How to Plan a Company Holiday Party

Posted in Holidays

What are your thoughts on party planning? Are you an old pro with years of perfectly executed celebrations under your belt? Is it not your preference but something you’ll do if no one else will? Or can you honestly say that you’d rather flee the country than being put in charge of organizing a shindig?

(If you’re in that last category, please put down the suitcase and passport—we promise that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel!)

Regardless of how much experience you have in this field, the truth is that planning a party isn’t rocket science or brain surgery. If you follow a few simple steps, you can pull it off without driving yourself crazy. Spoiler alert: you can make things easier on yourself by booking a great venue for the event!

Step 1: Survey employees for their opinions.

One of the best ways to ensure a good turnout for your party is to pick a venue (and activities) that your employees will enjoy. And one of the best ways to facilitate that is to actually ask people for their opinions. So, in your earliest stages of party planning, let folks know that you’re open to ideas as to where the party should be held and what the primary activity should be—either accept free-form responses or have employees vote from a list of pre-selected options. For example, rowdy millennials may be up for Go Kart racing or bowling, while Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers might prefer a sit-down dinner and Secret Santa gift exchange. If you can integrate a couple different ideas into one event, then so much for the better!

Step 2: Set a date.

Many businesses wind up having their holiday parties in early to mid-December. This is typically close enough to Christmas / New Year’s that folks tend to be in a festive mood, but not so close that it’ll interfere with family get-togethers or pre-booked, out-of-town vacations. Please keep in mind that you probably won’t be able to find a date that works for absolutely everyone; this is a very busy time of year, after all, and some people just find themselves stretched a little thin.

So, when you’re asking for suggestions as to where the party should be held, it might also be a good idea to ask for suggestions as to when the party should be held, too. While there may be some outliers, you’ll probably find a range of dates that work for the majority of your office.

Step 3: Find a venue.

The trick to securing a nice venue is to book early. After all, you definitely won’t be the only person trying to reserve a good spot for your shindig. Wait too long to make a commitment, and you may find yourself with nowhere to go but your office break room. Talk about disappointing! The good news is that there’s no shortage of party venues in the DFW area, so don’t feel like you’re totally sunk if you don’t have your name on a list by the end of October.

Once you have a general type of party in mind (e.g., sit-down dinner, cocktails and conversation, live DJ and dancing the night away), you’ll be able to find a venue that suits your needs. Though the majority of places will need an estimated head count of how many people will be in attendance, you don’t need a 100% finalized guest list yet. And that brings us to our next step…

Step 4: Send out Invitations.

When it comes to actually handing out the invitations, your two main options are either traditional, paper cards or digital “evites.” Paper cards can be mailed to people’s home addresses or distributed in the office; just make sure that (1) everyone’s contact info is up-to-date, and (2) someone is keeping track of RSVPs. Digital invitations are more convenient (and many online services will also catalog RSVPs for you), though older employees may find them confusing or informal. The choice is up to you!

Now, obviously, the most crucial information on the invitation will be the date of the party, the location of the party, and the time of the party. However, you may want to include some additional info, including:

Whether or not guests should bring something. If you’re planning to do a White Elephant gift exchange or something similar, go ahead and say so on the invitation; this will give guests ample time to select and wrap an appropriate gift. Do NOT assume that because you did a gift exchange the year before, or you “always” do one, that people will automatically know to come prepared!

Whether or not employees can invite a guest. Chances are, folks will appreciate the opportunity to bring a spouse or significant other to the party; it will make things more comfortable for shyer employees and possibly even create interesting networking opportunities. Adding an option for a “Plus One” on the invite will save you from being asked, “Is it okay if my spouse / significant other / best friend comes along, too?” several dozen times.

If transportation will be provided. It’s becoming more and more common for employers to provide transportation to and from events, especially if alcohol will be served at the party. Doing so can be a matter of both convenience and safety. It’s also a great way to show your workers that you really care about them! If nothing about transportation is stated on the invitation, people will typically assume that it won’t be provided, so if you are thinking about making arrangements, then go ahead and mention it.

Step 5: Secure party supplies.

“Party supplies” can include food, Christmas sweet boxes, decor, games, drinks, photo booths, and other amenities of that nature. Exactly how many of these things you’ll need to supply yourself depends upon your party venue. Some places ONLY offer a room, while others supply decorations and décor but no food and some places offer food, a pre-decorated party environment, and electronic entertainment systems. If there’s any confusion at all about what a venue’s banquet package entails, be sure to ask ahead of time.

Once again, it may be prudent to ask your employees what kind of party pastimes they’d like to see at the event. Some folks are crazy about photo booths, others people can’t resist the call of the karaoke machine, and certain individuals (or couples) will jump on the opportunity to bust a move on the dance floor. You may be surprised at what flies and what flops when employees are jazzed up by the festive atmosphere!

Planning a holiday get-together is no easy feat, but fortunately, you don’t have to go at it alone. If you’re currently scrambling to find a venue for a last-minute holiday party or looking ahead for somewhere to host a celebration, then give your local Mattito’s restaurant a call. Each of our three restaurants has two or more banquet rooms to provide the perfect setting—as well as enough amenities and delicious Tex-Mex food to ensure that it’s a night to remember!