Planning the Office Holiday Party

Gina Deveney
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Every year, many companies celebrate the holidays by throwing a party for their employees. Not only do holiday parties boost employee morale and help get people into the spirit of the season, they also provide an opportunity for companies to show their appreciation for their workers. Here are a few tips to create a fun, special holiday party for your office.

First, determine what type of holiday party is best for your company. Many companies hold a holiday luncheon during business hours, while others opt for the more formal setting of an party after hours or on a weekend. Lunch parties are more budget-friendly and casual, while evening events tend to be more expensive.

The specific date for your party is another important consideration. Toward the end of the year, many employees use their remaining vacation time, so don't schedule the party too close to the actual holidays. The second or third week of December is usually a safe bet.

For the guest list, of course every employee is invited, but does your company want to extend the invitation to spouses or children as well? While doing so is generally well received, allowing employees to bring additional family members can drive up the cost of the holiday party significantly.

Once you have your date and guest list, choose a location for the party, if not on company grounds. Common venues include country clubs, banquet rooms and restaurants. Most of these establishments have their own in-house catering, which can make things more convenient. Many will have previously hosted holiday parties, so the person in charge of planning may prove to be a valuable resource with great suggestions you hadn't considered.

Select a theme, including colors, music, food, decorations and fun ideas that will make the party unique. Don't be afraid to get creative. Some companies make their parties more festive by having ugly "sweater" contests or international holiday food themes.

Make sure to send out invitations well in advance of the party. Employees need time to schedule this event in what is, for many, already a busy holiday season. You also need time to gather the responses and get a final head count. For luncheon parties, an email is efficient and free. If the party theme is more formal, mailed invitations may be more appropriate.

Create a program or agenda to keep the event organized. It should clearly list the time of arrival, serving of food or drinks, speakers, employee recognition, gift-giving or other activities. Don't forget to include the closing time, so you can plan for any wrap-up or post-party responsibilities you have to fulfill.

Finally, consider incorporating some sort of gift-giving into the holiday party. This can be a simple, inexpensive Secret Santa exchange among employees, or a more formal ceremony to recognize outstanding employees. Some companies enjoy hosting a "white elephant" gift exchange, in which employees wrap the most useless item in their house, and a prize may be given to the recipient who gets the worst one.

Whether your budget is large or small, the point of the holiday party is to make the employees feel great, and allow them the chance to socialize in a relaxing and festive environment. If the party makes employees feel appreciated and connected, you can consider it a success


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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Not sure why it is but the office party planning always seems to fall on the AA. Anyone else experience this?

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