holiday party
Image of cheering friends in Santa caps making toast at corporate party

By Mo Gutale

Planning a truly great office holiday party is no easy task. Putting together something special that everyone will enjoy takes a lot of planning and creativity. Luckily, we have some top tips for you. Here are 10 pointers for hosting a fun and festive holiday bash, including must-haves and some things you can do to make the party extra special.

1) Deciding on the Type of Party

Start by thinking about the kind of holiday party you want to throw for your employees. If you have the space, you could consider hosting a party in your actual office, but this isn’t always ideal. Booking a restaurant and following up with another activity or drinks is a popular choice. You can, however, also go for a package holiday party, although this will offer less flexibility if you have something more specific in mind. Considering the size of your team and the budget available for the party is also very important at this stage.

2) Choosing a Venue

Ideally you want somewhere reasonably close to the office, as your employees probably won’t be keen on travelling too far. You also need somewhere that fits within your budget and is capable of accommodating everyone comfortably. Booking as early as possible is a must too. You should make the most of the venue’s staff as well, as they will have hosted many of these events before, and will know how to run things smoothly.

3) Organizing the Food

Depending on the venue you’ve hired, you can either rely on in-house caterers or outsource them for the evening. Think about what kind of format you want the food to take – a three course meal? Snack food and drinks before a main meal? Make sure you ask your staff if they have any dietary requirements, ensure you offer a vegetarian option, and don’t feel like you’re duty-bound to have turkey!

4) Organizing the Drinks

Decide what kind of drinks you want to offer, and how much of the budget can be devoted to providing them. Perhaps start the evening off with some mulled wine or a holiday cocktail to get into the festive spirit. If money is tight, maybe just pay for a few bottles of wine between everyone to drink with the meal.

5) Deciding on the Music

Whether or not you need a playlist depends on the type of party you’re having. If it’s a bigger event with a space for dancing, music is a must. A DJ is not essential, but it might add a bit more fun to the proceedings. Choosing a mix of holiday tunes and other stuff people will enjoy dancing to is probably the best bet – not everyone is a fan of holiday songs!

6) Delegating

If you’re having trouble getting everything planned and ready, don’t be afraid to delegate some of the responsibility to your employees. Their specific skills may end up making the party a whole lot better, and it’ll give you the chance to bounce ideas off others and see what kind of event they are interested in attending.

7) Organizing Holiday Activities

Of course, the office party doesn’t have to be all about a sit-down meal. It’s a nice way to get together, but you can organize other activities, or do something else before or after eating. Team-building holiday-themed games, bowling, ice-skating… there are countless things to choose from. And if these kind of things don’t appeal to your employees, there’s always the option of a bar after dinner!

8) Giving Something Extra

Laying on a few extras for your guests is a nice way to make the party a little more special. A goodie bag with chocolates and alcohol is a great gesture to end the night on, while a professional photographer can provide flattering/unflattering photos to stick up around the office. Giving out something festive to wear like a Santa hat or a wreath at the start of the party is also a nice idea and creates a more festive atmosphere.

9) Offering Transport

This will be particularly appreciated if the party venue is a little out of the way. Hiring a bus or even taxis to ferry your guests to and from the party and on to other activities will make the event run far more smoothly, and allow your team to properly relax.

10) Asking for Feedback

You can send around a short questionnaire, but this doesn’t have to be an ‘official feedback’ form – you could simply ask your team what they thought of the party afterwards and if there’s anything they’d like done differently. If they enjoyed it all, great! And if some things didn’t work as well as others, then at least you know, and can plan things differently next year!

Mo Gutale is the Business Support Manager at Better Venues with three years experience in event management and business support. Responsible for headline events across the Better Venues brand he has a strong understanding of both the planning and the business aspects of event management. @bettervenues.