For many employees, the annual office holiday party is the highlight of the year. The holiday season is a wonderful time of year anyway, and the chance to socialise with bosses and coworkers makes this time of year even more special.
Going to the annual holiday office party might be fun, but planning it is a lot of work. Many workers and even bosses do not fully appreciate the amount of hard work, creativity and dedication that goes into planning a fun office party for the employees of the company. If it is your job to plan this year’s celebration, you need to start early and do some out of the box thinking.
Start Planning Early
The annual office holiday party may not take place until November or December, but you can bet the planning get underway many months before the first snowfall. The most popular venues for office holiday parties are often booked many months in advance, so advance planning is absolutely essential. Whether you are planning a holiday party for a 10-person office or a company with thousands of employees, it is important to start as early as possible.
It is also important to think creatively and look for ways to make your party stand out. The holiday season is a busy time of year, and most of your employees will be attending plenty of events during the weeks and months leading up to the end-of-year holidays. Being creative and thinking differently can help make your office party the must-attend event of the year.
Get to Know Your Audience
Before you can start planning the perfect office holiday party, you need to know your audience. If you work in a tiny office with a handful of people, you probably already know plenty about them — including the names of their spouses and the ages of their children. You can use that information to plan the perfect party and make sure everyone who attends has a wonderful time.
The planning process becomes a lot harder when you work for a company with hundreds — or thousands — of employees. Even the most dedicated office manager cannot get to know that many people on a personal basis, so you might need to employ a technological solution instead.
Sending out a simple survey a few months in advance can help you get a feel for what employees are looking for in an office party. Asking a few key questions like what kinds of foods they like and whether or not they have children can make the planning process both easier and less stressful.
In addition to the survey data, you can gather some key information from your personnel records. From the ages of your employees to how long they have been with the company, this information can be very valuable as you plan the festivities. If the majority of your workforce is in their 20s and 30s, they would probably enjoy some dancing and lots of hip music. If your demographics skew older, a quieter affair may be better received.
Save the Date
It is not always easy to find a date that works for everyone, especially since people tend to be so busy at this time of year. When you send out your survey, you may want to include a space for preferred dates or take a poll on which of several dates would work best.
Once you have a date in mind, you will need to act fast to book a venue and make the rest of your plans. The holiday season is lots of fun, but it is also a time of frantic activity. Booking your chosen venue early is the best way to ensure a happy party for everyone involved.
Set a Budget
You might not want to think about money when planning a holiday party for the office, but you can be sure money is on the minds of your bosses. Before you get too deep into the planning process, you will want to set a budget that allows you to create a great celebration without breaking the bank.
Talk to your boss about the budget he or she has in mind, then work within the constraints of that budget. If the company has had office parties for their employees in the past, you will have some figures to go by when celebrating this year’s celebration. If not, you might need to do some checking and come back to your boss with a proposed budget for the party.
Choose a Venue
Anyone can schedule a holiday party at the local fire hall or country club. If you want to plan the perfect holiday party for your company and its employees, you will need to think a bit more creatively.
There are a number of alternative venues that will make your employees sit up and take notice – and make them more likely to attend. If you work for a creative company like an ad agency or a magazine, why not book a local art museum or gallery for the holiday party? The attendees will get after-hours access to a great venue, and the art on the walls will inspire them as they dance, dine and socialise.
If you have a lot of sports fans on the payroll, consider booking a luxury box at the local AFL or Cricket stadium. The sports fans who attend the office party will be thrilled, and everyone else will love the pampering and the great food.
If the town where you live sets up a seasonal ice skating rink, ask the managers of the rink about renting the facility for your holiday party. Everyone can strap on their skates, hit the ice and make some wonderful holiday memories.
If you are lucky enough to live in a part of the country where the holiday season is warm, you can rent a local park or even the pavilion at an amusement park. This option is particularly great if the holiday party will include the workers’ kids.
Establish the Ground Rules
Speaking of kids, it is important to set the ground rules well in advance so everyone who attends the party knows what to expect and what is expected. If you want to keep the party adults only, be sure the invitation states that information clearly. If kids are welcome, state that explicitly as well. You want everyone who plans to attend the party to understand exactly who is — and is not — welcome to attend.
If you plan to serve alcohol at your office holiday party, you should state that in your invitation as well. Alcohol can make a holiday party more fun, but there is an implicit understanding that employees should not drink to excess or drive home while under the influence. Be sure your invitations also specify whether the party will include a cash bar or an open one.
Set Up an Arts and Crafts Table
Planning an office holiday party can be more of a challenge if you plan to include kids in the celebration. An office party that is fun and engaging for the adults could be extremely boring for young kids, so you will need to go the extra mile to keep them entertained.
Setting up an arts and crafts table where the kids can make holiday gifts for their parents is a great way to fight the boredom and keep the youngest party guests entertained. You can pick up the materials you need at the local craft store or order them from the company where you get your office supplies.
Choose an Assortment of Door Prizes
Everyone loves to be a winner, so you will want to have plenty of door prizes on hand for the party attendees. The door prizes do not have to be expensive or elaborate. Simple items work just as well.
Once you have a headcount for your annual office party, you can start picking up small gifts here and there. Once the gifts are bought and wrapped, all you have to do is give everyone who attends a ticket — or leave a ticket with each place setting at the table.
Have Fun Contests
You can make your annual employee office party even more fun by holding contests throughout the night. From karaoke contests to bingo games, there are plenty of ways to keep everyone entertained and let them win some great prizes.
You can pick up the prizes for these fun contests when you are shopping for the door prizes. Since these are competitive awards, they should be a bit more elaborate than the door prizes, but they do not have to be expensive.
Set Up a Gift Exchange
If your office holds a gift exchange or Secret Santa program, you can make the holiday party the setting for the big reveal. Just ask everyone who participates in the gift exchange or Secret Santa to bring their gift to the venue. Set up an elaborately decorated table at the back of the room where everyone can admire the wrapping paper and big bows on the packages.
When everyone has eaten and enjoyed their first couple of drinks, you can make an announcement that the time has come. Gather everyone around the gift table and let them see who their special Santa Claus is this year.
Whether you are planning a holiday party for a small office or a company with hundreds of employees, you will need to bring all your creativity and resources to the table. Once the planning is done, however, you can kick back, relax and enjoy some holiday fun with your colleagues and coworkers. You spend a large amount of your day with the people you work with — and getting an annual opportunity to socialise and have some fun is a wonderful thing.