With the holidays fast approaching, it’s time to begin planning the parties, events and special dinners of the season, which might include a holiday gathering at your home or work. Workplace holiday parties offer a fun way to interact with your colleagues in an out-of-work environment (even if you’ve just traveled to the conference room!), making them a great way to get to know the people you spend day after day with.

When it comes to planning and putting together your event, it’s important to consider the needs of your colleagues and guests, including any disabilities they may live with. Whether some members of your team have limited mobility or a colleague’s partner and plus one uses a wheelchair to get around, planning an accessible holiday party ensures every guest enjoys their time to the fullest.

Choose an Open Area to Host Your Event

The most important rule of hosting a wheelchair-friendly party is to make it easily accessible. Make sure you create ample open space for guests to mix and mingle. Push catering and refreshment tables to the edges of the room to create maximum space and remove any obstacles for your guests. If your office building does not have an elevator, be sure to host your party on the first floor or relocate the gathering to a more accessible location.

Create an Accommodating Menu

Speaking of food and beverages, it’s important to keep your guests dietary restrictions in mind when planning a holiday party menu. A good rule of thumb is to ask guests to notify you of any allergies or food intolerance when you send out invitations. If your event is on the less formal side, without an accurate head count prior to the actual party, just be sure you’re serving an assortment of vegetarian, vegan, low-sugar, gluten-free friendly dishes.

Communication is Key

Your accessibility planning can go a long way, but once your event is underfoot, the best tip we can offer is to keep communication lines open with able-bodied guests and those with disabilities. Make sure your guests know who to turn to if they have any immediate needs, and stay calm and collected as you try to accommodate those needs. Above all, holiday gatherings should be a time for conversation and cheer, so remember to have fun and enjoy this special time with colleagues and friends.

The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) is an advocate for mobility and accessibility for drivers with disabilities. If you need help with converting or buying a handicap accessible car, truck or van, please consider one of our Quality Assurance Program mobility equipment dealers.

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