Planning a company holiday party is not for the faint of heart—but it is a task for the incredibly organized. We’ve been part of many company holiday parties (and have planned our fair share as event planners); we know that company holiday party planning can feel larger than the spirit of the holidays. That’s why we’ve put together a comprehensive corporate holiday party planning checklist that can organize the task and provide the assistance needed for a memorable (and hopefully jolly) company holiday party.
____Goal/Type of Event. The first step in company holiday party planning is determining the goal, type of event (that fulfills the goal), and guest list. Would you like to host an employee-only luncheon? A formal adults-only event for employees and their significant others? A family-friendly company holiday party brunch? The simple step of setting goals and a target guest list can help with the next steps of company holiday party planning.
____Venue. Once the type of company holiday party is determined, choose a company holiday party venue nearby that checks off all the boxes: appropriate for the type of event (i.e. formal for an adults-only company holiday party or employee luncheon), secure location, convenient for parking and public transportation, sized appropriately for the guest list, budget-friendly. Contact local company holiday party venues to get a quote and ensure that the company holiday party venue meets every need and can provide appropriate amenities, such as staffing and parking.
____Date. The right company holiday party date is dependent on the nature of the business and type of company holiday party. For example, a weekend brunch is the ideal setting for a family-friendly gathering for employees and their families. If winter is a slow time for regular company business, schedule an employee lunch for mid-day or late afternoon (or an open-house where employees can drop in as available). To narrow dates, use one of two company holiday party planning strategies:
- Holiday season. A company holiday party scheduled in November and December capitalize on the essence of the holiday spirit. The only disadvantage is that attendance may be decreased due to the many personal and professional holiday commitments. (Budget-friendly tip: schedule a company holiday party during an “off day,” a weekday when venues are typically not booked, to get a discounted rate. Contact a local company holiday party venue for rate information.)
- Post-holiday season. A post-holiday company party, scheduled in January and February, are a popular option among guests because they have fewer holiday obligations. After-holiday parties can also be a budget-friendly option as many holiday party venues offer discounts during this off-peak season.
____Theme. Choose a holiday party theme that is in line with company holiday party goals, such as Santa’s workshop for a family-friendly holiday party. A holiday party theme gives the event direction and plays a key role in choosing décor, refreshments, and holiday party favors.
____Invitations. When selecting the right method of invitation distribution, consider the guest list and most appropriate manner for notifications. A digital invitation is a convenient and comprehensive way to reach the office staff. Paper invitations are a highly effective method for generating RSVPs to a family-friendly gathering. If the guests are younger, brainstorm ideas for a new-age digital invite. Whatever the method, design an invitation that sets the tone for the event. Be cognitive of the theme and appropriate information for the occasion.
____Food. The type of event determines the amount and timing of company holiday party treats, such as appetizers or a meal. The extent of the food served can vary from a course of appetizers to a full sit-down meal. The type of dinner service (i.e. buffet, sit-down, family style) should fit the occasion, such as a full sit-down meal for a formal company holiday party.
____Transportation. Book a venue with parking so your employees don’t have to pay for the convenience. This is a small way to show appreciation for your employees.
____Entertainment. The possibilities for company holiday party entertainment are endless: carolers, a holiday show, speech, Father Christmas, comedians. The right holiday party entertainment suits the occasion and the guest list.
____Alcohol. If holding a holiday party during the work day, or if hosting a luncheon where employees are expected to return to work, a company can choose to limit or choose not to have alcohol at the party. Don’t feel obligated to have alcohol at the company holiday party. If doing so, make sure the decision is approved by top managers and legal counsel.
____Favors. Company holiday party favors depend on the guest list and type of occasion. Favors can vary from a small hot cocoa gift basket to as large as a company bonus. A recent company holiday party trend is to return the favor as well, by having employees bring items to donate to a local charity (i.e. food for a local food bank, books for a children’s charity, etc.) If this option is chosen, don’t neglect to add a show of appreciation to employees for their contributions.