The holiday season is here, so it’s time to plan the best company holiday party your company has ever seen. Whether it’s your first year planning or your tenth, there’s always something new to learn about planning a company-wide event.
We’ll cover everything from icebreaker activities to food, dessert, and cookie catering, as well as the logistics & planning required to pull off a successful event for your entire business.
With these tips, you’ll be the go-to party planner for years (maybe even outside your company, too).
1. Assess Your Company Size & Culture
Every company varies in size and internal culture, meaning these party planning tips will differ between small businesses and massive corporations.
So, start by assessing the size of your company. Is it a small startup with a few employees or a large corporation with hundreds or even thousands of staff members? This will determine where you need to host the party and how to think about logistics at scale.
Next, closely examine your company culture. Think about the values, traditions, and overall vibe within your organisation.
Are you more on the formal and professional side, or do you lean towards a more relaxed and informal atmosphere? If your normal attire is business professional, perhaps the party attire could lean towards business casual or even festive sweaters.
Sometimes, employees aren’t a fan of holiday parties. And oftentimes, it’s because nobody asks for their opinion. Consider setting up surveys or group chats to ask your employees what they’d like to see, do, eat/drink, and expect from a holiday party. Then, plan accordingly! This is especially important if the last few business events haven’t been much of a success.
2. Establish a Budget & Planning Timeline
Setting a realistic budget and solid plan is important—this will make everything organised and help create an awesome and unforgettable party. Start with what you know you have available – the budget, team, and already-purchased materials & party favours.
Based on the available resources, set a realistic budget for the event. Consider all relevant expenses, including venue rental, catering, decorations, entertainment, and additional activities or services. It's important to balance creating a memorable event and staying within budgetary constraints.
Pro Tip: Once you have your budget, set aside an additional 10% as an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses. Make a note of the surprise expenses for when you plan your next event.
Research vendors, venues, and service providers to collect a range of pricing & availability options. Compare costs, service quality, and customer reviews to ensure you're getting the best value for your money. Once you’ve established your budget, create a detailed planning timeline, and make sure not to procrastinate. Break down the planning process into smaller tasks and assign deadlines to each—this will help you stay organised and keep everything on schedule.
Be sure to include key milestones, such as booking the venue, finalising the menu, sending out invitations, and confirming entertainment.
3. Coordinate Logistics
The first decision is to select the location for your company holiday party. Consider factors such as convenience for attendees, accessibility, and the overall ambiance of the venue.
Depending on the size of your company and the number of attendees, you may choose to host the event at your office premises, rent a banquet hall, or even consider an off-site location like a restaurant with private rooms, a hotel, or a special event venue.
When determining the venue size, consider the number of expected attendees, the type of activities you have planned, and the desired seating arrangement. You want the venue to comfortably accommodate all guests and any additional equipment or decorations you plan to have. Even though not everyone invited will attend, always choose a space that can house everyone.
4. Decide on a Theme & Decorations
Picking a theme for your holiday bash can bring extra fun and set the mood for a great time. Think about themes that match your company culture or the holiday season. Whether it's a cool winter wonderland, a mysterious masquerade ball, or a festive carnival, choose a theme your employees will love.
Once you have chosen a theme, plan your decorations accordingly. From centrepieces and table settings to lighting and props, ensure that your decorations reflect the chosen theme and create a festive ambiance. Consider incorporating holiday-themed elements and colours to add a touch of cheer and warmth.
For decorating ideas, if you visit craft and party stores, they often have displays that showcase party themes and decorations. If renting a venue, ask if a complementary party planner is available to help with decorating ideas.
5. Pay Attention to Details
There are dozens of things to plan, coordinate, and execute to throw a successful holiday party. And though some details may seem insignificant, they can play a major role in the success of the event. Make sure to double-check aspects like the audio-visual setup if you plan to play music, have a guest speaker, or play a commemorative video. If it’s not at your place of work, make sure the venue offers ample parking or is close to public transportation routes. Choose a caterer that provides a diverse menu catering to dietary needs, with festive dishes and controlled dessert portions. Select a variety of beverages, mindful of venue alcohol policies. And if you’re hoping that everyone will socialise on their own; think again. Plan engaging activities such as icebreakers, team-building exercises, entertainment, interactive stations, and raffles to create a lively and memorable event.
6. Start Promoting the Event
Use internal notice boards and emails, hang up posters, and send engaging emails to all of the employees. Send digital invitations with all event details and an easy RSVP option. Leverage the company intranet and social media to create buzz, sharing updates and teasers. Engage department representatives to spread the word within teams and address queries. Offer incentives like gift cards or extra holiday days for early RSVPs or active participation, creating a sense of exclusivity and rewarding employee involvement, making the event a holiday season highlight.
7. Stick to Your Party Plan
With ample planning, your holiday party should be a hit. But in the event that you feel overwhelmed, be sure to stick to the plan. Stay organised and prepare yourself for unforeseen situations. On the day, have a clear schedule, ensure vendors know their roles, and assign a coordinator for oversight. Arrive early for setup, testing equipment, and ensuring everything is in place. Be ready for unexpected situations with contingency plans and designated problem-solving team members. Coordinate staff roles, including attendee guidance and activity management, with a pre-event briefing. Maintain the event's flow, adhering to timelines, and adjusting as needed. Ensure attendee satisfaction by interacting, monitoring experiences, and addressing feedback, much like newlyweds at a wedding. Collect feedback through surveys for future improvements to the company holiday party.
From assessing your company's size and culture to promoting the event and sticking to your plan, this comprehensive guide covers all the essential steps for planning a successful company holiday party. With detailed tips on logistics, themes, decorations, and attendee engagement, you're now equipped to create an unforgettable festive event that reflects your company's spirit and leaves employees with lasting memories.