Are you planning a company holiday party and want to know how to pull off an amazing event with less stress? As corporate holiday party planning is in full swing, many like you are working to create memorable year-end gatherings. You are not alone if you feel a bit uncertain about keeping it all together.
Because there are so many moving parts that go into arranging a holiday gathering, we’ve put together an easy-to-follow outline of the essential steps to take. Event planning is not linear, but by referring to these guidelines, you’ll be well on your way to accomplishing a joyful holiday party for all and will feel less stressed about the whole thing!
When to Start Planning Your Holiday Party
Before we get into the details of the planning process, let’s talk about the optimal timeline for getting started. Without any doubt, the more time you allow, the less stressful it will be. The added time will also make it easier to secure the venue and any other details you want. According to our recent survey, most event planners begin holiday party planning 1-3 months before.
1. Establish the Holiday Party Goals
Before anything, start with determining the goals of the holiday party. Making sure you understand the desired result and expectations will help you choose the components of your event.
Here are some numerous benefits that corporate holiday parties can achieve:
- Build on the company’s culture
- Recognize company successes and express gratitude to employees
- Build stronger interdepartmental relationships
- Improve morale
- Align goals
- Celebrate and just have fun with the entire team
2. Determine the Event-planning Team
Next, make sure you identify the stakeholders in the holiday party planning. These are the key players who will provide you with guidance and help you make decisions. Is it the CEO? Someone in Marketing? Perhaps it is also a team member in Human Resources? Maybe you need to include departmental representatives?
Once you’ve settled on who will make up the party planning committee, you’ll want to bring the team together, assign tasks, make decisions, and ensure that communication is clear. Communication naturally combats the stresses of planning.
3. Agree on a Budget
Sometimes a budget is set for you, but in other cases, you might need to inquire with your event planning team members and figure out what money you have to spend. Your budget is crucial in making decisions about the components of your holiday event like your venue, transportation, food, alcohol, entertainment, and gifts. Some sound advice to follow for budgeting are:
- 1. Determine the maximum budget
- 2. Rank the components of the party by priority (venue, food and beverage, entertainment, decorations, raffle prizes, etc.)
- 3. Assign funds based on priority
- 4. Make sure you have excess funds as a contingency
4. Settle on your Guestlist
Who at your company will be invited to your holiday event party? Make sure all of your employees feel involved and included. If your company has multiple locations or remote employees, you will need to consider making arrangements for these employees to attend your company’s holiday party in person or provide alternative options that make them feel included. When developing your guest list, make the decision if you are also going to allow employees to invite a plus one.
5. Decide on the Type of Holiday Party
Early in the planning process, brainstorm and ultimately decide on what type of holiday event you will hold.
Here is a quick list to get you thinking:
- At-work celebration
- After hours party
- Formal event
- Casual get-together
- Themed event
- Activity-centered event
- Party package
6. Explore Venues
While there is a lot to think about in selecting a venue, use available tools that help out. EventUp is the leading directory of event, private dining, and catering options. You can filter based on budget, size, amenities, and more. It makes planning easier and less stressful.
Once you have a short list of venues, arrange to see them in person or view online tours to present options to the event team for a decision. Go over with your team and negotiate contracts with the venues.
7. Choose a Date and Time
You’ll want to choose a date and time as soon as you can. The holidays are prime time for busy schedules and traveling. Make sure you prioritize people’s personal and work schedules and if it will be convenient for them to attend. Perhaps survey your employees to understand their availability.
When working with potential venues, recognize that the earlier you book, the more options you will have. Consider off-peak days and times as well.
8. Plan the Menu
Most holiday events have food and beverages. When planning the menu, you’ll need to consider a variety and options. Will you serve alcohol and also what dietary restrictions will you need to accommodate? How much food should you serve? Here are some format ideas for food and beverage:
- Sit-down dinner
- Catered food
- Food trucks
- Custom holiday menu
- Open bar or drink tickets
- Cash bar
- Just beer and wine
- No alcohol
- Holiday-themed cocktails
9. Plan the Ambiance
How your event space feels will impact the guests. Consider what ambiance it will have. Will you have holiday decorations, entertainment, or something else?
If you are having your party at a venue, most likely they will decorate their space for you. Entertainment including music really makes a large impact whether you play a Spotify playlist or hire a DJ. If your holiday is a chance to thank your employees, how will you present awards or accolades? Want to add a festive holiday activity? Consider a wine and cheese tasting experience, a centerpiece DIY activity, a holiday raffle, or a fun-spirited photobooth.
10. Arrange Transportation
Whether the employees are all local or you have to arrange for travel for out-of-towners, make sure you consider transportation in your holiday planning. Help employees with airfare and hotels, as well as be responsible for riding to and from the event. You might consider Uber, hiring a bus, or providing an easy way for employees to carpool. If you think about these details and help employees, there will be fewer problems leading up to and at the event itself.
11. Take Care of the Extras
Make sure you’ve covered the extras and any related vendors. Do you want to hire a photographer? Are any people speaking at the event? Do you need Audio Visual? Do you need to purchase swag or gifts? Can you entice people on your team to help you with extras? Can you put together a timeline of the event so that you can keep track of the details?
12. Send Invitations
The last step in planning your work holiday party is to send out save the dates and holiday invitations. You can do this by sending out a company-wide email, hanging posters at the office, and messaging on a chat platform. You should provide the date, time, venue, directions, parking information, recommended attire, and a basic outline of the event.
Make sure you give the employees lots of notice so they can plan their schedules. Less stress for people means less stress for you. You can do this by sending out a company-wide email, hanging posters at the office, and messaging on a chat platform. Ensure you get the word out so everyone knows about your company’s holiday party.
Are you ready to get started?
Now that you are set up with clear steps to take in planning a corporate holiday event, you are ready to begin! Check out EventUp, the leading global venue marketplace, for your venue search. EventUp makes finding a holiday event space of any type or size easy. From bowling alleys to concert venues and everything in between, EventUp has what every event planner is looking for.