If you’re reading this article then chances are you’ve been tasked to organise the office Christmas party – congratulations (or commiserations, depending on how confident you feel about it)! The office Christmas party is undoubtedly one of the biggest events on any company’s social calendar. It also means that expectations are likely to be fairly high, so taking charge of the organising and planning brings with it high stakes. But never fear, we’re sharing with you 15 top tips that will help ensure your office Christmas party is the best ever.
1 It’s never too early to start planning
Christmas may seem a long way off yet, but trust us when we say you need to get to work right now! Some venues will have started taking bookings as soon as they packed away last year’s festive decorations, and there is obviously only a limited time in which Christmas parties can logically take place (although, admittedly, some companies will go a little alternative and hold theirs in early January).
2 Get a date in the diary
You want as many people as possible to attend the office Christmas party but you’ll never be able to please everyone, so be prepared to disappoint the few who can’t make the more favoured date. Mid-week bookings can work well in terms of budget – they are less popular, so venues tend to reduce their prices slightly – but partying on a Tuesday night may not go down well if everyone is expected to be at their desk and working by 9am on Wednesday morning! Naturally, Friday is the preferred date for most – people can relax and enjoy themselves, knowing that they can have a lie-in the next day and nurse hangovers in the privacy of their own homes. Once you’ve settled on the date send out a ‘save the date’ message to everyone.
3 Work to a budget
Whilst you might have a fantastic vision for your office Christmas party, there is no point in forging ahead without knowing what you have available to spend. Looking for venues and talking to suppliers will be a waste of your time and energy until you know what you are allowed to spend per head. With a budget set you can then focus on making realistic plans.
4 Allocate the budget
How you use the budget very much depends on the type of party and what everyone expects. If yours is an office that enjoys a really good night out with plenty of drinks flowing, then a formal sit-down dinner may not be well received. You might be better off spending less on the catering – perhaps go for a buffet or bowl food menu – and putting more money behind the bar.
5 Think about your company culture
Linked to the above point, understanding the expectations of your colleagues is key to a successful party. Should you be hiring a DJ and creating a club atmosphere if few people will be inclined to take to the dancefloor? Again, keeping everyone happy is (probably) a tall order but it might be worth sending out an email with a few options to gauge interest before you commit to a final plan.
6 Are plus ones invited?
The office Christmas party is the perfect opportunity for the directors to say ‘thank you’ to their staff. If budget allows, it can also be nice to say ‘thank you’ to everyone’s nearest and dearest.
7 Know your numbers
You need to have a very good idea of how many people will be attending. Numbers will influence the choice of venue or size of marquee. Planning for a group of 20 will look very different to organising a party for 80-100 people.
8 What’s your vision?
Assuming that budget allows for something beyond a package deal at a hotel, you’ll need to decide on a few key things. Will yours be a day or evening event – or will it even span the entire day? Will there be a theme? Are you going to include any kind of awards ceremony?
9 Choose where your party will be held
Armed with all of the above, you can now search for a venue that is available on your preferred date, has a room or rooms of suitable size, is in the right location and comes within budget.
10 Location is important
Finding a venue in the ‘right location’ is all very well if you’re in a town or city with good transport links. But if you’re considering venues that are more remote, you’ll also need to think about how everyone will get to and from the party. It may mean ordering a coach, taxis or somewhere to stay overnight – which all plays into how you spend your budget.
If your chosen venue has an in-house event management team, make the most of them. Give them a clear brief about what your event needs to achieve and the budget and let them put together a package of what they can offer.
12 What’s on the menu?
If food is central to your Christmas party, make sure you’ve accommodated all dietary requirements so that everyone feels included and no one goes hungry. If your venue or caterer offers a tasting session, do take advantage of it – it will give you greater confidence that you’ve made the right choices.
13 Entertain your guests
From close-up magicians and DJs to live bands, comics and burlesque acts, there is a wide range of entertainment from which to choose. Again, it’s an element that needs to be organised fairly early in the process if you are to secure the entertainment you really want. Think about what people will enjoy, what will fit in well with the theme of your Christmas party and what you can afford to spend.
14 Choose a theme
Of course, this doesn’t have to be difficult! The obvious solution is to transform your venue into a wintery or festive setting with fake snow and lots of white and silver decoration. But you could go for something less obvious and choose a theme that has nothing to do with Christmas – from the roaring 20s to sci-fi. In deciding your theme you should also take into account how comfortable people are with dressing up to really bring the theme to life.
15 Sleeping over
Don’t forget that, like venues, hotels throughout the Christmas party season will also be likely to experience higher booking volumes. So if you do need overnight accommodation, don’t leave it to the last minute to organise!
This list is not exhaustive, but if you’re feeling exhausted already and would prefer someone else to organise your office Christmas party do give us a call – we’re always ready to get festive!