If planning the perfect office holiday bash has you scratching your head and wondering where to begin, start with our handy check list. Planning now eliminates stress come December when you’d much rather be wrapping gifts, guzzling egg nog and humming along to holiday tunes.
- Choose a venue and book a date. Be it the office lunch room, a local restaurant or private event venue, find a location that suits your budget and comfortably accommodates your guest list. Most importantly, reserve it as soon as possible before the best dates are taken.
- Plan the menu. If you’re using a venue, you may have to separately contract a caterer. Make sure you know the details (onsite caterer, approved list or open to outside caterers) before you book. If you’re planning at a restaurant, discuss menu options based on the time of day – cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, seated dinner, buffet luncheon. Or research restaurants and caterers who will deliver to the office. Keep your office’s general food preferences in mind and include vegetarian options when possible. Decide if you’ll offer alcohol as well. And don’t forget about non-alcoholic beverages, too.
- Send out a save the date. It’s the busiest time of the year so be sure to e-mail a save the date to all employees once the when and where are finalized (preferably at least a month before the party to ensure a good turn out). As party time approaches, you can send updates including any details for a gift exchange or charity donation, special entertainment to look forward to (a great band, photo booth, casino games, etc.), or a preview of what’s on the menu.
- Set the scene. If your venue won’t be decked out for the holidays, start thinking about some festive decor to put party goers in the mood for fun. Twinkle lights, evergreen wreaths and garlands, candles in hurricane glasses, wooden nutcracker centerpieces, poinsettias… pick up items at craft stores now before the mad rush. Give centerpieces away as door prizes to minimize clean up. Pick up plastic bins with lids to store items that can be reused for next year’s party – be sure to clearly label.
- Crank up the holiday tunes. Whether downloading a playlist to your iPod, hiring a d.j. to get the party started on the dance floor or a jazz band for fun and classy entertainment, nothing creates a celebratory vibe like music.
- Give a perfect gift. Recognize stand out employees with something special. Gift certificates for lunch at a favorite restaurant, fruit and snack gift baskets, gourmet chocolates, local wines. Consider reaching out to businesses your company partners with throughout the year to see if they would be willing to donate a door prize for your holiday event. If your group enjoys exchanging gifts, arrange a “Secret Santa” ahead of time. Or set up a table to collect donations for a local charity or food drive.
- Enjoy! You did a great job so relax, chat with colleagues, indulge in an extra dessert, boogie on the dance floor, pose for group photos and enjoy yourself.