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Planning a Company Holiday Party: 10 Questions That Lead to Success

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company holiday party entrance after using company holiday party checklistThere’s planning the regular annual office holiday party, and then there’s planning a successful company holiday party that everyone wants to attend. If you want to plan the latter, we’ve compiled a checklist of questions to ask that lead you to a successful company holiday party that people can’t wait to RSVP for.

What is the goal of our holiday party?

Sadly, having fun is not specific enough.  What is the goal of your party? To show appreciation to your employees? Giving your company employees a networking opportunity? Bring your employees and their families together as a token of gratitude?  The goal of your holiday party dictates every step of your company holiday party planning: guest list, venue, date and time, theme, cuisine, favors, etc.

What is the guest list?

Before you decide any details, put together a guest list so you have approximate head count to expect.  This number is vital in deciding your holiday party venue, discussions with the caterer, budget, etc.

What is the budget?

Set a budget appropriate for the size of your party and goals.  Breakdown your budget into categories so you have an adequate amount for each area of your party and are not crunching funds for vital elements of your party planning.

Can we hold it off site? What is the holiday party venue for our party?

Your guest list, budget, and location should be taken into consideration when choosing your party venue.  If you need to keep your venue in budget, consider holding your holiday party during off-season or on a weekday night or for a Sunday brunch.

To accommodate your guests, and increase your attendance, consider the location of your venue and transportation options.  Choose a venue near public transportation for a weekday holiday party, or with parking for an afternoon or evening out with family. To increase favorable RSVPs, research unique venues that catch the attention of your guests, such as a historic setting (for a formal or family party) or a family event venue your guests want to attend.

What date works best for our company and employees?

Factor in your busy season, and the schedule of your employees when choosing the right date for your company holiday party.  The ideal date depends on your goal and guest list; there are three common approaches to choosing a date and time:

  • January or February party. Want to wait until after the crazy holiday season, both for your business, budget, and for the sake of your employees? Set a date for your corporate holiday party in January or February.
  • A longer party for bigger crowds. If you’re worried about having staff to answer phones through the day, or have a larger crowd but don’t want to book a large venue for your hundreds or thousands of employees, hold a holiday party open house with festivities that last throughout the afternoon and early evening. You’ll not only save money on venue rental but your employees appreciate the option to come when it works best for them.
  • Afternoon party or luncheon. Consider a luncheon at a venue outside of your company. Book a venue for an “off day”—a week day when events are typically not held—during the afternoon when venues offer discounted rates. Host a simple, professional party or a more casual affair during the work day.

What is the theme of the company holiday party?

Along with budget, a theme is vital to company holiday party planning because it gives direction to almost every element of your party planning (find ideas for your holiday party theme here). From themed décor to food, don’t miss an opportunity to create a wonderful holiday party atmosphere.

What are our cuisine needs?

Your menu choices depend on so many different holiday party details such as theme, party date and time, and expected guest list.  When choosing a menu, take the opportunity to incorporate your theme, such as gingerbread cookies as part of Santa’s workshop.

Are we serving alcohol?

This holiday party decision is not as simple as it sounds; there can be liability and risk concerns.  If you are considering serving alcohol, discuss your options and risk with your venue staff.  They can give you information, or connect you to a knowledgeable party that can outline the issue.

What are our holiday party entertainment needs?

Whether your guest list is employee-only or a family event, consider the entertainment needs of your guests.  For a family event, consider elves to help with cookie decorating or passing out presents to your youngest guests.

Is our company giving out gifts or favors?

Dependent upon your budget and holiday party goals, gifts or favors can be a fantastic show of appreciation.  Be strategic about your gifts or favors; tie them into your holiday party theme in some way.  If you need ideas, be sure to talk to your venue event planners.  Experienced staff members can give you ideas of what they’ve seen at other parties.