So, you’ve been put in charge of the company holiday party. Now what? Overseeing such an event can feel like a lot of pressure. After all, there’s a lot of elements that go into planning an event. When you layer all the moving parts and details and sprinkle in a little stress and expectation to plan a better party than the year before, you’ve got the recipe for your own existential crisis. Or perhaps at least a mental breakdown. Relax, we’ve got you covered. Here’s 8 tips to help you execute the ultimate office holiday party this year!
1. Determine the Theme and Select a Venue
Figuring out the point and purpose of this party is really going to help get the ball rolling. Is this a holiday specific party with a goal in mind? Is there a requirement to make it a theme? “Winter Wonderland” themes are a little over done and generic. Try figuring out the atmosphere you want to create and move forward from there. Some of the more enjoyable parties we’ve seen in the past few years were not holiday specific, rather they were the annual holiday get together with an all-encompassing theme. Think “Harry Potter” or “The Great Gatsby”. Whatever you choose, make sure it meets the tastes of your peers. Once you’ve established your theme, that will help you pick a venue. Look for places that will fit the number of guests that will attend and with features that can easily incorporate your theme. Another thing you may want to consider is hosting your party during the “off-season” such as late November or early January. You may get better deals on the venue costs or possibly better concessions and freebies. Hosting your party on a weekday will also potentially save money. Weekday events are also less competitive for securing the date!
2. Get the Invitations Out!
You want to make sure that you give everyone enough notice so they can decide to attend the party. The invitations should include the theme, date and time of the event as well as locations and ample directions to get there. You’ll also want to ask for RSVP’s by a certain deadline so you can accurately prepare your venue and vendors for the volume of guests. Also consider asking for allergies and dietary restrictions when getting those RSVP’s back. This will help you determine the menu for the party!
3. Select a Diverse Menu
These days it seems we are all a little more aware of different dietary needs, tastes and preferences. From vegetarian, to plant-based, gluten-free and night-shade free. There is a lot to remember and consider. The simplest way to achieve diversity that will work for all your guests is to work with your culinary team at the venue or ask your venue coordinator how best to accommodate all your guests. An all-inclusive buffet is going to be the simplest way to get you there. Many venues will have a holiday themed “one-stop-shop” to cover all your peeps. Thankfully in 2019, many culinary folks are savvy regarding all these special needs and have crafted delicious ways to accommodate dietary restrictions!
4. Host a Welcoming Cocktail Hour
As guests arrive, they will need something to occupy their time and set the mood for the event. Consider hosting a cocktail hour with specialty drinks and appetizers. Many guests are coming to this party ready to enjoy all there is to offer, so expect them to be hungry and thirsty! Look up drinks that fit your theme to add an extra fun element to your party. One thing to note though, beverage consumption is often hard to predict. Setting guidelines, budgets and ground rules for beverage consumption can help you stay on budget and keep guests safe! One way to do this is to give guests a limited number of drink tickets to curb overindulgence.
5. Incorporate Interactive Bars
Speaking of menus and cocktail hours; a lot of party planners find success in adding an element of creativity when it comes to the bar and food stations. Some fun ideas are “build-you-own-cocktail” bars or spiked coffee stations. Another great idea is food you can play with! Creative appetizer displays or food finishes that will get your guests involved in the magic are going to be big hits.
6. Make a List and Check it Twice!
Making a list of items that you will need to get done before the party is going to help you stay organized. The main things that should be on your list are things like supplies and décor items and general event deadlines. You might also consider asking the venue for layout options and ideas so you can plan accordingly. You should definitely create a timeline for the event to keep everything on pace and to ensure that there are no periods of time where guests are going to be idle for too long.
7. Entertainment and Gifts
Think about the best parties you’ve ever attended. They without a doubt likely included some element of entertainment and a takeaway. Traditional holiday parties usually include some type of gift giving, gift exchange or a company-gifted swag bag. You could switch up the spirit of giving this year by also including a fundraiser for charity or a cause that your guests can participate in. Additionally, we highly encourage other non-traditional forms of entertainment. Some fun ideas we’ve seen are dueling pianos, magicians, performing arts and bands. Don’t forget photography to document all the shenanigans!
Now that you have all the details down, its time to relax and enjoy the party. Try not to stress during the festivities! Its easy for hosts to still feel the pressure of party planning during the actual party because they are worried about how the party is being received or if their guests are having a good time. The best advice we can give is to stop stressing. No one is judging you to the degree you think they are. We guarantee you’ll get more thumbs up than not! So, grab a cocktail and join them!
Cheers! We hope this was helpful. Please check back often for more party planning tips!