The Company Holiday Party Checklist (Part I)

Renaissance Place1The task of planning the company holiday party comes with an event planning checklist rivaling most large weddings—even when trying to simplify. In fact, there are so many factors to consider when throwing a company holiday party that we had to break it down in multiple blog posts.

Company atmosphere, number of employees, budget and holiday traditions dictate the type of company holiday party thrown, but companies have many options for hosting their party, and factors to consider along the way:

Date. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? With a company holiday party, it’s not that simple. Today’s event planners have options for party dates that go beyond the traditional December evening cocktail party:

  • January or February party. Want to wait until after the crazy holiday season? Consider a winter gathering in January or February.
  • A longer party for bigger crowds. If you’re worried about having staff to man the 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 an “open gingerbread house” holiday party with festivities that last throughout the day. 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 the corporate headquarters. Sure we all love to be able to duck back to our desks to check our voicemails, but a company holiday party should be your employees’ chance to get away from the office. 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.

Attendance Policy.  This is a quandary ever company has faced: how do you handle attendance at a company holiday party? The simple reality is that not every employee is comfortable attending, and it has nothing to do with their feelings for the company. Another reason why an employee may not be able to attend is logistics, such as finding a babysitter, or scheduling if they have other commitments at that time. There are a few different policies companies have used to handle attendance:

  • This is a policy many companies use, especially if the party is planned during the day, but not recommended by most event planners.
  • Work or attend. If hosting a party during the work day, many companies give employees the option to stay at the office and work or attend the gathering. If this is the option your company chooses, make sure that everyone who wants to attend can and no one is left behind.
  • Employees’ choice. Employees can choose to attend, or not attend.

Alcohol. If holding a holiday party during the work day, or if hosting a luncheon where employees are expected to return to work, every company can choose to limit or choose not to have alcohol at the party. Don’t feel obligated to have alcohol at your event, but don’t be afraid to serve alcohol either. Make sure the decision is approved by your top managers, and your legal counsel.

There’s so much more to consider when planning your holiday party. Check back for Part II of the checklist for company holiday party planning.