Planning an office event is a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to be stressful! With these eight tips, you’ll have tricks up your sleeve to help you put together the best holiday party your company has ever had. 

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Put together a party planning committee. 

     It’s important to ask the right people to plan your holiday party. It is never a good idea to leave the planning to a single person, but having too many people on a team can be disastrous as well. While there is no set number of members this events team can have, a general rule of thumb is to avoid teams of more than 10 people. Clearly, smaller companies require fewer people on the team, while behemoth businesses may get to ignore the under-ten rule. 

     Including members from different areas of the company and seniority levels can create a more diverse team. It is wise to change up the team every so often to give others the opportunity to set up events. Elections for committee members at the end of “terms” can be a great way to get everyone in the company involved with the decision. Once you have your team, make sure to divide up responsibilities evenly among them to make sure all the work gets done. Give the planning committee a budget to stick to, explain what questions they need answers for, and let them get to work!

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Determine what vibe you want the party to have.

     There are so many types of parties it can be overwhelming to pick one. The main questions to ask are: Is this party going to be formal or informal? Do we want a sit down meal or a more casual eating setup? Do we want the party to have a theme or dress code? and What type of entertainment do we want to have? (more on that later).

     Once these questions have been answered by the committee, choosing a venue, menu, and set of activities becomes much easier.

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Choose a venue.

    Once you know how you want your party to feel, you can select a venue to match. If the party planning committee decided on an informal dress code and laid back activities, you probably don’t want to book a high-end, sit-down restaurant. Try to find venues close to the office or central to your guests to make it convenient for everyone to get there. Make sure the venue is appropriately sized for the guest list you have, and check on their decorations policies if you were planning to get creative. 

Check out our top picks for venues near DC!

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Choose a Menu.

     As far as menus go, the options are almost endless. You must decide if you want the party catered, held at a restaurant, or if you want to go the potluck route. No matter what you pick, you need to make sure that there are options suitable for all guests. Check for allergies and dietary restrictions to ensure that everyone can safely attend your event and enjoy their meal. If you decide to have the event catered or held at a restaurant and there are limited options for meals, send out invites and have your guests respond with what meal they would like so that the kitchen is prepared. If a potluck is a better fit for your event, create a signup sheet to avoid duplicate dishes.

Check out our catering options if you’re looking for a BBQ menu that is sure to be a crowd pleaser:

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Set the date.

    If you want a large majority of your employees to attend the holiday party, ask for their input on the date and time. Is there a day that works best for everyone? To find out, send out emails with date options, create a poll or survey, or start a shared spreadsheet where everyone can give their preference. You should also look at time of day when planning your party. Do you want the event to be held during work hours, at lunch, or after the company closes for the day? Keep in mind that this decision can also affect who can and cannot attend as people could have meetings to attend during business hours or after- work commitments they cannot skip. Choose the day and time that is best for the majority of the guests. While you likely cannot get everyone to agree, you’ll be sure to have as many guests in attendance as possible.

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Prepare Activities and Entertainment!

    Food is great and talking to coworkers is fun, but a true party needs some entertainment. If nothing else, have music; hire a band, turn on the radio, or have a guest be the DJ with an upbeat Spotify playlist! Keep it upbeat and seasonal if possible, but be careful to avoid playing more religion-based holiday tunes. 

     Take the party one step further by including karaoke in the list of activities, or by playing games like charades, pictionary, or other team-based board games. You can choose to turn the game into a friendly competition by offering small prizes to the winning team including small gifts, snack foods, or simply office bragging rights. If weather permits, take the games outside and have guests try their hand at cornhole, ladder golf, bocci, or lawn darts. The selection of lawn games continues to grow, so you can be confident that you’ll find something that everyone will love.

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Recognize Employees.

     Before the party concludes, it is always a morale-booster to take some time to recognize the hard work of the employees. Have some higher-ups say short speeches thanking their teams, or have annual awards presented to those employees who have gone above-and-beyond. After the serious recognition is done, consider presenting employee superlatives. Prior to the party, set up a list of superlatives and have guests nominate people. Come party time, set up a ballot to determine the winner of each superlative, and present them with awards. Some superlative examples:

  • Best dressed

  • Most likely to be eating at their desk

  • Loudest talker

  • Most helpful

Need more superlative ideas? Draw inspiration from this blog:

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Give Gifts.

     Seeing as this is a holiday party, gifts should be exchanged. How you choose to do this is completely up to you. Here are our potential methods…

  1. White Elephant: have each guest bring an unmarked gift that is within a certain price range. Only those who bring a gift can play. Everyone draws a number to determine the picking order. Each turn, someone opens a gift and can decide to keep it or exchange it for another gift that was already opened. At the end, the first person to open a gift can choose to change with any other player (ie Number 1 is the best number to draw).

  2. Funny White Elephant: follow the same rules as above, but this time the items are all gag gifts. These White Elephants tend to be hilarious and usually involve a lot of swapping.

  3. Goody bags: The company can have goody bags of small gifts to give to each employee as they leave the party. These can include merch, candy, accessories, gift cards, lottery tickets, etc. No one goes home empty handed, and all the employees feel appreciated. 

With these tips, you can feel confident when planning your holiday party. Have fun planning and your guests will have fun attending.