Holiday parties serve as a great way to reward your employees and show them appreciation for all that they have done in the last year. It’s also a great way to showcase the growth of your company or organization, or server as a recap of a great year. Here’s a quick list of seven steps that will help ensure that your holiday party is a success.
1. Luncheon or dinner, or something else?
The first step is to determine what kind of gathering you want to have. In 2012, more than half of all holiday parties (51%) are held as a luncheon in the workplace, but an evening event isn’t far behind (38%). Bear in mind that the time of day will usually impact who can attend, the formality of the event, and the overall budget.
Daytime events certainly tend to be less expensive, but going outside of the box (say a catered evening event at Bowlmor Lanes in Cupertino) could be far less expensive than a formal lunch outing via shuttle bus during work hours.
2. Select a date and time.
With a general idea of your event in mind, now select a date and time. Over half of all corporate parties (58%) take place during the second or third week of December, usually on a Friday or Saturday. You’ll likely save a bundle of money if you can move to any other day of the week. If it’s possible to offer Friday as time off to your employees, then Thursday could work out in your favor.
Don’t feel that your party must take place in December, either. Many organizations will wait until after the new year and celebrate during the first two weeks of January. Not only will this cut back on your overall budget, but it allows you to alter the aspect from a “year end” event to that of a “kick-off” to the upcoming calendar year.
3. Forming your guest list.
This sounds easy, but can get tricky. Growing up, my father worked for IBM and I remember many family oriented summer and Christmas parties where spouses and children were invited. That kind of extravagance certainly carries added expenses. Daytime luncheons are likely to be employee only, but if your event in in the evening or on a weekend, extend the opportunity for employees to bring significant others or their families. They will appreciate the opportunity and you’ll start earning even greater respect and rapport.
4. Choose a venue and caterer.
Now that you have a general idea of the kind of event you are having, as well as the guest count, you’re all set to nail down a venue and your catering. Sometimes you can get these all in one, and there’s a growing trend to start with your caterer and letting them work for you in finding a suitable venue. One example is Mike Shin at Michi’s Catering. He will help you find everything you need, and it just starts with a call for catering.
Bear in mind that you may need to have multiple dates in mind for your event. This year the most popular date is Friday, December 13th. Friday the 6th and Friday the 20th are the next two most popular dates in 2013.
5. Select a theme and entertainment.
The simplest holiday parties are just a gathering and a meal, but many organizations will hire entertainment for the better enjoyment of their employees and families. Placing a theme on the event will make it more memorable as well. Entertainment is not limited to DJs, but can also incorporate comedians, live bands, corporate speakers, and much more. One year in San Francisco, I saw HP bring in a 20-minute feature presentation of Cirque du Soleil. With the right budget and some imagination, anything is possible.
6. Create an entertainment itinerary.
This is probably the most crucial step of the process, and doesn’t have to wait until the very end. Bringing in someone that understands Entertainment Direction and the flow of events will help ensure that your event runs as smoothly as possible. Your DJ and Master of Ceremonies (like Spencer Entertainment) should probably play a heavy hand in this, but that’s up to you.
Create a natural flow that incorporates arrival time with hors d’oeuvres, mealtime, speeches by company officers, employee recognition, and sort of gift-giving or raffles, entertainment, and a way to cap off the event closure. Again, your entertainment professional will have seen enough events to work with you on an entertainment itinerary that makes sense for your event needs.
7. Incorporate recognition.
I can’t stress this enough: The entire purpose of a holiday party is for the recognition of your employees and their hard work and successes over the year. Make sure that your employees feel appreciated when they leave the event. Disgruntled employees often show up trying to stick it to their company by gouging an open bar. Alleviate this by fostering pride in your company culture and celebrating with your employees. Incorporating your culture will keep it from feel contrived and insincere. Hiring entertainment, catering, and other vendors that understand and reflect your culture will convey this message too.
Still stumped? Check out this list of Ways to Thank Employees this Holiday from ERC.
There you have it…
If you are stumped, perhaps you can check in with an Entertainment Director, like Jason Spencer here at Spencer Entertainment. He’d be happy to help you get going in the right direction, and even work on your itinerary to make sure that it doesn’t feel to cramped with events. Avoid the hourlong raffle drawing in favor of shorter, quicker interactions. Call today and we’ll get you going in the right directions.