of-year holiday party can seem as complicated as setting up a clinical trial. They’re expensive, a hassle to plan, and your fellow colleagues have other priorities and may not even show up.

How can you set your office party up for success? Follow our party protocol to ensure you get the best outcomes!

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Protocol Summary

First, ensure you fully brief your study team. This means everyone will be on the same page when it comes to the purpose of the holiday party.  As organizer, your purpose may be to establish team culture and motivate your staff. But to really ensure you get the whole team behind the protocol (and to show up), it’s probably better to brief them that they will be trialing lots of drinks and party food, though definitely not double-blind! To allow for special dietary requirements, you might want to consider an adaptive menu and perhaps a few menu amendments! 


Study Population

Christmas List

The next step in party organization is factoring in those all-important inclusion and exclusion criteria. For inclusion criteria, make sure you invite the entire study team – it’s a great opportunity to get to know your team better outside the formality of clinic appointments and deadlines. Plus, if you inadvertently leave someone out, good luck getting them to help with the next study you’re running.

Exclusion criteria are equally important. Want to avoid being the topic of water-cooler gossip the next day? Then best to brief people on the conversation topics to steer away from: stories about ex-spouses, the boss, and former colleagues are definite no-nos.


Study Objectives

You wouldn’t set out to start a trial without a clear objective. And your office party is no exception. No matter what secondary objectives you have in mind (opportunity for networking, showing off your second-to-none talent at karaoke), remember that the primary objective of any office party is to achieve a reduction in office monotony.

To this end, there can be several useful endpoints to measure: Number of memories to share with colleagues, number of embarrassing photos taken with the boss, or number of people who stayed to the end of the evening. You may or may not wish to use the bar bill total as an outcome measure.


Study Intervention and Design

Christmas Drinks

Of course, it’s crucial to think about the interventions you’ll test at your party. Participants could be randomized to receive several oral doses of one of the following: wine, beer, eggnog, or fruit punch.

Alcohol has been widely tested at many office parties before, so the safety profile is w
ell known. Tolerability can vary however, so you may wish to consider combining it with another intervention, such as providing access to a range of hors d’oeuvres. To ensure a robust test of this intervention, we recommend choosing one that is hard-to-eat while chatting and holding a glass, to ensure a realistic experimental setting.

All participants will be followed up until the end of the evening. Analysis is by intention-to-have-fun. And don’t forget to take account of confounding factors, such as fancy dress and awkward small talk.


Standard Operating Procedures

There are few standard operating procedures you may wish to put in place at your party.

First – everyone is likely to stand around in small groups awkwardly for at least the first few hours, probably next to colleagues they always work with. But the holiday party brings people from all departments together, so encourage your team to get to know colleagues from other parts of the organization. It’s a fantastic networking opportunity.

Second – as an icebreaker, consider organizing a Secret Santa or lucky dip. This is where experience of budget and contract negotiations will come in handy. Make sure you set a budget limit on gifts and get agreement on whether potentially embarrassing presents are allowed. No one wants to be the only one wearing a Santa outfit when everyone else has received a ‘serious’ gift! (unless, it’s the boss.)

Third - have an awards ceremony. It’s a great opportunity to recognize individual contributions or congratulate the team on reaching that recruitment milestone. Guaranteed to both motivate and embarrass your staff in equal measure.

Finally - enjoy! A holiday party is all about celebrating your success and that of your colleagues. It will build your sense of team, boost happiness, and the effort and cost of coordinating it will be more than returned by the gains in shared motivation and teamwork.


Happy Holidays From the Team at Longboat!

Longboat Clinical Technology Team





Mobile technology and clinical trials