Holiday Party Planning
So, you’ve been tasked with planning your Company’s Holiday party. Maybe you’ve been putting it off? Or, you’re just not sure where to begin? Don’t worry, we’re here to help! Not only will your associates have a fun and meaningful experience, but you’ll look like a superstar for planning an awesome event!
Company Holiday Party Planning- Let’s Get Started Because the holidays will be here SOON!
Decide on your Holiday Party Style! Questions to ask yourself:
- Who is invited? Just the staff or spouses & family too? Will you be inviting any clients to the Holiday Party?
- Is this an extravagant affair, or would something more laid back and relaxed suit your company better?
- What’s your décor style? Will you pick a holiday party theme, such as Winter Wonderland or A Christmas Story?
- When is the best time to have this party? Is it a luncheon in the middle of the week, or is a Saturday night better suited for your vision? When taking Date & Time into account, make sure you consider this: Luncheons are great ways to ensure that staff will attend the party and they usually tend to be more budget-friendly. Cocktail Receptions or Weekend Evening parties are a great way to get staff to unwind, however, they usually come with a heftier price tag. Speaking of the price tag…
- What is your budget? Knowing how much you have to spend is crucial to nail down before getting started. Know what your limit is so that you can plan accordingly. Don’t forget to consider that some items may come with Taxes, Services Charges, or Gratuities!
Let’s talk about The Venue!
- Your budget will go a long way in determining what kind of venue you can afford. Keep in mind, that if you are late to get started planning, several venues may already be booked- especially for Friday & Saturday nights. If you run into trouble, consider hosting your party on a Thursday night as an alternative.
- Will it be at the Office? Your Boss’ house? A Restaurant? Hotel? Loft? Consider the Vibe you want the party to have- your venue may go a long way in creating that feeling.
- Make sure your venue can accommodate the number of guests you are inviting, as well as the space you may need for entertainment, catering, bar services, and/or staff.
Food & Beverage:
- What’s your food service style? This should be reflective of the general theme and feel of your party. If it’s a more formal affair, look towards full-service catering with a sit-down dinner. If this is a more casual & relaxed holiday party, lean towards food stations. Take your budget, venue, and number of guests into consideration here, as all of these factors affect the type of catering services you provide.
Pick your menu! Keep it fun, keep it simple! Remember, not everyone will have extravagant tastes- while you may love the idea of a Raw Bar– your budget and Guest list may not allow for this. Select items that the majority of your guests will enjoy. If you need help, ask your caterer for suggestions! Sometimes catering companies will have already come up with a select few holiday menus- these can be the perfect solution for coming in on budget while ensuring the food pairs well with each other.
- Here’s another area that can prove to be costly for any event. Decide ahead of time if you will have a Premium or Top-Shelf Bar Service, or if you will limit it to a few selections (like Whiskey, Vodka, and Tequila) along with Beer & Wine. Another option is to serve Beer & Wine only while offering 1 or 2 Signature Cocktails. You can jazz these up with fun garnishes and give them a catchy holiday name, such as “The Clark Griswold” or “Mistletoe Madness”. Again, refer to your budget and the number of guests attending! If you are hosting your Holiday Party at a venue where you can Bring Your Booze, refer to our article Beverage Cheat Sheet here for tips on quantities and service. And, don’t forget to offer Sodas, Water, and Coffee for those guests who will not be participating in the adult beverages.
- What kind of entertainment will be provided? Consider your Holiday Party Style and/or theme- what will keep things festive and fun? If it’s an evening party, will you need to hire a DJ or Band? What other activities might you want to offer your guests? Get creative! You could have different stations and offer items such as Wine Tasting or Cigar Rolling. Maybe you’d like to have a Selfie Photo Station or a photo booth? Or, consider hiring a professional photographer for the evening.
- Awards & Recognition: determine ahead of time if anyone will be honored at the holiday party. Consider who will be speaking and how long they will need the spotlight. It is a great opportunity to highlight key players or teams for a job well done, as well as to recap the year and your company’s achievements.
Will you need to include any Rentals for the holiday party?
- Consider if you need to rent any tables, linens, or chairs. Depending on your selected venue, they may already be included.
- If you have the room available, consider adding a few Lounge Areas. You can rent sofas, chairs, coffee tables, and more to create seating pockets around the venue. These create special areas for your guests to sit in and add a fun element to the décor and vibe of your holiday party.
- What do you need for entertainment? A stage? Dance floor? Speakers or audio system? If hiring a DJ, make sure you confirm what they will be providing and bringing with them for your event. In some cases, they may expect you to provide them with tables, chairs, or a sound system.
- Décor items: will you be renting these from a shop or purchasing items for the event?
- Catering items: make sure you check with your venue or caterer to confirm what items they are providing. Does this include plate ware, flatware, or glassware? Does it include place settings or centerpieces & décor for your tables? If they are not providing these you can rent them from a local shop.
- A/V & Lighting- will you be playing a slideshow? Video? Consider if you need a screen, TV monitor, etc. Perhaps you’d like to add some special lighting around the room for an added effect?
Design your Venue Layout! We cannot stress how important this is! Work with your event planner to determine the exact room layout. You need to determine ahead of time where guests are going to sit, where the bar(s) will be, the entertainment, and more. Your Event Planner will have the tools available to design the perfect room and give you printed copies for you and the other vendors. There are so many factors to consider here- the number of guests, size of the room, and more- don’t leave this to chance, there’s nothing worse than having a cramped room or having to move the bar to the hallway because you didn’t plan your room design before the big day.
Invitations: How will you promote your holiday party? And more importantly, how will you make sure it’s well attended? Whether it’s a small or large office party, it is imperative to get the word out! This is a perfect avenue to use to invite guests and it’s easy to use. Simply select your invitation, add the details, upload your guest list and send it! Your invitees will have a fun holiday invitation sent right to their inbox, and the best part? They can RSVP online, keeping it easy for you to see who is attending and who’s not. For added measure, consider creating a holiday poster or flyer and hanging it in the break rooms.
- Gifts: it is that time of year again! Will your company be giving a little something to the staff at the party? Employees love to feel appreciated, especially during the holidays. Consider a little something they can take home. Or, instead of a gift, perhaps a charitable contribution on the company’s behalf?
- Create a Timeline! You need to plan ahead of time so that your event runs smoothly. Lay out arrival and set-up times. Make sure you include all Vendors, Guest arrival times, and tear down & clean up time after the event. Other items to include in your timeline are when the bar opens/closes, food service times, and any entertainment and/or speakers that will be on-site during your holiday party.
- Contact Sheet: Include a Vendor Contact sheet and have multiple copies printed out with you. You never know whom you are going to need to reach a moment’s notice and the last thing you want to be doing is digging through your bag or laptop file to try to find someone’s name & phone number. Also, make sure you have an alternative contact & phone number for each of your vendors. For example, if your Florist is running late and not answering her cell phone, make sure you can get ahold of someone else at the shop to ensure that your items are being delivered and handled according to the level of service you agreed upon.
The Week of:
- Review Vendor Contracts
- Confirm services, arrival times, services to be rendered, and clean up/tear down schedule
- Confirm who your Point of Contact is on the day of your Holiday Party.
- Review your Venue Layout, Timeline, and checklist
- Lastly, Get ready to enjoy! By this time, you’ve put a lot of thought, time, and energy into planning the perfect Holiday Party for your company. Take a moment, relax, and do something to treat yourself- you’ve earned it!
Follow these guidelines and your Company’s Holiday Party is sure to be a success. Wishing you good health and lots of love this holiday season.