So you’ve been selected for the company holiday party planning committee – or maybe you are the committee! And now fall is already here and your coworkers are counting down the shopping days ’til the holidays officially arrive while you have not yet planned a thing. Worry not, procrastinator! Take our advice and you can still plan a fantastic event with a little stress and make the entire office happy.
10 Tips for Stress-Free Company Holiday Party Planning
- Secure the date early. It’s not always easy to get the entire gang together, although the promise of free food and drinks does help. If you’re planning to host your holiday party at an off-premise venue, check their availability first. Take a poll. Send out a list of three or four possible party dates and ask for feedback. Nag until you get some feedback. And then go with a date that works for the majority.
- Come up with a theme. A fun theme serves as inspiration for everything else (think invites, menu, entertainment and decor). And it will add to the anticipation and excitement for the party itself. Need some party theme inspiration? Click here for a few fun ideas from PunchBowl. I love classic holiday themes like an elegant blue Christmas with up-lighting on pristine white linens or traditional decor reminiscent of scenes from Thomas Kinkade. Or for something fun and whimsical, themes that recreate the fun of holidays as a child… who doesn’t love Charlie Brown or the Grinch?
- Email and print invites. Email a save the date early. Then follow up with an official e-vite where employees click to rsvp. Send a second email to non-responders and, finally, a reminder the week of the party. In addition to your e-vite, print something fun and festive to distribute or post in a common area. With the chaos of holiday season, we all need multiple reminders.
- Plan interactive entertainment. Get everyone involved in a fun activity to jump start the party atmosphere. Set up a DIY smores or hot cocoa bar, or a gingerbread house or cookie decorating competition. White elephant gift exchanges can be a blast. If you have the budget, bring in some great entertainment – a magician, comedian, caricature artist, fortune teller. Karaoke anyone? Keep your employees and the general vibe of your office in mind and try to come up with something that most party-goers will enjoy and participate in.
- Be sure to have plenty of food and drinks. The day of week and time of day will really dictate what is enough. If you’re planning a work day lunch event, you probably don’t have to include a four-course meal and open bar. If it’s a weeknight holiday happy hour, heavy appetizers and some fun stations with signature drinks could work. If it’s a Saturday evening affair at a ritzy ballroom, more will be expected in the f&b department.
- Decide on an alcohol policy. Most employers serve alcohol at holiday parties. About half limit consumption, usually by providing a few drink tickets for each attendee. Open bar? Cash bar? Beer, wine, a signature cocktail? Up to you. Do what works for your budget and the powers that be.
- Do good – support a cause or charity with a fundraiser or raffle. Instead of a gift exchange, ask employees to pick a name from an “angel tree” and donate a gift to those in need. Collect items for a silent auction or offer a 50/50 raffle and donate the proceeds to a favorite charity. Instead of a traditional holiday party, spend the day as a group volunteering for a non-profit organization your company supports. Nothing gives you the warm fuzzies and fills you with holiday cheer like doing something kind for others.
- Fun it up with festive decorations. From DIY decor to suit your chosen theme, to fun lighting and traditional holiday elements, get creative and have fun. Whether your celebration is being held in the office board room, a restaurant or a bowling alley, everyone appreciates the thought and effort put into some fun decor.
- Limit guests and make it a lunch event or a casual happy hour. If you’re crunched for planning time, limited on budget, or just want to minimize the stress level of planning a huge event, go with something more casual for employees only. Everyone appreciates an opportunity to leave the office early one day of the year and relax with coworkers, without the pressure of meetings or a pile of work to make up later.
- Give a gift or incorporate appreciation in some way. It’s always nice to use the company holiday party as an opportunity to say thank you. Gift cards and holiday bonuses are much-appreciated. A handwritten holiday card with a personal message and a heartfelt, genuine speech go a long way. Looking for other ways to say thanks? Have spa services available at your party – who doesn’t love a mini spa treatment while sipping champagne?
For more holiday party planning, event, wedding, and garden inspiration, check out our Pinterest boards.