Halloween is over, Black Friday shopping is done and now, just when you thought you could relax, Christmas is around the corner and…you’ve been selected or volunteered to organize the office Christmas party.
Don’t fret – just like Christmas wrapping paper patterns, there are plenty of ideas out there to provide you with inspiration and support to host the best office Christmas party ever!
As with any event you have to consider the basics. We’ve pulled together some ideas for décor and the details around planning for a great event. As well, we have some suggestions for themes your party, and some ideas for catering and decorating for your Christmas office event.
First and foremost is what is the expectation for the event from senior management? Is there a purpose aside from celebration? You want to be sure right from the start that you are clear what the goal of the event is.
Is it only a Christmas party or will there be a program included? Will there be some kind of employee recognition at the event? Is the event inclusive enough that everyone in the company feels comfortable? In today’s multicultural world, you need to look at your potential guests and ensure that everyone will feel a part of the event.
Once you are clear on the expectations and goals for the event it’s a lot easier to move forward with a plan.
As the organizer it is important to know if you have a budget to work with. The organization might be paying all the costs or there may be expectations that everyone contributes to the event. Often a luncheon or dinner held off site has an employee cost attached.
It is important to identify a reasonable cost that your colleagues would be willing to pay for a dinner/event. You also want to clarify if the budget needs to include catering, décor and special prizes or gifts.
Although one person can handle some tasks, the number of guests defines whether you need to have a larger team to help organize your office Christmas party. There are probably a number of people with whom you work, who can bring their talents to the party planning team.
Organizing the catering for the Christmas party is important and people may have contacts from previous events. There are always people on the team who are great at building social connections. They can help create icebreaker games to help introduce everyone or organize a gift-giving activity.
You might want to organize a charitable activity such as building Christmas hampers, cooking lunch for a homeless shelter or shopping for gifts for needy kids. Also, some people are innately skilled at creating ambiance in any kind of space.
They could be responsible for decorating and setting up the room/facility for the event. Also don’t forget about assigning a group to help clean up after the event – no one wants to stay late or come back to a mess at the office the next day.
Is the event you are planning going to take place during office hours, after closing or on a weeknight or weekend? Is it to be a breakfast, lunch or dinner? When will it end?
These are important questions to ask as you organize for the event. Define your time frame; this helps you plan the program, the food and beverage and décor that you choose.
When you’re faced with a last minute Christmas or holiday party to plan, you may have challenges around where you can hold your event. If the theme is casual and almost impromptu, or if the budget is limited, you probably need to look at the spaces available a low or no cost.
Office Christmas parties are often held when the company is closed. Look around for spaces that are different than the staff room or cafeteria. Try something different that has minimal furnishings and is easy to decorate. A lobby, library, atrium, or even a loading bay might be interesting possibilities!
Consider if you need space for a stand up and conversational event or if you want to have a sit down buffet or served meal. Either way the venue will be important in order for you to meet you goals.
If you are doing an event that is off site, your challenges are different. At the last minute you are faced with limited choices and possible increased costs. Don’t let that deter you. Many restaurants have larger group spaces for a fee depending on how much you will be spending.
As well, don’t forget to investigate if your office tower or complex has a community space available. Finally, there are many other options you can choose. Here’s a few links to places available here in and around Calgary.
Is there a set theme or can you establish a theme for the party? As you choose your theme, it’s important to consider the target group who will be attending the event.
Although most of us look forward to our Christmas celebrations, its wise to consider if you might be leaving anyone out because of cultural, religious or political backgrounds. How might you adapt your theme to include everyone in your office Christmas party?
Your theme sets the tone for your party. Will it be fun and spontaneous or will it be more formal and structured? There are loads of great ideas out there for you to consider.
There is no shortage of ideas for décor. Your company may have already decorated the office for Christmas and you can capitalize on that depending on the space you’ve selected for your event.
Or you may be responsible for decorating the office and the space for your event with items previously purchased. Check the storage room and see what you’ve got to work with. If your committee has a limited budget, Dollar Stores, Value Village and other discount shops have lots of holiday trim available that can really brighten up a space.
If you are doing an off site event, the host facility is often already decorated for the seasonal celebrations – that can take a load of worry off your plate and leave you time for other planning. Check it out with your contacts.
Floral arrangements that are seasonal are a great way to brighten up a buffet table. Fresh flowers or boughs of cedar and pine can really change the feel of an event.
As well, they can add great fragrance to the venue. At this time of year you might be able to rent artificial arrangements from an event planning company. This can save you time and can lower your costs.
Check this office decor board on Pinterest (click the image to open up).
Here’s two more links for your inspiration…
Will your party be an open invitation to everyone or is there a limit to the number of people invited? Many Christmas parties held during office hours are closed to guests.
Company policy, safety and legal standards may limit who can attend. However, offsite events like banquets, dances and events often allow employees to bring guests. The type of guests can change the dynamics of the way an event is organized.
People who work together and know each other well interact differently than a larger group of individuals who may not know each other.
Food and Beverage
Your options for food and beverage are limited only by your budget and maybe company policies about alcohol. Your time frame and decisions about a standing or sit down event guide what food and beverages are appropriate to serve.
Remember to check the liquor laws and restrictions for the venue. Also it is especially generous and wise to consider providing taxi chits or drivers if alcohol is being consumed.
Lots of smaller companies opt for potluck buffets to feed the crowd. This works well if you have access to kitchen facilities for storing and preparing food.
Your company restaurant may also off a special events service and menus that you can draw upon. This might also reduce the cost of your Christmas party. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started:
Catering companies are experts at providing food for a wide variety of Christmas party events. Usually they have menus on their websites or will send you holiday specific menus for your type of event.
The advantages to using a catering company are that you don’t have to worry about food prep, storage, or cleanup. You can even arrange for servers or cleanup staff if your budget allows!
If you do an off-site event the catering company, venue provider or restaurant will assist you in planning for menus and timing of service. It will increase your costs.
However, this gives you and your team a lot more freedom around the program component of your Christmas party. And…it allows you more time to enjoy yourself.
In case it gets forgotten, thanks for taking this on. Your colleagues will be grateful to you for offering to organize the office Christmas party. There are always challenges but keep in mind that you want people to enjoy themselves and connect with one another.
Remember that there are lots of resources out there to assist you and that Simply Elegant is a full service event planning company. We can provide you and your planning committee the support you need in making your office Christmas party a highlight of the holiday season!
Call us for more information or to book an appointment with one of our team.
P.S. In case you missed Office Christmas Party the movie last year, here’s a trailer to spark your imagination and some holiday cheer!