With the holidays around the corner and many CEOs and HR departments are planning to host a lovely holiday-themed year-end celebration. Most companies have a tradition to host annual Christmas or holiday-themed events. After such a tough year, people also need to reconnect with their coworkers and enjoy time together.
When planning a corporate Christmas party, the goal should be to simultaneously plan an event that expresses its staff’s appreciation while being cost-effective. A simple holiday party can help the executive team boost company morale and start the new year off with a bang through this approach. Want to know how to plan the perfect corporate Christmas party? Here are some guidelines to help you in your quest:
Set a Budget
The first order of business is to set a budget for your corporate Christmas party. You have likely received an allocated amount from the company’s accountant or senior staff, and now you have to think about where you will spend your money. Are you hosting the party inside your actual office building, or will you host the party at an offsite location? Will you allow your staff to bring a plus 1? These decisions will affect your budget, so it is crucial to think about all of these decisions at the beginning of your planning process. The venue, menu, decor, and entertainment will be your main budget categories. On average, you will spend about 40% of your budget on the venue and budget, 10% on decor, and another 10% – 20% on entertainment. Rank the level of importance for each category and ask for help early – which brings us to the next point – recruit some help from your staff.
Recruit Some Help from Your Staff
Planning a corporate Christmas party is a great way to have fun with your coworkers, even before the party actually begins. Instead of taking on the responsibility of planning alone, recruit some help from your staff. Staff members can offer creative and fun ideas you may not even think about on your own. They can also execute tasks during the actual party, which will help you to cut down on labor costs. Just remember that planning the party will take staff members away from their regular work responsibilities, so be sure to schedule planning sessions with this in mind.
Choose a Theme
Is your company more of a regal “Winter Wonderland” type of crowd, or would an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party go over well with your guests? It is vital to choose a theme reasonably early on in the planning process because the decor, food, entertainment, and overall flow of the event will be influenced by this decision.
You can easily do a preliminary poll or survey at the beginning of the planning process to gather information about staff members’ interests. This way, you can create a theme that will go over well with the crowd and make them feel special. It is also important to note that the party should be an experience that is different from what employees experience in the office. No one really wants to go to a work party that feels similar to their 9-5 experience.
With the coronavirus pandemic still looming over the world, many companies are thinking of virtual options for holiday parties as well. SnackNation.com introduces tons of new ideas for companies that require ideas for themes and activities amid social distancing restrictions during this year’s holiday season. It would be wise to research several different themes that are also inclusive of social distancing options if attendees want to participate virtually.
Think About Dress Code Options
At this point, you should know whether your party has a more formal theme, a fun theme, or a mixture of both. This will help you to guide your guests on how to dress for the event. A formal event will require gowns and tuxedos, and depending on your crowd, they will enjoy an excuse to dress up and still be able to have fun. If you decide to do an Ugly Christmas Sweater party or a party that has a strong theme, the dress code has already been built-in for your guests.
If you host a less formal party at the office or the event time is right after the workday ends, guests should not be expected to dress up or make any additional concessions for attire. Overall, make sure you create a dress code that stays in line with the theme and allows guests to feel comfortable while still being festive.
Create the Menu
The menu is always one of the most essential elements for planning a corporate Christmas party. Whether you go buffet style, have passed hors d’oeuvres served throughout the night, or host a sit-down dinner, there should be a lot of thought put into the menu and drink options because outside of the venue cost, the menu is usually next in line in terms of expense. On top of that, guests will always pay attention to the food options and tend to be more comfortable socializing if they have a cocktail in hand. Make sure your menu options align with your overall theme. If your budget allows you room to use an event planner, ask for recommendations on having a great experience without breaking the bank.
When it comes to the food, you can cut costs by having fresh fruit and cheese platters stationed throughout your event space at the beginning of the event. You can also have themed snacks available for guests at the tables.
Liquor can also consume a considerable portion of your budget if not kept under control. One great way to save on alcohol is to have a beer or wine tasting with a local brewery or vineyard. Guests will enjoy trying a new brand of liquor or wine, and you will also have the benefit of supporting a local or small business, which is always wonderful, especially around the holidays. Either way, it is not a new concept to limit alcohol consumption at a corporate event. TheBalanceSMB.com gave us an excellent assessment on why and has said it best:
For years now, organizations have been limiting the alcohol at holiday parties for a variety of reasons. This cap is one of the easier ways to control the budget, and it limits distraction from the message of the event.
Still, most employees don’t want to attend a company party that doesn’t feature some form of alcoholic beverage. For this reason, you want to narrow your booze selection or even create cheap signature cocktails to reduce costs and keep intoxication levels down.
You might also consider limiting the menu to only wine, closing the bar early, or offering drinks only during the meal to help cut costs further and limit the risk of employees getting too rowdy at a company event. In any case, you should definitely check your insurance policy to make sure you’re covered if any issues arise from alcohol consumption.
Add Extra Sparkle to Your Event
If you’re hosting a holiday party that allows employees to bring their spouses or a special guest, we are here to bring the competitor out of you. You may be indirectly in competition with other corporate Christmas parties, and we want you to win. Add extra sparkle to your event by offering party favors or giving your bonuses out during the party. You can also give away gift cards and other presents for everyone.
Another idea for adding some sparkle to your event is to have raffles, trivia games, and silent auctions throughout the night. A photo booth is another way to bring guests together and give a physical token to preserve the day’s memory.
You can also have a charity initiative built into your event. Some companies collect toys and canned goods for a local shelter during their Christmas parties. Other companies work together to raise funds for local and national charities. Many organizations like the Make-A-Wish Foundation tend to receive funding for wishes around the holidays through fundraising galas and corporate Christmas parties. Reach out to a local charity and ask how you can make your event a fun way to give back.
Play Great Music
By now, you know that music and entertainment is the only way for us here at Entertainment Exchange! A great way to ensure your guests have a memorable time is to play great music. Music brings people from all walks of life together, and when done well, can help everyone loosen up and have a good time. Music is also another way to reinforce your theme. Popular Christmas songs, line dances, and classics are great ways to bring your Christmas party attendees together.
Hiring a professional live band or DJ will always be one of the easiest ways to ensure the music flows well throughout the night. This relieves the planning committee of the stress of creating a playlist or being responsible for keeping the energy going throughout the night. It also gives you the advantage of having an experienced professional manage that energy based on the special presentations and speeches you have planned within the program. Work with a booking agent to help you to find the best musicians in your area. If you need to tighten your purse strings and think hiring professional musicians may be outside your budget, think again. You can hire a smaller band with fewer pieces or hire a string duo if your event calls for this type of music. The opportunities are endless!
When you consider all of these elements, your corporate Christmas party is sure to be a hit with your coworkers and will most certainly set the tone for many years to come. Happy Holidays!
Photo Courtesy of Infinix Global Meetings & Events