A reader writes:
I have an employee who threw me a curveball after receiving their RSVP to our office’s holiday party with the option to include a +1. They are polyamorous and wanted to invite all three of their partners (with whom they share a home), so they reached out to HR and asked if they could do so. HR told them no, and then my employee asked me about it. We found a workaround (they’re asking other coworkers if their partners can come as the coworkers’ +1s), but now it’s really got me thinking about +1s at office holiday parties in general. Can you think of an equitable solution to this that also doesn’t devolve into people having to prove the validity of their relationships, while still respecting the need to limit head counts at holiday parties?
I think you can either say partners are invited and accept that might mean someone has more than one partner or you can give everyone a plus-one (without specifying that it’s for partners) and explain preemptively you can’t offer more because headcount is limited.
However, I’m curious if your HR has ever said yes to someone bringing a partner and kid(s). If they have, this is about polyamory, not headcount.
(One other thing — make sure your other employees don’t feel pressured to give up their own plus-ones to make your workaround work!)