How To Plan A Memorable Office Holiday Party

Thomas Adams
October 15, 2019

Celebrating your employees is something that any company would like to do. You want to let them know that they are appreciated and that you know how much hard work they put into your company every day.

One of the ways that many companies try to provide this type of celebration for their employees is through a holiday party. It sounds like a perfect idea, but the problem comes in when you’re trying to actually get through the planning process. That’s when things really seem to get out of control, right?

Choosing the Style

Let’s start with the basics of planning your party. The first thing you need to decide is just how elaborate your party is going to be. If you’re a small company or a start-up you may want to keep the party simple. That could be anything from a potluck at the office to a little get-together in the back room of your favorite restaurant.

Either of these will let your employees know that they are important to you and that you want to celebrate with them, but keep in mind that larger companies probably aren’t going to get by with something quite so small and basic. 

If you have a larger company your employees will expect you to do something to reflect how important you find them. Smaller company employees understand that their boss doesn’t have the kind of money it takes to throw a huge event. Larger companies, on the other hand, should be looking for a full-fledged event.

This generally means hiring a caterer and getting a separate location to host. Employees are usually invited to bring their partner along (though kids are not always invited). There should be at least finger foods and drinks as well as some kind of décor to make the place look festive.

When the Event Takes Place

Now, once again, if you’re looking to host a smaller event you can have something catered and waiting in the break room for your employees. This type of event makes it easy for everyone to participate because your employees are already at work.

They can stop into the room to grab some snacks or lunch (whatever you choose to supply) and then they can get back to the rest of their work day. They don’t need to schedule something for after work hours.

A party, however, that occurs completely separate from work can be a great option. These parties are going to give you a chance to associate with your employees outside of the work environment and to meet their families (whether you choose to allow kids or not is up to you and the type of party you’re having).

This can make the employees feel more like part of a family and more appreciated and cared for by the company they’re working for. That’s definitely going to make them more loyal and more productive as well so it’s a win-win.

Planning Your Company Holiday Party

Okay, so you want to plan something really great but you just don’t know how to do it all. After all, you have your normal workload to think about and you have to book a caterer, find an event space, plan the décor and the list doesn’t seem to be getting shorter.

Getting someone that can help you with this process is definitely going to be a great way to go. Talk to people within your company and see who would like to be on a planning committee for the party. You’ll probably find people willing to help.

The important thing is that these people all work together (including you) to come up with all of the ideas and that each person is assigned tasks. One person should be assigned to contact the caterer. One should be assigned to contact the location you would like and so on.

This makes it far more organized and makes sure that everything is going to get done before the event is actually supposed to happen. Plus, it frees up a little more of your time and spreads the planning process around to get more people’s input. 

What To Serve

Are you looking to have a few appetizers only for your event? Maybe you just want to keep things simple and maybe you’re looking to cut a few costs as well. Having appetizers and drinks (since those are generally expected) can be a good way to go. You’ll be able to cut a little but still provide your guests with something they’re going to like. But if you want to serve a full meal you can take a look at the two standard methods. A buffet or a plated meal.

Now, a buffet is usually going to be less expensive per person, depending on the type of food that you choose. If you’re going to choose something higher end, however, you may actually do better with a plated meal. The reason for this is that plated meal provides each guest with a set amount of food.

A buffet needs to account for people who will take more than their share. Take a close look at the numbers and the type of food that you want to serve before you make a final decision. And then take a look at the alcohol list. 

Alcohol: To Serve Or Not To Serve?

Should you have alcohol? Most company parties do serve alcohol and, to be honest, there are some employees who go for this reason alone. As a result, you may want to have at least some alcohol available.

But, you also want to make sure that your employees aren’t going to be getting so tipsy that they’re going to make some bad decisions at your holiday party. Not to mention you don’t want to foot the bill for all of that. Which is why a lot of companies will actually choose to limit the bar.

You can choose to limit how many drinks each person is allowed to have in order to both cut costs and keep employees from drinking too much. You can also limit the type of alcohol that’s offered, for example only offering a wine selection.

You could have the bar open only for a set number of hours at the beginning of the party or narrowing the variety of types of drinks that are offered. All of these things can cut down on the costs or the amount that an employee is going to drink, making it cheaper and safer for everyone involved. 

Who Should Speak?

Are you going to have a speaker at your event? Now, you should have someone from the company gets up and at least say a few words of appreciation to everyone for their hard work throughout the year and for everything they’ve done for the company.

This should be at the very least. On the other hand you could choose to have several speakers come in and talk to everyone, but it shouldn’t be about anything business related (other than to thank them for everything they've done).

You could invite your employees themselves to give speeches at the party. Just make sure that the speeches aren’t going to be too long and that the topic is going to be appropriate. You definitely don’t want your employees forced to stand around and wait for someone to get done with a long-winded speech. They’re supposed to be at this party to have some fun, and you want to make sure they have plenty of opportunity to do just that. Ask for an outline of what the speech will entail and then make sure that you give each speaker a time limit. 

Plan the Specifics

Okay, so you know you want to have a party. You may know now whether it’s going to be a lunch party or a full event. You may know a little about getting that planning committee involved too and the type of food and alcohol you’ll serve. But what else are you going to need to know? There are actually a number of different things to consider:

  • Who is invited? Just employees? Employees and their spouses? Are kids welcome?
  • Will the meal be plated or buffet style or just appetizers?
  • Where will the party be held if it’s in an event space?
  • When will the party be held? Set a date and a time.
  • Will there be music there either by a DJ, a musician or just playing through the space?
  • What kind of drinks or alcohol are you going to serve? Open bar? Select wine list? 
  • What’s the theme of the party? What kind of decorations are you going to put up?
  • How much are you going to spend on the entire event?
  • Who is going to give the speech? What are they going to say? 
  • Are you going to have a photographer? What kind of pictures should they be taking?

All of these questions are going to be important when you’re starting to plan that party, and that’s why it’s always a good idea to have a committee to help you along. They’re going to have no problem getting you moving along and answering each of these questions.

For one thing, a committee is going to get you motivated. After all, self-motivation can be a difficult one. For another, there’s more people involved to help make the decision. It can feel overwhelming when you’re going to do it entirely on your own.

Plan Your Best Company Holiday Party

So, if you’re looking to have a great holiday party it’s time you start looking at some of these questions and some of these steps. You can have a great time and you can really show your employees how important they are to you, but you’re going to need to get started.

That party is definitely not going to plan itself (even if you hire an event planner) so don’t miss out or let your employees miss out on something that is really meant to be all about them. 

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