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The Company Holiday Party Checklist (Part II)

310490_10150434622281803_1655992384_nPlanning your ideal company party is a big job with a long checklist of details to plan, so extensive that this blog post is a continuation of our original post The Company Holiday Party Checklist. In our last post, we discussed picking the date and time of day that works best for your employees, and your business. Remember, the holiday party is supposed to be about team-building and appreciation, so you want to make sure that every detail puts your employees, and their families, in the holiday spirit:

Theme. A holiday party without a theme is an event without direction. Decide on a theme, and use it to plan your refreshments, decorations and entertainment, even if you use it in subtle ways.

Food. Food is an integral part of every party, with many different options:

  • Finger food/appetizers. If your party is being held in mid-afternoon, a luncheon, or a late evening affair, make your party an assortment of finger food and appetizers that fit with your holiday theme.
  • Holding a luncheon or evening cocktail hour? Treat your employees to a full buffet to show them you care. A buffet is also suitable for a holiday party where your employees are coming in shifts, making it easy to keep the food warm while still providing food for everyone.
  • Traditional meal. The traditional sit-down meal is always appreciated, whether you are hosting your employees and their significant others for an evening affair or for a luncheon. If you are shutting down your business for a mid-day luncheon, a sit-down meal ensures that everyone gets lunch and can head back to the office.

Transportation. Book a venue with parking so your employees don’t have to pay for parking. This is a small (and often unnoticed) way to show appreciation for your employees.

Entertainment. Your entertainment for the event depends on the type of event you are holding. A 45-minute speech by your president is corporate entertainment, but does not always enhance that holiday atmosphere. If you are hosting a simple or small gathering, carolers or a Santa Claus are simple ways to create a festive mood. For a large gathering, contact a booking agent about selecting the right entertainers for your event.

Gifts. Don’t feel you have to give gifts to your employees, but don’t break tradition either. If your company has traditionally given out gifts, continue the tradition or communicate with your employees about your plans for this year before the holiday party. Want to create a new, charitable corporate holiday party tradition? Put a giving tree with requested gifts for local children in need up a few weeks before in your office. Have your employees bring the gifts to the party, and place them under a tree. Another option: hold a food or toy drive, and have your employees bring their donations. This is a way to show you are a giving corporate member of the community. DON’T forget to show appreciation to your employees for making it happen.

If your holiday party planning checklist is the length of Santa’s gift list, contact a venue with event planners on staff. Having an event planner from the venue allows your company to have a single contact before and during the party. A designated event planner also frees up your employees to enjoy the party, each other’s company and the appreciation of a job well done.

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.