Your assignment (like it or not) is to plan the company party. But your event planning doesn’t have to be filled with tension and anxiety. When you know these eight clever party hacks (and the possible mistakes to avoid when planning your company holiday party or event any time of the year), you’ll remain cool, calm and collected and have a party that your guests will long remember. Plus, you’ll come out looking like the star you deserve to be.

Start with your budget

First, make an event budget and pass it by your boss to make sure it’s in line. This will give you plenty of time for finalizing arrangements for the party. It may seem like a daunting task, but won’t be as stressful if you use any spreadsheet format and include an estimate for all items (plus a contingency of 10 to 15 percent):

  • Venue
  • Décor
  • Food and beverage
  • Entertainment

The more details you include, the more accurate your budget will be.

Timing is everything, especially when planning your company holiday party

There’s never going to be a perfect date for a corporate party, especially a holiday party, since people are bound to be busy. A weekday party may work best for the most people…perhaps an hour or two after work. You can put employees in the festive spirt by letting them leave work early to get ready.

As soon as you have a date, an event timeline will guide the event planning process, keep it on track, and set expectations. It’s a godsend for managing stress and planning the perfect party.

Without a timeline—with milestones and deadlines—the planning process can hit a brick wall and cause you to flounder. On the other hand, a quick glance at your timeline allows you prioritize and know what has to be done now…and what can wait. There won’t be any surprises.

Choose a memorable venue

As part of the venue selection process, envision the sort of event you want and the number of people attending. Decide on the atmosphere you desire…casual, formal, unconventional. If you want to have enough space and make the event unforgettable, renting an event venue outside the office is the way to go. This will encourage employees to connect on a personal level and get to know each other outside of business.

Whenever possible, always tour the venue in person. Even if you find a seemingly perfect party location online or through a reference, check it out before you commit to it, so you know how good it really is.

Avoid choosing the same place every year.

Don’t let your office holiday party become predictable and run the risk of becoming boring. Find something that will excite people.

Whether the picture-perfect corporate event venue is a classy museum, elegant ballroom, trendy hotel, or a stunning barn nestled in the beautiful Virginia countryside, you have a big decision to make.

If you’re looking for a party venue in the Frederick County area, the “flying pig” event barn has most often been described as “rustic chic.”  If that’s your style, we invite you to consider Six Pastures, one of Virginia’s most picturesque and enjoyable event venues. The impeccable rustic charm of this venue creates an unbelievable ambiance and warmth for any holiday gathering.

We’ll welcome you and your group with open arms in a place that can make your employees forget about the hustle and bustle of work and replace the day’s anxiety with experiences and memories that will last a lifetime.

Choose a reliable caterer, tasty menu and festive drinks

Planning your Company Holiday Party

Some venues may have in-house or preferred caterers you can work with, which makes it easier. You should also make sure that the catering menu is suitable (or adaptable) for the dining needs of guests (such as ones with allergies or particular diets). Don’t forget to try the food yourself beforehand, so you know it’s as delicious as it looks.

While a sit-down dinner is more formal, if you want employees to mingle you may want to have a buffet or, better yet, start your party later and serve an array of appetizers instead.

The right menu can make or break your party. Work with your caterer to develop a menu that’s well-prepared, delicious, within budget and suited to the season. Make sure there’s enough food to match the number of guests.

Work with the caterer to plan a spectacular and festive bar. And make sure there are taxis or hired drivers to get people home safely if they are drinking alcohol.

Stick to a to-do list

In today’s crazy world of calendars in the far-off cloud and emails on your wrist, we all seem to be so busy and stretched so thin. Especially when planning for your company holiday party, give everyone a six-week lead time for invitations and finalizing event planning. Also, promote the party with regular email updates, reminders on the company intranet, and flyers in the break room. There’s no such thing as building too much awareness.

Streamline the pre-event prep and avoid forgetting any important details by creating a to-do list. That way you won’t have to go from 0 to 100 MPH with your planning pace and enjoy the event planning and the actual party a whole lot more.

Choose entertaining hosts and/or speakers

An enjoyable host or speaker can really set the celebratory tone and add energy to your company party. A host can guide the evening, ensure that everything goes smoothly from beginning to end, help organize the events, and expedite the flow of everything that’s happening. Consider people who are charismatic leaders that you believe would do a good job. Be sure to pass your selection(s) past your boss (and resist the temptation be the host yourself, so you’ll be available to coordinate the event).

A riveting or inspiring speech can really bring things together at a party. Ask people around the office if they would like to speak at the party. Should they accept, give general guidelines for the speech, such as length and possible topics. Also, ask for an outline prior to the engagement. Be sure they recognize individual accomplishments, too.

Find your entertainment

Parties are more fun because of what takes place and the people who are involved. To have a memorable party, you want to provide guests with entertainment and activities that keep them engaged, involved and feeling relaxed.

Music is a must have for company parties. A DJ or a live band can keep people dancing. Plus, you should plan additional activities to keep the evening moving, like a gift swap, raffle, random door prizes, a photo booth or other games.

There’s no delete button

Keep this simple (but critical) pain point in mind when planning your corporate event. Special events like your company holiday party are live and in real time. If things go right, you’re a hero. But if they go wrong, watch out! So be prepared.

Event planning is quite an undertaking involving the delicate balancing act of a meticulous logistics operation, clear content strategy including a party vision statement, as well as cosmic alignment. The reality is that without thorough planning, Murphy’s Law will take over.

Try to get ahead of the curve and plan, plan, plan…and your party will be a huge success and the talk of the company for years to come.