19 Dec Tips for a Company Holiday Party
A business party can be a great deal of fun, or it can be a disaster that gets talked about in the wrong way for years to come. And since I take it that you’re the business owner here, it’s probably your job to either take care of it it all, or at least give someone the directions to do so. Whether it’s your first time organizing a holiday-themed party for your employees, or you’re a seasoned party-planner, I recommend you check out these few simple tips that will help you put some life in the event. Let’s make everyone remember it — and for all the good reasons.
Just like any other business plan, even a party starts with budgeting. The more money you put in it, the better the party will eventually get – but it’s not a golden rule. Big corporate events often take place at fancy oyster houses or expensive bars. The big ones usually throw the party in such a manner so that mainly the high corporate management is satisfied for the businesses’ money. However, you’re much closer to your employees, and you should know best what kind of venue and catering and general idea of a party will suit your team best. So again – be generous, but don’t worry about not being good enough. The party is about the fun in the first place.
It’s up to you whether you’ll give your employees extra hours off and have the party during the usual working hours, or if you choose to do a holiday-themed brunch, lunch or dinner. It’s also possible to make a weekend event, but for that I recommend a) ask your employees first if they think it’s a good idea and b) if they do, announce the date well in advance.
The holiday season is usually packed with parties and family events, so the sooner you start discussing dates and planning, the better chance for everyone to attend.
The options for an office party location are endless – you can organize it in the workplace directly, but I would strongly recommend going outside to a private room in a local favorite restaurant, pay for a bowling alley or a game house, or just book a few tables at a bar downtown. The location should be easily accessible to everyone, and if an overnight stay is necessary, provide your employees with some housing options – whether you pay for it or not depends on your initial budget.
This is where the fun starts! If you ask me, relaxed atmosphere and good food are the two main ingredients for a good time (including a drink or two if you prefer), but adding a little something something may spice up the party and give it an unexpected spin. Here’re a few of ideas off the top of my head:
- Photo Booth with Party Props — most people love taking pictures, and they love it even more if they get to use some hilarious props, holiday-themed or otherwise. You don’t even need to hire a professional photographer, today’s smartphone cameras can do the trick as well. You can then pay for having the photos printed and framed.
- Gift Exchange — set a price limit and offer everyone to participate in the “Mystery Santa” gift exchange. Everybody who brings a gift gets one in exchange, without knowing who it’s from. I’ve done this a few times and laughs are guaranteed.
- Ugly sweater contest — this is almost a national tradition, so why not make it a part of your holiday party? It’s fun, and it underlines the casual atmosphere.
- Reimbursement — A friend of mine once told me that her employer offered a $150 compensation because she wasn’t able to attend the company party. An unusual practice, but it speaks volumes about how much an employee is really appreciated.
Depending on the location, you can traditionally choose between the in-house service or hire an external catering provider. Always discuss this with the venue owner first. Also, don’t forget that this is a party for your employees, not yourself. Maybe send an e-mail around, asking everyone for their most and least favorite food, allergies, whether they prefer vegan options etc. Again, depending on the place and the type of event, think about the way the food will be served (a buffet, a traditional dinner, a tasting etc.). No party is a good party if you’re hungry or if the food is gross. I’d call that a deal breaker.