In a 21st century work world – where offices are remote, on-site, and everything in-between – corporate holiday party planning can represent quite a challenge.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways to make sure your hybrid office holiday party is exciting, engaging, and full of cheer.
In this article, we’ll go over the exact steps and timeline you need to plan the perfect holiday company party.
- Two Months Before the Party
- One Month Before the Party
- Two Weeks Before the Party
- One Week Before the Party
A company holiday party is a great way to show your employees that you appreciate their hard work, and that you respect their work-life balance.
Planning for an office holiday party can be overwhelming – especially now that employees are routinely working from home – but there are tools that can help. Below is our corporate guide to helping you with your holiday party checklist.
To make it easier for you, we’ve also created a selection of holiday party planning ideas to get you started in creating the ultimate experience for your team! Click here to discover.
Two Months Before the Holiday Party
Believe it or not, planning an office holiday party should begin soon after the start of Q4. There are some aspects of company holiday party planning that need to be addressed well in advance to ensure a successful event.
1. Poll your staff
First thing’s first – come right out and ask your staff what kind of company holiday party activities they enjoy. Some people prefer drinks and dancing (in non-pandemic times, that is), while some might prefer a more interactive company holiday party with games and prizes.
Check out Thriver’s polling feature to learn more about what your employees love – it will help you make informed decisions about the best holiday party activities for your work team.
2. Decide on the date
Once you’ve decided what type of event you’re going to host, it’s time to pick a date. As a general rule of thumb, a Friday or Saturday night in early December works best – it’s late enough in the season to ensure that everyone’s properly in the spirit, but early enough that it won’t add stress to the busy holiday season.
You might consider sending a calendar invite or casual save-the-date as soon as you know when the party will be. Formal invitations will come later in the timeline.
3. Decide on the budget
Managing the budget will ultimately be a huge part of your company party checklist. As you can imagine, holiday parties can run the gamut from ultra-affordable virtual game nights to over-the-top extravagant galas.
As a general rule of thumb, you should expect to spend at least $75 per person on your event. Be sure to take into account the cost of the venue (if any), food and drink (including shipping refreshments to virtual attendees), and tips for any staff that work at your event.
4. Create a guest list
Here’s one area where planning a company party for work doesn’t need to be complicated – the guest list. The simple rule is to do whatever you can to extend an invitation to everyone at your company.
Excluding certain people will create rifts in the team, which contradicts the intent of a holiday party. In rare cases, you might host an event for only the sales team, for example, or strictly c-suite executives. In these cases, keep information and discussions about the party to a minimum to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings.
One Month Before the Party
At one month in advance, the countdown is officially on. Make sure the following to-do items are addressed as you finalize the details.
5. Send invites
If you’re opting for formal invites, send them out about four to six weeks in advance of the party. At the very least, it’s helpful to send a calendar invite so attendees can block off the date.
6. Lock in catering
Explore your options for food and beverages, and choose one that fits your taste and budget. If you’re hosting a hybrid party, now is also the time to arrange for food and drinks by means of specialized snack boxes to be delivered to at-home employees.
For a catered event, you can expect to spend $30 – $60 per person, depending on the formality of the event. Buffets, for example, cost only $23 per person, but formal sit-down dinners can run well over $100 a plate.
7. Plan and hire entertainment
Depending on the type of party you’re planning, you’ll also want to research and hire entertainment for the evening. Your company poll will determine what kind of entertainment you book; options include a band, a magician, or staff to work the tables at a casino-themed event.
8. Plan and hire staffing
Some events require specific staff in order to run smoothly. You might consider the need for bartenders, wait staff, entertainment, or door security. At the very least, it’s likely you’ll need help setting up and tearing down any event space that you use.
Two Weeks Before the Party
Time will start moving quickly at about two weeks out – stay on top of your checklist for smooth-sailing until the big day.
9. Purchase/make decor
If you’re DIY-ing decor, you should start executing your design about two weeks in advance of the party. This will give you ample time to make other arrangements should your plan not come to fruition.
Even minimal holiday decorations can go a long way in helping the party feel more festive, so allocate some funds in the budget for a bit of sparkle and cheer.
10. Plan party activities
It’s also time to think about the specifics of your party activities. It may sound silly, but it’s a good idea to get a small team together and do a “practice round” of whatever activity you plan to host. This way, you’ll have firsthand knowledge of the exact materials you’ll need, and any snags that are likely to come up when executing with a larger group.
One Week Before the Party
When Party Week finally arrives, it’s likely you’ll feel up to your neck in planning and logistics. Hang in there! The devil is in the details, and your efforts will pay off in just a few short days.
11. Set up the event space
If you have access to any on-site event spaces that you plan to use, try to set up a little bit at a time over the course of the week before the party. Again, this will give you some buffer time to make alternative arrangements if needed. It will also ease day-of preparations (which almost always require more effort than you initially plan on!).
12. Plan party gifts and setup delivery
If you’re handing out party favors, start arranging them about a week in advance. Be sure to consider shipping times for any favors that need to be shipped to remote employees. It’s a nice gesture to ensure that those staff members receive their gift on the night of the party, just like the rest of their on-site teammates.
13. Send reminders
Send a quick and festive reminder to your employees that the party is quickly approaching – one week away!
14. Order baked goods or perishables
Depending on your refreshment situation, and how much of it will be handled by a caterer or chef, you’ll also want to take time out to order your perishables and desserts.
Some catering companies handle this all from start to finish; in this case, no need for anything further on your part. In other cases, you may handle all of it yourself.
Perishables can be finicky, so speak with your supplier about the best time to order, as well as the best way to store the goods until party time.
Planning a company holiday party can be a challenge, but it’s a fun one. There’s nothing better than treating your employees to a cheer-filled night where they’re free to let loose and enjoy one another’s company. Follow our corporate party-planning checklist to make sure all of your bases are covered.
If it turns out that one (or all) of these areas need some work, that’s okay. We have dedicated Culture Experts that will help you build, manage and maintain a memorable company event – we are here for you!