The holidays are right around the corner! For those of us who have to plan the work holiday party, it can be as daunting as family parties. Here are 12 steps to keep your workplace holiday party from feeling like another day at work.


1. Timing is Everything

It is never too late or too early to plan a holiday party.  Ideally, right around October is when you should get the ball rolling.  You want to lock in a date as early as possible in order to ensure that the venue you want is available. This is also a great time to book any vendors as well.  

Timing is not only important before the event, but during the party as well. Be sure to create a timeline for the event. This helps you avoid the end of the party rush while trying to give a thank you speech after most of the guests have gone. It it best to front-load the party with important speeches and activities to get them over with. That everyone is there to hear the speech and then can kick back and have fun. Talk over your timeline with the venue and any other vendors you may have such as the DJ or entertainment to make sure that the party flows smoothly and allows everyone to do their part in a timely manner.

2. Check, Set, and Save the Date

Take a look at when Christmas falls on the calendar.  For 2018, this means that December 25th is on a Tuesday.  Most employees try to start their holiday vacation around the 21st of December, making the prime time to have a holiday party around the middle of the month or the 15th.

3. Budgeting for your Bash

Knowing how much you have at your disposal to spend on a great holiday party will help to determine the type of event that you throw.  A large company might have the funds to throw an all-out bash for their employees, but if you are a smaller organization, you can still plan something extra special for your staff.  Keep in mind that luncheons during the week are more cost effective than having a dinner party on a Friday or Saturday night.

4. Location Location Location

Just like how a family vacation is better when you actually leave the house, try to have the party at an off-site location.  Restaurants, lounges, catering halls or someplace unique like a museum are all great spots for a holiday party. Choose a venue that is also easy for your employees to get to – especially if the party will be held right after working hours. Hosting a work party at the office makes it harder for support staff to actually enjoy the party because they will expected to work the party. If you must host the party at the office then you as the employer need to make sure that everyone at all levels of the organization pulls their own weight during set up and cleanup. You can also hire waitstaff through the caterer to ensure that everyone gets to relax and have fun.

5. Guess who’s on the Guest List

There are pretty much two options that you have when it comes to the guest list: keep it strictly for employees only or open it up to their families.  The former is the most cost effective one as it will keep the guest count down and allow you the option of throwing a luncheon during the work day rather than hosting an event after hours or on the weekend. If the budget can handle it, or if you are holding the event after hours, go for allowing your employees to invite a plus one or even their children. Just keep in mind that a restaurant or venue might be a more family friendly place than a club or a lounge.

6. Invitations

For most organizations this can be as simple as a mass email sent out to everyone in the organization letting them know when and where the party will be. If you are hosting a more formal affair or if a head count is needed, include RSVP instructions and try your best to follow through with everyone.  If there is room in the budget and it isn’t too much of a burden, go ahead and send the invitations out in the mail. It will make the invite that much more special. Send out the invitations before Thanksgiving and if an RSVP is needed, ask for this by the 7th of December to give the caterer enough time to prepare for the party.  

7. Music Makes the Mood

This is a must.  Is this not a holiday party?  Find a venue that allows room for a DJ to play music during the holiday party.  If it is at a restaurant, ask if you can bring your own music and ask your employees to send in their song requests to make the party more inclusive.  You can also create a playlist of holiday songs both old and true and young and pop-like. Either way, music will help set the mood and give the party a more festive feel rather than just another day at the office.

8. Entertaining

Most parties don’t need entertainment if you have good food, great music, and holiday cheer flowing, but if the holiday party will include families then by all means have something for the children to do while their parents relax and mingle.  Santa Claus is always a big hit at this time of year, but you can also have other interactive fun such as face painting or a game area for kids to run around and play in. Let your inner child run wild – the parents among you staff will thank you.

9. To Drink or Not to Drink

If you’ve seen the movie “Office Party” it is clear that drinking can get out of hand very quickly for some employees if given the opportunity to do so.  It is also good to keep in mind that alcohol will take up a huge chunk of your budget if you choose to provide it. To keep everyone happy, serve red and white wine along with beer which is generally more affordable. You can also create a signature drink or two for everyone else to enjoy.  Think of spiked apple cider or egg nog to keep in the holiday spirit.

10. Gifting and Receiving

To give a gift or not is entirely up to you.  Generally, the party is the gift, however, having an edible take home treat could make for the perfect gift.  Think hot chocolate bags or have a dessert table set up and allow everyone to take what they want. Don’t forget the kids!  A good idea might be to get hats, gloves, and scarves or an activity book with pencils. It doesn’t have to be big, but the thoughtfulness will go a long way.

11. Give Thanks

Find the time during the party – preferably around he beginning or halfway through the event – to congratulate everyone on all of their hard work and achievements for the year.  The real purpose of the holiday party is not to just get together and have a good time, but to also say “thank you”. As an employer, you can never say thank you enough to those who wake up and spend most of their time helping your business grow rather than spending time with their families or working for someone else.  The holidays are all about being grateful and spreading that cheer to everyone we have in our lives. So take a few minutes to raise a glass to the best employees around and say “thank you”.

12. A Planner’s Touch

What if you don’t have the time or the expertise to plan a party?  Hire a planner. This will help save you time, money, and holiday stress by doing what they already do 365 days a year at a fraction of the cost.  A planner can also make it so that everyone can enjoy the party.

The holidays are our favorite time of year here at Georges Girl Events. Whether your party is a large one for over 500 people or a small business with only 10 employees, let us help you throw a party that will be memorable for your organization.  Georges Girl Events can create a package as simple as virtual planning or a full service package in which we take care of everything from the guest list to clean up on the day of. Contact us to plan your party today.

12 Steps to a Festive Holiday Party