Being shouldered with the responsibility of organising your office Christmas party can often be a thankless task and you are under huge pressure to make sure everyone enjoys their one big office day/night out of the year. How you go about organising the food, refreshments and entertainment for a Christmas party will depend on the tastes of the people coming and the organisational culture of the office, but there are some basic rules that you must follow to make the party memorable for all the right reasons and to avoid it being remembered for the wrong reasons.
However,with some key skills you can use this situation to your advantage. You have been given a golden opportunity to show your planning abilities, to highlight how well you can organise an event and to demonstrate your communication skills.
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Whatever time you think you’ve got, forget it. Start as early as you possibly can because ultimately you’ll be waiting on responses from others plus the earlier you start the more chances you have of securing your preferred venue and entertainment.
Set the date
Start early and spread the word by sending out a mass email with some suggested dates and pick the date that fits with the majority. You’ll also want to ensure it’s a date that fits with the boss.
Remember to give an RSVP by date to save you having to chase everyone for an answer and send out plenty of reminders as the party gets closer.
The size of your budget will ultimately impact on the type of Christmas party you organize. Find out how much money you have to spend.
Allocate the budget by what is most important to your group. This will depend on the type of company you work for and the expectations of the people you work with. Remember that the Christmas party is a ‘thank you’ to the staff, so should be organized for them and not to please directors.
Tip. Leave some money aside as a back up.
Will your Christmas Party have a theme?
A successful Christmas party will generate buzz around the office, and a theme will encourage this sense of excitement. Unusual themes tend to work best.
Decide on the nature of the event: Visit to the pub, just a meal or something totally different. Low impact high impact, outdoors, indoors ? Lunch or Dinner? Joiner party or exclusive party? Just a meal, or cocktails afterwards? Additional entertainment such as a live band, comedian or casino? Advise people of the dress code, particularly fancy dress themes, well in advance.
What kind of party are you after?
- Shared parties Shared parties keep the budget down.
- Private dinner in a restaurant This is ideal for groups of up to 20 people.
- Private venue hire Hiring a venue is a good option for larger groups or members who want control over every aspect of the party, from food and location to the performers.
- Activities Activities for small groups can help team members get to know each other better or just give the staff a chance to try a fresh experience.
Keep a checklist
If it’s a work function or a large event, you might find it helpful to keep a list of everything that needs organizing.
Select a venue
It’s always best to have your event at an outside venue rather than in the office. Staff feel more valued if they are taken out, plus you don’t have to worry about office health and safety issues, not to mention the mess the next day. Organise an appointment to see the events co-ordinator at the venues you like. Get to know the event co-ordinator as she/he can be a great source of information and help.
Visit the Venue
We certainly recommend visiting a venue if you have the opportunity. This can definitely iron out any last minute problems which you wouldn’t otherwise have been aware of until you’d turned up on the day. It will also help to develop that relationship with the organizer/venue.
What to look for in Christmas party venues
Things to consider when choosing a venue include:
Capacity – is it large enough or would you have to compromise your guest list?
Location — is it accessible, good for cabs and public transport? If not, you may need to consider hiring buses or even overnight accommodation.
Facilities — is the PA system modern and functioning? You may require equipment for speeches, presentations and live entertainment.
If you pick a hotel or restaurant, they will need to have the following details of your party night on particular dates before your party evening:
The number of people attending – six weeks before the event.
Any special dietary requirements – four weeks before the event.
The choice of menu selected – four weeks before the event.
A seating plan – two weeks before the event.
Accommodation requirements, only if applicable.
If you do choose to hire a venue or contract with another business for food, drink, or entertainment, make sure that you negotiate. Get a couple of quotes, and have a firm idea of your budget before you start negotiating.
Look for flexibility
Look for a venue who are prepared to tailor their packages to suit your requirements dropping things you don’t need/want. A good venue should also be able to offer a number of menus to suit your budget and dietary requirements.
Test the menu
Most venues have a set Christmas menu selection and a range of options from cocktail, buffet to sit down menu and will work with you to keep within your budget. If you are holding an office party food doesn’t have to be expensive, platters from good catering providers or supermarkets are very cost effective, some fruit markets supply fruit platters.
Always survey your colleagues for specific dietary requirements well in advance and ensure there are non-alcoholic beverages and hot drinks as alternatives.
Make sure you have some fun program with games and activities. At the very least, there should be music for your guests to listen to. Many planners will hire someone to perform, get a Karaoke machine, or even show a slide show or film of the previous year. You can get very creative with your forms of entertainment, but be sure that you have something for the guests to enjoy.
Remember to take photos of your event for use in future communication such as staff newsletters, press releases – if appropriate – and sharing among team members and clients who couldn’t attend.
Get your guests to give you feedback post event, whether this is formally or just listening to what everyone is saying over their morning coffee the next day. If you pass this feedback on to your venue they will be able to improve their services for the following year.
The Christmas party is the highlight of the year, so you can make it memorable for everyone by following these simple tips. Have lots of fun and enjoy.
What are your planning for your Christmas party? Will you go more than one or none?