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We are a family company (3 owners, 5 employees outside the family), and we are soon having our yearly Christmas office party. Usually we rent a place with a sauna for this event, but this year the 2 other owners finished building their new house and they would like to host the Christmas party over there. I feel like I wouldn’t be that comfortable spending the evening at my employers' home. Rental places doesn’t cost that much and wouldn’t be a problem, but the other owners prefer this option. Are there any disadvantages to this?

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    8 employees is quite a small company, and I imagine everyone is fairly tight knit in the work space. I personally wouldn't feel any different than going out to an event room and eating, but this is all personal preference. Unless you're in a position to negotiate going to a restaurant etc, this isn't really a workplace issue. – Jay Gould Oct 9 at 14:13
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    You say you "usually rent a place with a sauna" - do you usually use the sauna at that place? I find it odd that you would feel uncomfortable being in your employers' home but you (seemingly) have no objection to sitting naked in a room with them. Maybe it's a cultural thing, in which case mentioning the culture would be helpful. – F1Krazy Oct 9 at 14:17
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    @GreenBaloon, what's the benefit of doing that? I don't think lying is necessary in this case. – Charmander Oct 9 at 14:33
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    We're a nordic company, so sauna is common (maybe unrelated to question). I was in a hurry writing this post on my phone, so I can clarify some things, I could spend an evening at my employers house, but I'm more concerned if some employees would feel anxious or think that we're taking some cheaper way to host this event (or something else). I would just like to hear opinions so I could judge if this is +ev from our company's perspective. And also to clarify, I am one of the owners. – Chopman Oct 9 at 15:08
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    @Chopman, so you're anxious on behalf of the employees and asking this question purely hypothetically? – spuck Oct 9 at 23:06
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If the bosses want it, then go with it, and have fun. Just remember that's their castle where they live so behave yourself and don't get too drunk.

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    +1 If the boss is comfortable inviting everybody to his home, there is no reason for you to feel uncomfortable being there. And you should behave yourself and not get too drunk at every work party. – DJClayworth Oct 9 at 16:01
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    That would be one of the disadvantages of this option, newly built house will feel to the boss as a new wife or a car, any scratch will go on your mental record :) – Strader Oct 9 at 17:20
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    @Strader I see no need to scratch anything....but if you throw a party you don't cry about minor breakages. – Kilisi Oct 9 at 19:14
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    Don’t scratch anyone’s wife, new or old. That’s the best policy. – Ernest Friedman-Hill Oct 9 at 20:42
  • @Kilisi Theoretically you are correct :) – Strader Oct 10 at 22:59
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Sure thing.

For example, if something gets broken, it can create a weird spot for everyone, especially if it is something of sentimental value.

It is a company event, so it should be held at the company vicinities/someplace rented, as to avoid those possible weird scenarios.

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Treat all optional functions as mandatory.

The owners want to invite people into their home. This is a VERY intimate gesture, and refusal to go might be interpreted as a personal insult.

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    I like this. I would only add that showing up for 30 minutes of mingling and dinner is enough. Don't feel obligated to spend the entire evening there. – spuck Oct 9 at 23:09
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    As someone who doesn't much like attending optional functions, I would hate this approach. I've never liked being forced to attend work parties and pretend to have fun. – bob Oct 9 at 23:28
  • @bob Perhaps you'd like to leave an answer, – Richard U Oct 10 at 1:16
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    Treating this as a mandatory function is possibly a bit strong. Some people don't want to be too familiar with their boss. – Snow Oct 10 at 6:31
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    @Snow They may not want to be, but in a small gathering like that, one's absence will be noticed, and noted. – Richard U Oct 10 at 17:48
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This seems very common for departments/small companies. Throughout high school and my college years, my (large, national) company would throw a company Christmas party at a venue but my department head would also throw his own Christmas party at his house for just those in his department. There was never any awkwardness or feelings of being uncomfortable despite not being particularly close to or friendly with the manager/department head. I also know of several friends whose small companies also throw parties at the owners' houses.

The only time I've ever experienced thoughts of my owner being cheap or something similar regarding a change in venue was at my last job where the yearly Christmas-In-July party was changed from a booze cruise to a publicly-available, free-to-enter dinner at a Greek church down the road. In that event, it wasn't necessarily that the venue changed, it was that it went from an event that clearly showed thought, care, and effort to something that demonstrated a focus on saving money rather than caring for the employees. This was also at a small, family-ran company (less than 50 people).

I doubt the employees will feel slighted or hurt as long as they're aware that this isn't something being done intentionally to reduce spending or to be a miser.

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Some employees may not enjoy after work company get-togethers

Not every employee wants to hang out with their coworkers after work; spending 8+ hours with them 5+ days a week may well be plenty, especially if they're not close with all of their coworkers. This is especially likely with employees who may be introverted. Forced (or implicitly forced) get-togethers can generate a lot of stress and frustration for these employees.

Owner's house = so much stress!

Hosting these type of gatherings at the owner's house only ratchets up the social pressure 100-fold on any employees who are already feeling awkward. How should I act? Should I ooh and awe over the house? Can I explore, or do I need a tour? Can I touch things (furniture, decorations, etc.)? Will it be awkward if I spend too much time checking the place out? Where do I hang out? With whom? What if I don't like the food or can't eat it for dietary reasons? How much time do I have to spend schmoozing with the owner? How long do I have to stay? What happens if I accidentally break something?

Having to hang out in the owner's house just ratchets up the awkwardness 100-fold for an employee who already feels awkward hanging with coworkers after work.

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