How To Plan An Awesome Company Holiday Party
Some look forward to that time of the year with excitement, while others may dread it, but either way, it’s coming, like it or not…that time of year when you must plan for the company holiday party! And while you may not be able to control what may happen if Phyllis decides to have one too many drinks or if Roy takes down his pants and hops on the copy machine AGAIN… you can do your best to make sure the party is as exciting as possible.
If you’re like all of the other event planners, marketing coordinators or office managers who have been tasked with planning your company holiday party, it’s understandable that you may be dealing with some added stress and anxiety this season. But never fear! It doesn’t have to be difficult and you don’t have to do all of the company holiday party planning alone. We’ve performed at a ton of different company holiday parties and these are the tips that we’ve gathered from the good ones.
Create a Holiday Party Checklist
A holiday party checklist is a great way to get organized when you are throwing your holiday party. Start by thinking of everything you will need; location, food, supplies, decorations, holiday party entertainment…and the list may go on!
Whatever it is you think you may need, organize it into your checklist. Then, come up with a timeline that will give you a good idea of when things should be completed by and a list of stakeholders you will rely on to help you accomplish each task on your list. Not only will this help you to stay more organized, but knowing that you have a clear idea of what needs to be completed when and who’s responsible for what will help you relieve some of that stress.
There are plenty of party planner apps available that can help you create an organized checklist. Some suggestions include the Pro Party Planner, Wunderlist and BIg Night Dinner Party Planner. Find the app that best suits your needs.
Securing a Date That Works for Your Colleagues
When creating a holiday party checklist, the first thing on that list should be securing a date for your party. Your date will give you a deadline and a better idea as to when you need to have everything completed by. Be sure to choose a date when everyone will be feeling festive for the holiday season but is not so close to it that people will be out of town or too busy with other parties and activities to attend.
You’ll also probably have to run the date by key executives to make sure that most or all of the management team is going to be available to attend. Make sure to propose 2 or 3 dates so that there are other options in case your first choice gets rejected.
Preparing a Budget
When it comes to planning the office holiday party, it is likely your company already has a budget in mind. However, if you are working at a newer company, you may have to do a bit of research and work with your superiors to find a number that will allow for a great party and is affordable as well. Either way, when coming up with a budget, there are certain things to consider.
First, think about how upscale you would like the party to be, how many people will be attending and any kind of themes or activities you would like to incorporate. From there, you can get estimates on locations, food, supplies, decorations and whatever else you may need. Below are some numbers that will help you gauge how expensive you want your party to be.
$20-50/person – very cheap
$51-200/person – moderate
$200+/person – expensive
Discuss numbers with your higher ups to find budget that works for everyone.
Find the Right Location
When it comes to location, you may be lucky enough to have an office that’s fun enough, and big enough, so that you can just throw the party there. But it is likely that most of your co-workers spend between 40-50 hours a week working at that space!! So why not get everyone out of the office and find a venue that will bring a different vibe?!
Because every other company in town is also planning an office holiday party, it’s likely there will be in competition for the same venues. Make sure to secure your location early on so that you won’t have any trouble locking in the date you are looking for. Find a place that is convenient for everyone in your office to travel to. Somewhere near the office may be best.
Also, make sure your location has ample parking and is suited to for the event you are having there. For example, if you’re having live entertainment, you will want to get a location that has a stage, PA and other necessary equipment your performers will need to make entertaining possible.
If you are having food, you will want to get a location that has a kitchen.
Of course, you can also opt for a location that does not supply these amenities, but, if that is the case, you should think about the logistics and costs of acquiring them yourself.
There are a number of resources online that can help you to find that perfect event space. Peerspace.com is a great example and there are many web sites that might be helpful as well. Browse around to find one that can provide you with the perfect location.
Get Food Everyone Will Love
Food is a huge consideration at any holiday party. You may hold your party at a restaurant, bring in catering, hire a few food trucks to show up at your space, or even have a potluck where everyone in the office brings in an item that is homemade. Whatever you decide, there will be some planning involved.
It is important to remember that many of your co-workers will have dietary restrictions. It’s a good idea to canvas the office to find out the kind of foods your co-workers would like to eat as well as the ones they are restricted from eating. Then work with whoever will be providing the food to make sure there are options available for everyone.
Giving Out Invitations
Even though you might think everyone in your office is aware of when and where your holiday party is, you should always plan for the unexpected. No matter how prepared you think you may be or how good of a job you did in giving everyone the details of the party, you can count on last minute questions that may involve information you’ve given your guests a thousand times!
While this kind of questioning is probably unavoidable, you can do your best to minimize last minute inquiries by sending out invitations that are as informative as possible.
While everyone is digital these days, if you choose to email an invitation, you might want to follow up with something in writing. Emails can be easily overlooked while pieces of paper can be lost so you are best off going with both options. If someone does not respond, follow up to make sure they received your invitation.
There are a number of websites that you can use to send out party invitations and keep track of the responses you are getting from each of your guests. They will also send your guests reminders about the party as it gets closer. Using these sites is a great way to stay on top of even the most disorganized guests! Some websites that are great to use to keep your party invitations organized include Evite, Punchbowl and even Facebook.
Finding the Right Holiday Party Entertainment
Now that you have taken care of all the logistical details, it’s time to focus on the fun part…the entertainment! There are various suggestions for entertainment in the planning of your office holiday party and here are a few ideas that may work for you.
Plan a Theme: Themed parties can be a lot of fun. The theme you choose can set the groundwork for the way you choose to decorate, the entertainment and the activities you provide. You can even get your co-workers in on the fun by suggesting they show up in attire that complements the theme.
Themes can be related to an era in the past, a movie, a color, a culture, the holiday or season itself or even a holiday that has nothing to do with the holiday you are celebrating. Imagine beach fun at Christmas! Or a winter wonderland for a 4th of July picnic!
Plan Activities: Activities can be a great way to break the ice at your holiday party. Activities can include charades, scavenger hunts, trivia, crafts and more. If you choose to throw a themed party, be sure to choose activities that represent your theme.
Give Out Prizes: Your activities will be even more fun when your guests are competing for prizes. These can include tech gifts, gift certificates, gift baskets, chocolates, paid days off or tickets to an exciting local event. You can also hold raffles for these prizes and have the money raised go to a worthy cause. Gift bags can also be given out to workers as a memento of the times you’ve had and to show them how much you appreciate them.
Have a Photo Booth: A photo booth can not only provide a fun activity for the people in your office, it will also make for a great party souvenir. If a photo booth is not in your budget, you can create your own by providing a fun background, some great props and, of course, a digital camera!
Do a Gift Swap: Secret Santa events are always fun and can save your co-workers money limiting their gift giving to one member of the office. Make your gift exchange event even more fun by putting a spin on it. Incorporate the gift theme into the theme of your party or put your own theme on it.
You can also make your gift swap into a contest, giving the gifts to people who win guessing games as to what’s inside the box.
Another take on this is to forego the gift giving completely have everyone donate money to their favorite charity instead. Be even more charitable by having the company match the employee’s donation and giving this money to the charity of their choice.
Give Back to The Community: The holidays are a great time to think of those in need and giving back can be a great way for your office to build a sense of camaraderie. You can use your party to provide much needed supplies for the needy by requiring them to bring a toy or food item to your party as a donation to a charity you all decided is deserving.
Another option is to take the crew out to participate in a volunteering opportunity near you. Afterwards, be sure to take them out for drinks or a casual dinner.
Have a Group Outing: Sometimes the destination you plan to go to can provide its own party. Rather than bring the fun to your office, why not bring your office to the fun? Think of taking them to a bowling alley, roller rink, a comedy show or concert. The options are limitless!
Holiday Party Live Music: Live music is another great way to provide entertainment at your party. People will enjoy dancing, listening and having fun in general as the band rocks out to everyone’s favorite tunes.
The band you choose can be in line with the theme of the party you are throwing. For instance, if you are throwing a party with a theme that honors a certain decade, you can hire a band that plays music that was popular during that decade.
Of course, it’s a good idea to get a band that you know will be professional, on time, available and really knows how to get the crowd going! A quality music act will have a website with live footage so you can see exactly what to expect as far as the kind of music they play, their level of skill and musicianship and how well they can work a crowd.
And if you’re not going to hire us, make sure you get a band who can bring it just as well as we can!!
These helpful tips should ensure that you will be able to organize a great party that everyone will enjoy. Anything you feel we may have left out? Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comment section below!