I'm considering inviting a few of my coworkers to an annual Friendsgiving event that my wife and I host for several of our friends this year. This is not a small affair, we host something on the order of 30+ people with this event and mostly consists of people coming and going.

While I am part of my company's management, I am not in charge of these coworkers' in any manner other than I ask them to perform work on some of my projects and they do it for me. I've no authority to promote them nor discipline them, although, were one to do unsatisfactory work for me and I couldn't get the matter resolved between myself and them, my next step would have to be their manager.

Is this appropriate or does it create an HR issue?

  • Do you expect gifts? – user70848 Nov 10 '18 at 2:45
  • No. Friendsgiving is just a meal akin to Thanksgiving. – Pyrotechnical Nov 10 '18 at 16:26
  • I mean do you expect housewarming gifts, like a bottle of wine or a dessert? – user70848 Nov 11 '18 at 4:53
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    I am not in charge of these coworkers... Are you managing people at all in your role? If so, are those employees also invited? – BSMP Nov 11 '18 at 17:58
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    It would be useful to clarify whether this party would be on or within the same week as Thanksgiving itself. I suspect most people, like myself, assumed that because of the name, it was just in November, not during the actual holiday. – BSMP Nov 13 '18 at 6:54

While there is nothing wrong with it, the dynamics would seem inadvisable to me.

You have no idea whether the two groups will mix well, so you may end up with 'friends' group and 'colleagues' group and some discomfort. Plus they may feel pressured into accepting.

It's much more normal as a superior to host something in the workplace, not your home, and it's generally advisable to keep the two separate. If it was immediate colleagues it would have a different dynamic, but even then I'd advise against taking work home in that manner. Unless it was an event purely for them.

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    FWIW based on my knowledge of Thanksgiving in particular in the US, it does seem totally inappropriate. It's when yanks get right in to "Family" stuff, it has a kind of sacred cow thing. – Fattie Nov 11 '18 at 18:08
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    Yeah, everywhere I've been you either cater friends or workmates unless there is some overlap, rarely both except your wedding or funeral. Especially if it's not close friends but acquaintances and not work mates but people you barely know who work for another section. – Kilisi Nov 11 '18 at 21:02

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What do you expect your relationship to be with these co-workers the next Monday? Do you want to grow a non-work relationship with them, "as friends"? Do you expect that nothing will change?

  • Do you think they might consider you a "friend" or someone they can confide in and trust within the company? If they did, how would that affect the workplace dynamic?

  • How many other people within the company did you invite? How many have attended in the past? Did you invite your boss? What about other people on your team?

If you're just singling a few people out and assuming nothing about your workplace relationship will change, that seems kind of naive. But if it's truly a holiday party, and you invited other co-workers, like your boss, then it's probably OK.

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Yes, of course, this is traditional and accepted in many companies in many countries. In some places and times it's even kind of expected for managers to be inviting people to events at their home. Insert infinite caveats about HR-appropriate behavior and booze and being rapey and whatever that are required in our current climate, but in general it is fine and good to have subordinates to your place for events or even - horrors - mix with them in non-completely-employee company.

For example, my step-mother runs a large therapy practice and every year they have some kind of holiday gathering where they invite all the employees and their guests along.

But as with everything, you need to take the temperature of the place you are. Every small business in the US does this pretty much without exception if the boss wants to. In some large enterprises you'd have drama and "WHAT ABOUT THE HR" concerning it. Ask other managers/see what they do in your locale/company to determine what is culturally appropriate.

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    However, the invitation needs to make it entirely optional, with no pressure to attend. And those who attend and those who do not should continue to be treated impartially. – thursdaysgeek Nov 9 '18 at 22:27

Were it me, I wouldn't do it. Nice thought, "thank you very much" and all-of-that, but I still wouldn't do it.

Let your holiday gathering be what it now is – a gathering of your friends. If "the boss," or even "a boss," "invites" you, some people might interpret that to be "a command performance."

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IMHO, you should invite everyone not just specific underlings. Otherwise it looks strange

Note: Comments are welcome, especially with down-vote

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    This was my first thought as well but from the OP none of the invitees are managed by them. If that weren't the case then it would be definitely problematic to invite some but not all. (Didn't downvote) – jcm Nov 10 '18 at 20:10

I'll go ahead and put in the "No, certainly not" reasoning. Someone has to, right?!


  1. Thanksgiving is (by far) the biggest travel day in the USA.

Most worker-level employees would find it annoying (if not frankly bizarre) to have a work-event scheduled in the Thanksgiving "season".

In the bulk of the country it is a family oriented weekend. Even in the few very progressive parts of the country, it would still be a strange time to schedule some sort of work event, as, it is the "time everyone schedules some sort of party".

  1. ... and they would indeed just think of it as a "work event". You're one of the "bosses". You know how people think about "bosses". That's you. (Sad but true right?!)

What you think of as a cheery invitation, helping out the lower classes as it were, being a modern equitable friend to everyone - they are just rolling their eyes and saying Mr. Smith wants us over at his house, what next. (!)

  1. Based on your description of this happening party (I want an invite!), I get a particular vibe of how the party is going to be. You're a social group and know how to throw a party. My "party nose" tells me this is just not the type of party you invite "some juniors from work" to; they'll just feel out of it.

  2. (On a roll now!) You explain these are not "your" staff. They're someone else's. (You have them on projects occasionally.) To me that I'm afraid just seems wrong. Their bosses will be p'd off that you're oddly inviting their guys around to your swinging joint. Why would you do this? For what reason?

  3. Officers wanting to fraternize with enlisted ... is it ever a good idea? They bluntly just don't like you. You're the boss, or a boss. All they want you to do is keep the coming rolling in money, so they can collect a paycheck, and go home to the bar/family of their choice.

  4. On top of all that, they will feel obligated to say yes. What do you think when someone from the board casually asks you to come to their Hamptons house on the Saturday? Same.

  5. As user70848 points out, there's the bizarre aspect of inviting a handpicked few, and also not your boss. It's .. not coherent, you know?

For me it's a No!

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    The OP described the event as a Friendsgiving, meaning it's not a traditional Thanksgiving with family and they invited a few co-workers over. Also, Thanksgiving is a holiday that is up to people to decide how they want to celebrate. It's not a "sacred cow". Some people choose to celebrate with family. Some with friends. The point is to be thankful, not to be thankful with family. – user70848 Nov 11 '18 at 18:30
  • howdy - perhaps our USA experience differs. Thanksgiving is the biggest travel day of the year in the US. It is indeed "the" day when family gets together; all college students "come home" that weekend. (It's very likely the invited people would be going to family events anyway.) It's deeply rooted in US history, pilgrimism and conservatism. In conservative areas (ie, all of the USA other than Manhattan and SF !) having a "humorous" twist on thanksgiving would be worse if anything than having a "humorous" twist on Christmas. Again, our experiences of the US may differ! Cheers! – Fattie Nov 12 '18 at 3:17
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    Here in Texas I have a group of friends that does a "Gamer Thanksgiving" because most don't have/travel back to their family homes for the holiday; what the traditional thing is on the Hallmark Channel and what most people's everyday experience is in real life is pretty different in 2018. – mxyzplk - SE stop being evil Nov 12 '18 at 13:50
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    Maybe the people you learned about Thanksgiving with considered the holiday “a sacred cow”, but what you’re describing simply is not an accurate portrayal of American culture. – user70848 Nov 12 '18 at 22:13
  • The focus on Thanksgiving is unimportant, hopefully the other six points are useful to the OP! Regarding thanksgiving, I'm pretty familiar with the whole country. I don't have a dog in the race, but it's commonplace that the progressive elements of the US are at odds with traditionalist elements! Again it's a tangent here. – Fattie Nov 13 '18 at 1:27

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