July 31, 2019

Industry Insights: Corporate Holiday Party Planning

August may seem like the time to focus on back to school, end of season sales, and getting ready for your off-tourist-season travels, but really, you should be thinking about the holidays.

Specifically, how your company or team will celebrate the holidays (if you have not already started the process that is).

We know, the end of the fiscal year is near, and most likely your boss (or you, if you are the boss) is most concerned with the state of affairs within the company as a whole. And while yes, this is extremely important and should be a top priority, so should employee’s morale.

From promoting a sense of community to showing appreciation, hosting a company holiday party can make a huge impact, especially when done right.

So here are our tips for planning the most epic holiday party your company has ever seen.

1. Start at the end.
What is the vision you have for your party? Will it be a formal event to recognize and honor employees’ efforts or do you want to offer a huge bash to completely blow off steam? Maybe you want to find the middle of the road, in hopes to inspire employees, or urge them to think outside of the box. Having a clear vision of your event must be step one to ensure the most successful event possible.

2. Determine a budget.
This was likely predetermined when planning for the fiscal year, but it is extremely important to understand what your budget is before getting into details. There are a few elements that we definitely recommend including in your event, while other areas you may be able to reduce spending.

3. Finalize the date & venue.
These two might be contingent on one another, or one may be non-negotiable. Consider your vision you developed with step one when choosing the date and venue. If you want people to let loose, wait until after any major deadlines. Recognitions are nice to give prior to any time off, allowing them to reflect positively before returning to the office. The venue is also extremely important in adding to the overall feel of the event. Depending on the venue and what’s included you may be able to save some money on decor and/or rental items.

4. Send out save the dates.
Make sure your event is well attended by giving employees plenty of notice. If they will be allowed to invite family members or spouses, now is a good time to let employees know. They do not need details, but everyone should have the date on the calendar with plenty of notice.

5. Consider decor & unique characteristics.
What is taking this event to the next level? How are you inspiring employees and motivating them? Why is this is a company they are happy to work for? Take some time to plan entertainment for the event, and add any wow-factors (while staying on-brand and true to your theme, of course). If you have live music, consider bringing in a dance instructor to provide a short lesson for those interested. Offer an interactive element whether it is a game, activity, or even a photo booth. Will there be food? Ensure the menu is appropriate for the time of day and length of the event. If there is an open bar, or any bar really, you should absolutely provide a food option.

6. Add an element of surprise.
In addition to fun decor and activities, we highly recommend you add one additional surprise to really end on a high note. Maybe you have a unique gift for everyone, or better yet, perhaps you provide everyone a bonus if you had a particularly great year. If that is out of budget, maybe you consider a special performance, it could even be someone in house if they are willing to share their talents. Having one aspect of the event go above and beyond will have employees walking away saying “Wow! That was a great party and I am so glad I went!”

7. End on a high note.
An appropriately timed event with a steady flow of entertainment and engagement is key. You do not want the event to drag on, or for people to leave too early. We recommend having the party last no more than three hours, including all additional elements. A great way to wrap up the evening is to have the CEO (or whoever is in charge) say a quick thank you to all who attended, with a special shout out to the planner. This is also a great time to mention any gifts for guests or ride sharing options that may be available. By having someone address the party coming to an end, it gives people a clear direction and understanding there is nothing more to see here.

We know that if you follow these few steps, you will have all the elements necessary to host a great company event.

And if you are still lost, or too busy, or determined to make this the best party your employees have ever experienced, we are here to help!