Ah, the holidays. A time filled with cheer, baked goods, hummed carols, and the annual Christmas party. Your company’s Christmas party, for good or for bad, is talked about all year long.
But what makes a good Christmas party? How do you make it worth your while when it comes to boosting employee morale and showing how much you care for them? It’s something managers and business owners need to think about. Here are a few tips to help you plan a killer Christmas party.
1. Analyze your Employees
What are the demographics of your office? This can make a huge impact on what type of party you’ll throw. An office filled with millennials versus one filled with baby boomers are going to have very different party needs.
Take an honest look at your company’s culture and how your party will relate to it. Consider taking your party an opposite direction from the culture so your employees can easily separate work from having fun.
Find out what your employees do for fun. A great Christmas party helps employees blow off steam and make connections with coworkers outside of work. Not planning the party around your demographics leads to an awkward party with everybody wanting to go home.
2. Start Planning Early
There are thousands of other businesses planning similar Christmas parties as you, and if you don’t hurry, all of the great venues and activities will get snatched up. The earlier you start planning, the less issues you’ll have to deal with on the road to Christmas.
If needed, delegate some of the planning to a committee. Ask for volunteers and lower their workload so they don’t see this as an unnecessary burden, but a chance to show off some creativity. Be an involved leader with the group, as you would with any project.
3. Get Outside of the Office
Don’t hold your party at the office. Even if you fill every corner with Christmas cheer and decorations, people won’t be able to fully relax at their workplace. Your office is designed to encourage productive workers, not for relaxing at a party. Plus, if you’re providing alcohol, being at the office can also lead to broken equipment, big cleanups and embarrassing situations.
Find a suitable venue for the party. Renting out a space like a hotel ballroom or private room at a swanky restaurant may be expensive, but will make the experience safer and more enjoyable.
4. Plan Something Different
As mentioned before, not everybody enjoys the traditional Christmas dinner party. So this year, do something different and fun. Picking the right activity will require a lot of thought and research, but it can make this Christmas party the one talked about for years to come.
Here are a few activities you could do:
- Hold a Casino Night (without using real money)
- Play some Laser Tag.
- Throw a black tie Christmas Ball
- Rent out a movie theater and have a Christmas movie night
- Book seats at a comedy club
- Skip the traditional Christmas dinner for more exotic food like a Sushi Bar
- Plan a Christmas themed Murder Mystery
- Attend a local sporting event
5. Everybody Gets A Gift
Nobody should walk away empty handed from your party. That doesn’t mean buy some cheap gift basket full of dollar store junk. Be thoughtful about what your employees want. If possible, personalize each gift so your employees feel appreciated for both their work and their personalities.
If your business is too large for personalized gifts, you can never go wrong with gift cards. Get a good variety including Amazon, local restaurants, and iTunes.
A lot of businesses do White Santa/Yankee Swap/Secret Santa to ensure everybody gets a gift. If you are planning on doing this, be sure to set proper rules like a price expectation, whether the gift should be serious or humorous, and if the gift should be handmade or not. Gift exchanges can be a lot of fun, but can hurt some feelings if done incorrectly.
6. Arrange a Time That Works For Everybody
Find out how many of your employees plan on traveling for the holidays and pick a date and time that works for everybody. Doing a party earlier in the month can help avoid holiday travel plans and conflicting events.
Announce the party early so your employees can make plans to attend, arrange babysitters, consult a spouse and avoid other scheduling issues. Sending a single email isn’t enough. Remind your employees with follow-up emails, posters, invitations and consider announcing it on social media.
Make arrangements so that nobody is stuck managing the phones or watching the shop while everybody else is at the party. Even consider closing the office a few hours early so people have time to go home and change or relax a little before the party.
7. Pick Food and Alcohol Carefully
Nothing ruins a fun party quicker than bad food. Try to coordinate the foods to match the activity. If there will be lots of moving around, dancing or similar physical activities, plan out gourmet finger foods for people to snack on. If the party is more formal or traditional, plan an elegant Christmas dinner that everybody will love.
Stay conscious of dietary restrictions with food. If you have the food catered, be sure to offer gluten free/vegan options to keep everybody happy.
Alcohol is another choice that has to be made. Are you going to offer an open bar, cash bar, a drink maximum, or skip alcohol all together? Analyze your activities, and who is attending, to help pick what to do. If there are going to be children and teens present, you may want to limit the amount of alcohol flowing. If you plan on offering an open bar, hire a taxi service to drive people home to avoid drunk driving.
8. Skip the Talent Show, Hire Professionals
Avoid the awkward, last minute, poorly rehearsed, slightly offensive skits and musical productions in favor of professional entertainment. Hiring a professional piano player, string quartet, or band can really class up your event and be memorable. A stand up comedian or local playhouse can transform your standard dinner party into dinner and a show. Your employees will also be thankful they don’t have to spend an evening dreading their turn on stage.
9. Take Tons of Pictures
Put somebody in charge of snapping photos, or hire a professional photographer. Capture the event and post the good photos to social media. That way, in a week or so, everybody can look over the photos and remember how amazing the Christmas party was. Plus, 5 or 10 years down the road, people can look back, reminisce about how it was in the old days and talk about old employees.
If you’re having a black tie event, set up a photo booth to take Prom-esque photos. Plenty of couples don’t get a lot of opportunities to dress up fancy and take nice photos, plus it can lead to a lot of hilarious photos to share.
10. Plan the Theme Last
After you’ve figured out everything else, pick a theme for your party. This may sound strange, but if you pick a theme first, you put limits on what you can do for the party. Great ideas are thrown out because they aren’t in line with “the theme.”
By choosing a theme last, you give yourself the flexibility to plan an amazing party. You’ll also come up with more creative themes, moving away from “A Nutcracker Christmas” or “Winter Wonderland” and into ideas never before seen by your employees.
Do you have a success story about a great party you’d like to share? Is there something you consider a must have at every company business party? Share in the comments below.