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The Ultimate Office Holiday Party Planning Guide

The holiday season may seem like months away but it will quickly sneak up on us all. It’s not too early for corporate event planners get a start on their office holiday party planning. After all, company holiday parties have a reputation. Break away from the stigma of canned fun in the office lunchroom and make your 2018 office holiday party one for the books! If you’re not sure where to start, this extensive guide will help you maneuver the ultimate party season.

More than any other corporate event during the year, holiday parties are significant get-togethers for companies. It’s a chance to celebrate the performance of your workmates and network with coworkers from other departments. Office holiday parties boost company morale and also allow for people to build company culture. Studies show employees are more loyal and stay longer with a company when there is a positive company culture

 

The Date

Picking the perfect date is just as important as picking the right venue in order to have the best event possible. Most companies either do their holiday party on the first or second Friday or Saturday or December. About 75% of holiday parties are booked during the first two weekends in December. Since these dates are very in demand, if you’re planning a bit last minute or are budget constrained, consider having your party in early January. Not only will you have more venues to choose from, the cost will typically be lower.

 

Venue

The first key step in your holiday party planning is finding an ideal venue.  Don’t limit yourself to your office space when it comes to hosting a company holiday party. Peerspace is a great tool to help you pick a venue at a price point that works for your budget. Think outside the box when it comes to choosing a unique location for an office holiday party. Art galleries, theaters, and industrial lofts make great party spaces with ample room for guests to circulate and allow for countless configurations.

When budgeting for a venue, it’s recommended to spend no more than ⅓ of your entire budget on the venue rental. The more that the venue provides in the rental cost for your event, such as furniture, AV, or staffing, the more you can allocate to the venue.

When to get started: Up to as early as six months before. The holiday season is competitive for event spaces so the sooner you nail down a venue, the better.

Pro Tip: Narrow your search using filters and photos and then visit a potential venue yourself.

 

Main Entertainment

Big ticket budget items like the entertainment for your corporate holiday party should be the next item you secure in your planning process. Depending on the size and scale of your party, you can end up having multiple entertainment options like a band, a fortune teller or living statues.

When to get started: Up to three to four months in advance of your event date. High-quality performers are in demand so don’t short-change yourself on time.

Pro Tip: Good party entertainment will have your guests talking so really get creative with your choices for the night. Look at it on a per-hour basis. For example, book a band and dance instructors for a few hours and then a photo booth and magician act for the rest.

 

Food and Drink

Give yourself plenty of time to consider food and drink purveyors. An open bar is a nice draw for office holiday parties but it can often be a strain on the party budget. If finances are tight, consider doing a limited drink menu with some themed drinks. A full sit-down dinner is also lovely but not needed. Finger foods and a buffet can be easier on the wallet and allow for more mingling.

When to get started: Start researching your food and beverage options four months ahead of your party date. Give plenty of time to get feedback from the hire-ups and a committee of company employees on the type of fare they most want to have. This is also a good time to make sure you have accounted for any dietary restrictions.

Pro Tip: If your event space doesn’t have a kitchen, consider booking catering through a food truck. Although they’re a trendy choice, food truck companies are equipped to prepare food in their truck to serve to your guests in your venue. The crowd appeal also makes it a fun choice!

 

Logistic Rentals

Now that you’ve secured all the major components of your event, it’s time to nail down the details. Figure out if you need to rent tables and seating for a full sit down meal. If not, work with furnishing rentals to create little lounge areas that allow for conversation. Play off the entertainment or food to create a cohesive theme that you can further tell with the decor.

When to get started: Two to three months prior to the event. Make the decor aspect of your event planning a breeze by creating a floor plan for your event and a flow map of the party’s activities.

Pro Tip: Logistic rentals doesn’t stop with chairs and tablecloths. Think about your event holistically. Will you need heat lamps in the outdoor space? Will there be a video component or will the CEO want to make a speech? If so, go ahead and reserve a microphone, speakers and a portable screen.

 

Invitations

Create simple save the date to send to attendees. These should be sent out at least six weeks ahead of the event and can be done via email or by mail. Relay the event date and hint at the theme. Invitations should go out a month prior to the event. Invitations should include all relevant information such as the dress code, RSVP details, travel options to the event location and parking instructions. Also, if it’s a 21+ event or if +1s are allowed, make sure you provide those details. It’s always helpful to also include information about the preferred attire.

When to get started: Two months before the event. There are plenty of online sites where you can easily create invitations even if you’re not tech-savvy such as Paperless Post or Canva.

Pro Tip: Look for deals where you can get both save the dates and invitations for a minimal price. If your budget is limited, consider taking it all digital with online invites and a splash page with party details.

 

Staffing

You can’t be everywhere at once during a party. Now is the time to hire additional staff for your event. Think about various points where guests will need direction or assistance during an event that will further enhance the experience. You may need valet parking, a bathroom attendant, a guest check-in or someone greeting folks at the door.

When to get started: One month before the event.

Pro Tip: Walk through the event space with vendors to make sure all your staffing needs are covered. It gives everyone involved a chance to visually assess the event location and how the flow will work the night of the event.

In the weeks leading up to the event, check in with all your vendors to finalize any last-minute details. Confirm deliveries and set-up times for the day of with the venue. Create a production schedule for your vendors and the event venue to keep everyone on the same page. Remember that getting a head start on your holiday party planning will make the whole process easier and seamless. This ultimate holiday party planning guide will surely give you more time to acquire fun event spaces as well as creative and exciting food and entertainment vendors. And if you’re looking for a little more inspiration, these party planners take holiday parties to the next level. Don’t wait until December to get a start on making your 2018 office holiday party a fabulous one!

 

 

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