It’s not too late to throw the perfect Christmas party that your employees will talk about for the next year, say the experts at Camm & Hooper, the company behind Banking Hall, Tanner Warehouse and Victorian Bathhouse.
There might not be snow on the ground yet, but it is, unquestionably, nearly Christmas. For many small businesses, this means it’s rush time. If you’re lucky, lots of orders are coming in, and you’re working extra hard to get everything done. It’s important that you leave some time to wind down, however. The whole company has worked hard this year, and at some point you’re going to have to stop and reflect on all you’ve achieved. It might sound like a chore, and they might get a bad press, but one thing’s for sure: you should plan an office Christmas party. The good news is, that it still isn’t too late to plan something your employees will enjoy and remember for a long time to come.
So, here are some things to consider when organising the perfect party:
One of the biggest objections to having a Christmas party is cost. Granted, the cost of a party could spiral out of control if everybody in the team got their way. Step one of planning the party?: Choose exactly who is going to organise it, and give them a budget. A party by committee is going to end up being too big and too costly, so focus your efforts to make sure that it’s cost effective while still satisfying your staff. They don’t have to be super expensive, and they are an awesome way to close out the year and pat everybody on the back.
Find a perfect date
A good place to start with the actual planning is to find a date. The closer to Christmas the better, but make sure you take a thorough survey of when is best for all the staff. Leaving people out is going to mean that all important morale boost is going to take a hit. Setting the date as far in advance as possible means people can plan their travel home etc. and set aside time to attend. This all sounds like common sense, but it’s shocking the number of Christmas parties that get announced the week before, like some kind of special surprise, only to be poorly attended because the majority of the staff had already made plans.
Get out of the office
Something to avoid at all costs is the dreaded in-office party, in which your colleagues stand around awkwardly with plastic cups in a tackily decorated meeting room, to a soundtrack of that blood-curdling Mike Oldfield song that gets trotted out every December. Get out of the office! Choosing a venue is a really important thing to get right, because all the other pieces of your party will fall into place around it. You might want to find a restaurant for a sit-down meal or, if you have a particularly big team, find an event space to host a party with canapés and a bar.
Shop around from venue to venue, and remember that the size of the space is what’s most important – don’t blow the budget on something of grandeur if you’ve only got fifty people coming, and equally don’t skimp on the venue if you’ve got a big guest list. Choose something appropriate, and in a location that’s easy for most people to get to.
Full stomachs are happy stomachs
One of the most difficult things to get right at any event is the food and drink. If you’re having a sit-down meal, then turkey with all the trimmings is probably what you’re going to opt for. If you’re having music and dancing, you need to think about putting on finger food so your staff don’t go home half-starved. Ask well in advance how much in-house catering would be at your chosen venue – you might be pleasantly surprised at the cost compared to external catering. Still, if you’ve got your heart set on a particular cuisine, now is the time to start shopping around.
(You may be beginning to notice a theme here – if you only take away one thing from this article, it should be the value of price comparison. Get quotes, and see if providers will price match.)
If your event space has a bar, then there’s a few things you need to pin down. You can certainly order arrival drinks, but after that it gets more complicated. Guests can be left to purchase their own beverages from the bar, the company can put some money behind the bar on a tab, or guests can be given some drink tokens to exchange on the night. This choice really comes down to how drunk you’re ok with staff members getting. If you happen to have work the next day, an open bar is not a good idea. In fact, given just how expensive it could get, an open bar is rarely a good idea.
Even with the perfect venue, a great bar selection and killer canapes, your party is going to fall flat without the right soundtrack. Let’s get this straight: a Christmas party’s music does not, and should not, consist entirely of Christmas music. You will bore your guests to tears with all the usual suspects – they’ve been hearing ‘Step Into Christmas’ sixteen times a day since early November. Stray off the beaten path a little bit, and put together something more eclectic. If your venue has a sound system, then all you need to do is plug in an iPod with a good playlist. A DJ is a possibility, but for most small or medium sized businesses it’s probably an unnecessary cost.
Don’t forget the invites!
Something people forget to do all too often is to actually invite people to the party. Why on earth would you do that? Doesn’t everybody in the office know when it is. Of course they do, you let them know in that email, along with the hundred others they received that day. The least you can do is give your guests a real, physical invite, with all of the party’s info written up nicely. You should include the date, time, location, whether or not your guests can bring a plus one, and food options if applicable (don’t forget allergies and dietary requirement requests too). Also, note the dress code and ask for an RSVP. Getting a good grasp on how many people are actually coming gives you plenty of time to scale up or down as necessary.
If all goes to plan, your office Christmas party will be the talk of the company right through early next year. Make sure that you take plenty of pictures at the event, and take time to reflect on the successes of the year. And last but not least, have fun!