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20 Holiday Party Planning Tips

20 Great Holiday Party Planning Tips

We know that the holidays are fast approaching. We’re all watching our pennies, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t host a holiday party for employees and still keep it all in the budget!

Whatever your party budget, it will serve you well to show your appreciation for your workers’ year-long efforts in some tangible and merry-making manner; to celebrate together in a social rather than business atmosphere. This goes a long way toward making workers feel valued and helps them bond with one another, a good step toward team building and improving morale.

That’s why we brainstormed on how you can host a party and engage the team. There is a way to party hardy and have a great time if you follow some simple rules.

Whether you hold your holiday party on or off company premises, there are many ways for you and your employees to have a frolicking good time without “breaking the bank.”

Here are 20 Great Holiday Party Planning Tips to having a Budget Friendly Company Holiday Party.

1.  Start planning now
Everyone knows the key to saving money is to plan ahead and be organized.  Now is the time to decide what type of party you’d like.  Do you want to have a dinner party at a big fancy ballroom or an informal get together at the office? Think about your guest list.  Will employee’s spouses be attending?  Keeping the party on the smaller side is more than likely going to save you money.  Do you want to provide everything, or do you want to go potluck?

2.  Set the date immediately
“Premium” days in the month of December quickly fill up on Caterer’s calendars.

3.  At-the-office mid-week Luncheons
A catered luncheon at the office can be less expensive than a restaurant or banquet outing.  Catered foods range in cost and many caterers themselves have a number of menus with a range of selections and prices.  Since this is during the work day, it goes without saying it’s for employees only, so the guest count would not be as high as if it were an evening event.  There would also be additional savings by not having any alcohol.

4.  At-the-office mid-week Afternoon Mixers
Instead of Lunch, host a mixer from 4pm-6pm with light finger foods and beverages.  Invite employee’s spouses to join for a family atmosphere.  Bring in a multi-disc player sound system and play some popular holiday CD’s, or tune your company radio to a local station that plays non-stop holiday music.  Take some party photos of employees and display them on your company bulletin board.  Consider playing some lighthearted holiday games or activities to add some fun to the festivities.

5.  Have a “Dessert Bake Off” contest
Not everyone bakes, but those who do, usually love to share their goods with friends.  Make it a team effort (and alleviate your financial burden) by asking them to bring a favorite dessert to share.  Make scorecards by each dessert and the winner gets a gift certificate, or a paid day off, or lunch with the boss or ???

6.  Off premises parties
Invite your employees and their “significant others” to the Bosses home. At-home holidays parties have a “warm and cozy” feel to them, and can make socializing more comfortable and enjoyable. Holding a party at your home can also be a little easier on the wallet than a restaurant or banquet hall party. Whether you serve brunch, lunch, dinner or cocktails, be sure the quality and taste of the food and drink is superior; this will add considerably to the party experience.  Because it is at a private home, you would also be able to furnish your own alcohol and not have the added expense of a bartender, just be sure to consult with your insurance company regarding liquor liability.  Most policies have a nominal charge to add this type of coverage for an event at your residence.

7.  Have the Caterer just Drop it off
Instead of having the expense of a wait staff and bartenders.  Just have the Caterer bring everything, set it up, then leave.  Arrange for them to come back and pick up their equipment on the next regular business day will keep delivery costs to a minimum.

8.  The Big Party
If you do choose to go “whole hog,” and hold your party at a banquet hall, there are some ways to hold down costs. Parties held on any day but Friday or Saturday are generally less expensive.

9.  Have a “wintertime” party
In January and February the prime dates aren’t filled and you might just get more value for your dollar.

10.  Ordering from the menu saves money
For many Caterers, their Chefs carefully plan menus to inspire, stay balanced, and with a specific budget in mind.  When starting from scratch, often times, a great idea becomes much larger of a process to execute than planned.  This creates additional expense to the Caterer and therefore is passed on to the client.

11.  Do your best to get an accurate head count
It’s better than paying unnecessary additional monies for “no-shows.”  Plan quantities carefully. Calculate how many guests you have and plan for that many.

12.  Buffets or food stations?
Create some fun interaction with a great Chef Manned Action Station.

13.  Have a signature cocktail with beer and wine
Full bars come with their price tag, instead come up with a great holiday cocktail that will please your guests and keep the price tag in check.

14.  Butler Passed Hors d’oeuvre
People are less likely to waste food this way. If you just put food out on a table and give them plates they tend to fill up the plate but don’t eat it all. If you have servers walk around with trays they are more likely to eat what they take.

15.   Simplicity equals Elegance
Sometimes less is more, so focus your budget on the most important parts first.

16.  Fresh and festive décor sets the tone
A couple of decorations and centerpieces can go a long way.  Festive linens, candles, and décor can really set the mood.  If you have a hands on committee, have them join you and set the room prior to the event.  It’s another great team building exercise that allows for some great creative outlet.

17.  Use a theme
Having a theme helps you focus on what you buy. If you focus on a particular theme and stick to it, you won’t waste money on things that don’t fit that theme.

18.  Plan a Potluck
It’s the oldest tradition of Holiday Gatherings I can think of, really!

19.  Do nothing
That’s right, “do nothing”. Save the budget for a great Summer Party!

20.  Crash someone else’s party!
Seriously. Many associations have holiday parties that allow you to bring your employees as long as you pay their way. This makes great sense for smaller companies to not only have a very upscale and elegant atmosphere for their party, but is also a great way to network.

Catering Portland divider

The holidays should be a festive and fun time, a time of good will and as much generosity as one can muster. With this in mind, reward your employees with a joyful holiday party as a tangible way to express your appreciation for their yearlong efforts. And leave that bah-humbugging to someone else.

Whatever you do to celebrate the holidays this season, keep these tips in mind for your next party, and you can throw a successful that everyone loves. Happy holidays!

Mark Lopez

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