Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Office Holiday Party Planning Checklist

Planning a Christmas party, year-end meeting, or holiday event for your office? Follow these 12 simple guidelines to ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday celebration.
  1. Don't go at it alone.
    Planning the office party may be your responsibility, but no one says you have to do by yourself. Form a committee of 2-3 people to share the workload. If you have the budget and authorization, consider hiring an outside event planner.
  2. Plan a theme party.
    A simple theme can go a long way towards setting expectations and making the entire planning process more focused. Popular office party themes include Casino night, Hollywood theme, and Office Awards show.
  3. Consider an off night.
    Here's an idea - don't have your office party on the first or second Saturday of December like 99% of everyone else in the county. You'll get better deals and more options if you host your party on an off night.
  4. Deck the halls.
    Whether you're having the party in-house or off-site, pull out the decorations to make the event festive. You don't have to break the bank, just some small, tasteful touches will do.
  5. Break up cliques.
    Avoid an office party where coworkers mingle with the same cliques they hang out with all year. Consider assigned table seating, or use "standing" tables to encourage mingling.
  6. Serve food.
    When planning the menu, look for food that is easy to eat and won't end up on someone's clothes or the floor.
  7. Have drink options.
    If you're going to serve alcohol, go out of your way to think up equally fun and festive non-alcoholic drinks. Offer mocktails, festive punch, unique soda options... anything to make not drinking just as fun as imbibing. Be sure to have plenty of bottled water on hand and personally serve it to those that are drinking.
  8. Hire entertainment.
    I'm sure your manager is a real hoot. But leave the entertainment up the the professionals. Break out the karaoke machine, find a local band, or hire a comedian. If your budget doesn't allow for outside entertainment, consider exchanging gag gifts or hosting some office party games.
  9. Get a photographer.
    Your employees usually arrive dressed to the nines, so don't miss this opportunity to capture images of them at their best. Just do it early on in the party, before too many drinks are served. Once the Electric Slide breaks out, put the camera away.
  10. Provide hand sanitizer.
    Seriously, it's flu season. Have some Purell available.
  11. Corral the booze.
    Stop serving alcohol at least an hour prior to event's end. Offer a food item or dessert at that time. Take care of anyone who may have over-indulged.
  12. Have transportation options available.
    Set up some transportation options prior to the event. Have people volunteer to be designated drivers ahead of time. Make sure everyone has access to taxi cab phone numbers, and that cars will be safe overnight. Call the cabs yourself if you have to.
Need more free tips and office party planning checklists? Just keep checking back! And please add your own tips in the comments section below.
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