How to Plan for a Work Holiday Party


A handful of holidays are approaching, so it’s time for fun, seasonal activities! If you are planning a company holiday party, it can come with a lot of responsibility. To ensure your party is enjoyable for everyone, you need to fulfill all your employees’ party needs. Your checklist can seem daunting, from budget to entertainment to party decor. If you’re unsure where to begin, start with these seven steps to ensure your work party runs smoothly.

Select a Date and Time

The first step to planning any event is to choose a date and time that works best for you and your guests. Since many people travel during the holidays, plan your work event at least two months in advance to avoid any conflicts. Try aiming for a date in early- December or mid-January when your guest’s calendars are more available. Once you find the perfect date, decide if you want your party to take place during work hours, after work, or on the weekend.

Each choice has its benefits, so consult your guests on which time of the day they prefer. If your company has flexible break times or offers early release, throwing a party during a workday is your choice. Having a party can ensure your employees can celebrate without worrying about commuting to a venue. Meeting after hours or on the weekend can provide your employees escape from the work environment, inviting them to have fun and relax more easily.

Determine Your Budget

It can be easy to get carried away while planning your big holiday event. Every company wants to make their work party memorable, but it’s essential not to break the bank in the process. Solidifying a budget before putting money towards your party can help make sure you don’t overspend. Work with your boss or manager to create a budget you can afford. After you finalize a total amount, start breaking down your budget into smaller amounts for each party’s needs.

While developing your budget, start with the areas that will cost you the most. For example, if your event is after hours, invest a good chunk of your budget in your venue of choice. Then you can start with how much money you can spend at this venue on food, drinks, and entertainment. Try not to skimp out on the amount of money you put towards gifts or employee recognition awards. After all, your holiday party is to treat your fellow employees.

Book a Venue

The place you choose to entertain your guest can make or break your party. While selecting a venue, consider a location that is easy to navigate. If you live in a city, try picking an area near public transportation or offering transportation services such as Uber, so all your guests can come. Select a location less than 30 minutes from your office to make it more cost-effective. Make sure your venue is accessible and desirable to your guests by viewing the space beforehand.

Select a venue that accommodates everyone to ensure your employees and their guests enjoy the party. If most of your guests bring family members, make sure your forum is kid-friendly. If your employees want more competitive activities, consider having your holiday party at an arcade or bowling alley. Make sure there is room for everyone by creating a guest list before booking the location. Once you find a venue that works best for you, book it quickly before it’s gone.

Pick Your Menu

Now it’s time to talk about the main event- food. If you are hosting your party anywhere besides a restaurant, you must hire a caterer to provide food for your guests. Choose a caterer you know everyone will enjoy by planning meals with your team beforehand. Once you’ve determined a cuisine everyone will enjoy, decide which dinner style best fits your holiday party theme.

If your party is more of a sit-down event, consider serving a full meal to keep your guest seated and focused on the entertainment. If you are planning an event that requires physical activity, it may be easier to serve your guests buffet style. This style makes it easier for guests to grab their food on the go and get back to their activities. Whichever culinary format you choose, provide alternative options for those who may have dietary restrictions. If you are serving dishes containing popular food allergies such as nuts or gluten, make it known by providing signs that list the ingredients included.

Choose your entertainment

There’s nothing better than dinner and a show. Keep your guests entertained by providing them with entertainment throughout their party. An easy way to provide entertainment could be a group activity or icebreaker. If you want to stick to a holiday theme, try incorporating the holiday into the games. For example, if you are throwing a Santa-themed party, provide trivia questions asking you to name all of Santa’s reindeer.

Consider renting out games such as bag toss or darts for more interactive entertainment. Collaborate games can help form relationships and bonding experiences with your employees. If you want to go the musical route, rent a local band or DJ to keep the party energized. Setting up a staging area can also be a platform to make speeches or hand out awards by the end of the event.

Purchase Decorations and Party Favors

Don’t skimp out on your holiday decor. Go with decorations to make your event memorable and unique for your guests. If your climate doesn’t reflect a winter wonderland, create your own by dimming the lights and turning on battery-operated candles. Who needs actual snow when you have cotton balls and shredded white paper? The more creative you get, the more you can save.

What’s a party without party favors? A party favor can be anything from a bag of sweet goodies to a $25 gift card. If you have a small number of employees, consider giving each employee a personalized holiday card. As long as you show your employees you are thinking of them during the holidays, any gift will show your appreciation.

Celebrate Your Employees

Your business wouldn’t be successful without the hard work of your team. Show appreciation for your employees by recognizing team and individual success. Employee recognition can be done in many ways, most commonly through a speech at the beginning or end of the event. Some key notes to highlight in your speech include announcing outstanding achievements, goals, and improvement areas. Present employees that worked above and beyond with gifts or rewards to make the moment special.

While celebrating your employees, make sure all your workers are included. Employees that work remotely can often feel left out of social events. If possible, try live streaming your events so team members outside of the city or state can still celebrate with their team. If you are handing out awards and gifts, mail them out to those who couldn’t attend in person.

Enjoy Your Evening

It can be easy to get lost in the moment of perfecting all the details of your party that you forget to enjoy the party yourself. Follow the checklist above so you can join your employees in celebrating the holiday season. If you’re still unsure what to include in your event, consider the work parties you’ve been to and incorporate the parts you enjoyed. Spread happiness and joy this holiday season with a party your employees will never forget.

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Featured Image Credit: Photo by Nicole Michalou; Pexels; Thank you!

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