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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Money-Saving Office Party Ideas

Associated Press writer Joyce Rosenberg recently penned an excellent article, "Go ahead with holiday parties, even if money's short." The article extols the virtues of forging ahead with the company party - even in the face of a tough economy.

Rosenberg also lists many excellent money-saving ideas to help cut costs on the holiday party:

  • Hold a potluck affair, which can appeal to staffers who love to cook and show off to their co-workers. The boss should still contribute something, perhaps beverages and a cake, and be as generous as possible.
  • If the staff is small, the owner might have everyone over to his or her house for brunch, or a cocktail party.
  • Have your parties onsite rather than in a restaurant or catering hall or club.
  • Skip the alcohol, or serve only wine and beer.
  • Hold parties during off-peak times. Thursdays in December are the most popular and therefore the most expensive dates, so some companies are putting their celebrations off until January.
  • Barter your company's work for dinner at a local restaurant.

Read the full article here. What cost-cutting ideas would you add to this list? Post your comments below or answer this question on LinkedIn Answers


Anonymous said...

Doing a Thursday as opposed to Friday or weekend
(saves 650.00 on private room rental)

Doing a limited selection on menu
(chef choice of 3 meats or 1 fish) instead of complete open menu
average plate 60.00 which includes (2) adult beverages and dessert

Doing a limited much smaller amount of wine selection, no premium bar

No gift cards and asking everyone to bring a "teenager" Christmas gift to give away to those who are in need. everyone purchases toys for little ones and we often forget the older kids

Anonymous said...

We're an AV and Lighting vendor for events, and we are seeing a lot more "Kick Off the New Year" parties (As opposed to end of year blowouts). I'm guessing Jan is cheaper.

We're seeing events with less carving stations to light and more Appetizer tables. (Scaled back on the types of foods) We've even seen an employee only party (No spouses - I'm not sure how that goes over!)

We see venue changes from higher end hotels to more "generic spaces" and decor is scaled back. Entertainment (bands) is still there. Budgets are a bit smaller, but not enough to really be a big deal.

Anonymous said...

Company holiday parties can be such an awkward tradition. In any economy, but for sure the one we're in right now, gathering together to enjoy an overpriced party with people we spend too much time with is way overdone.

Consider something completely unexpected, boost the retail economy and help the less fortunate? Give each employee their share of the money you would have spent on the party and then have 1/3 of the group go to a local toy store, 1/3 the local clothing store and 1/3 the local discount food store and buy up supplies so that a number of families can have a better holiday season and their kids can have a few toys and some warm gloves and a coat.

If you want to have a holiday party at the same time, make it a lunch where this idea is unveiled and it will give people time to talk about something and make their plans for how to do it. Add an Amazing Race theme to the mix to make it more exciting and incent what you'd like to see happen.

Planned in advance, you can even work with the local charity organizations to get a "shopping list" of the things they need most. They already know what is in demand for this time of year. The joy of these efforts will far surpass any party you could throw. Have everyone meet at the charity location or your office at the end of the spree to take a few pictures with all the goods they acquired and have that as a lasting memory.

Anonymous said...

Hosting your party on a weekday as opposed to a weekend is a great way to save money without cutting out the entertainment, which is why many people attend in the first place.
Not only do you save money on venue rental fees, but many corporate performers (i.e. corporate comedians, mentalists, hypnotists, magicians, jugglers, etc.) are more willing to entertain a reasonable offer on weekdays, which saves you money.

Weekends in December and January are the busiest times of the year for entertainers, and they know they will receive multiple offers on those weekend dates, which means their fees are often at a premium rate.

However, slower traffic (i.e. midweek) days often go unbooked. Almost every performer would rather work than sit at home, which is why they are more likely to entertain offers on those slower days.

Anonymous said...

Hold the party after the new year and call it an "End of Year/New Year Celebration"... saves money and eliminates just one more stressful holiday get-together at an already busy time of year! We did this last year, and it was TERRIFIC!

Anonymous said...

Switching from a sit down dinner to strolling, heavy apps is huge.

*Sigh* Cash Bar... but I don't recommend it- company morale and all... :)

Skimp on decor- sprinkle tealights for a nightclub affect.

Anonymous said...

There are so many great answers here. Something I've done as a team building exercise during the holidays is take a group and spend a morning volunteering for a local charity (soup kitchen, food bank, domestic abuse shelter, schools for special needs, nursing home). At the end of the session, have a lunch party on site with wraps, sandwiches and perhaps a dessert that the group leader prepared themselves. I've done this in both large companies with a department and small companies and it does seem to give employees a perspective of abundance, while giving back to the community and seeing their co-workers in a different light.

I've also taken groups to skating rinks and bowling alleys for a holiday event, people have fun, get a little exercise and there's usually a place on site that you can have food delivered.

Anonymous said...

If you are budget restricted consider something fun and entertaining that cost almost nothing! An ornament exchange, a white elephant gift exchange, selecting a highway or park to clean up together, Habitat for Humanity Day together etc. THese activities can be followed by a pot luck lunch on site. Great team building, great way to create holiday spirit and very easy on the budget.

Anonymous said...

The best way to cut costs for your company holiday party is to hire a professional event manager. Many companies are under the misconception that it "costs" money to hire a professional.

While you may or may not pay a fee to the planning company, this fee, if any would be offset by the monies they save your company. There are many cost saving techniques utlized by experienced planners that justify hiring them.

In addition, experienced planners come with a network of relationships with numerous venues and suppliers. The utilization of the relationships and resources also helps the planner to purchase good and services on your behalf for less than they would cost you directly.

For example, several posters here discussed getting reduced room rental fees. Often when companies go directly to venues they are charged a room rental fee. However, it is standard in the industry to NOT be charged a room rental fee if there is enough F & B (Food & Beverage) expenditures. More times than not a seasoned planner can negotiate no room rental fee in exchange for a minimum of F&B being spent.

Anonymous said...

We shut down at Noon on the day before the paid holiday (the 23rd this year) and have a bring a dish meal with prior sign-up. We always get a great variety of main courses and dessert. The company usually pays for meat, beverages, shrimp coctail and table settings. Families and business friends are invited to attend.

A gift auction is held after the meal using numbered tickets. Employees place their numbered tickets in containers in front of the gifts they would like to receive. Winners are drawn at random. Extra company marketing, promotional items, and clothing are given out for those who did not win another gift. A separate gift auction is held for all children in attendance with all children receiving some sort of gift.

Entertainment: the employees do various things. They bring cards, games etc. to play with one another. Last year, they brought in games they could play on the big screen in the conference room- guitar hero and the like and seemed to have a real ball with it.

Charity: we solicit information from CASA (Court Appointted Special Advocates) who have children who have been removed from their homes for various reasons. We decorate a Christmas tree with little stockings, red for gils, blue for boys, and stuff the stocking with the info from CASA- age of child, desired gifts. We wrap all of the gifts and give them to CASA to give to the kids. Most years we have to ask for second and third batches of names.

We also have established a fund for giving throughout the year that raises funds through donations, raffles, hoagie sales, etc and at Christmas time a committee selects a needy family- it may be one or two of our people who have fallen on hard times or a local family.

Anonymous said...

Here are some ways to cut party costs without cutting out the fun:

1. Have the party in-house, during office hours. Savings: no expense for alcoholic beverages, meeting room rentals, parking.

2. Build the menu by having staff bring in dishes that either represent the holidays in their families and/or represent their culture.

Dale said...

You can definitely save money with these office party ideas. Thanks for sharing.

furnished office rental

Karl said...

It's very usual for companies to have parties in their offices. If you want to save money, I suggest you consider these party ideas.

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nyc catering said...

Potluck never gets old in family reunions but for my relatives they prefer catering service. I will push a potluck affair next year for our family reunion because sometimes we need to show our kids money saving tips.