The office Christmas party is one of the highlights of the year. It’s an opportunity for everyone to let their hair down. Sharon from accounts can hit on Simon in IT without feeling awkward and Tonya in sales can show everyone what screeching tom cats sound like when she jumps on the karaoke machine.
There is a lot to think about when organizing a corporate Christmas event. Whether you are on the hook for putting together a show-stopping event for employees or you have clients to schmooze, fear not because we have put together the ultimate guide for you.
Booking early is critical. Events typically book up a year or more in advance for the best dates around the holiday season. Unless you lock down a venue early enough, you won’t have much choice of dates to pick from, especially if you are looking for a top-quality corporate venue with a restaurant on site.
Decide on a Suitable Venue
Think carefully about the type of event you want. Do you envision a black-tie festive ball with a seven-course dinner and champagne? Or does a more low-key event with fun cocktails and a disco seem like a better idea?
The kind of party you want will influence the venue you choose. Have a rough idea of how many people will be attending before you begin ringing around possible venues. Many of the bigger corporate venues can handle upwards of 100 people with ease, but they tend to book up earlier.
Food and Beverages
Some venues offer on-site catering. This makes life easier as you can choose a menu and leave all the catering concerns to the venue. This isn’t your only option, however. It is also possible to outsource the catering to a third-party company or restaurant, but you will need to liaise with the venue to make sure there are suitable facilities and waiting staff available to handle your requirements.
Choose food that appeals to the maximum number of people. If you plan to serve a sit-down meal, ensure there are menu choices that include vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free dishes. It helps if people can select the dishes they want beforehand.
At larger events, a selection of buffet food is often preferable, so people can help themselves to food as and when they are hungry. Again, include a broad selection of mains, sides, and desserts.
Providing a free bar isn’t always the best idea for a large event, but some free drinks will be expected, such as table wine with a meal and perhaps a free glass of champagne on arrival. If the venue doesn’t have a bar, hire a bar service to supply all alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Be sure to include plenty of soft drinks.
Every party needs entertainment, whether it is a Christmas corporate event or a low-key informal gathering. The entertainment you plan will depend on your budget, but for a corporate event, something better than a stack of CDs will be needed.
Live music or a DJ are popular choices. Take into account the average age of your guests. Younger guests will want contemporary music whereas older guests might appreciate something like a classical quartet or a jazz singer.
It’s OK to split the evening up into different themes. For example, if you are serving a sit-down meal, a band playing in the background will be ideal, followed by a disco later in the evening. You could even have a karaoke machine ready for the end of the night when only the hardcore party people are left.
Coming up with a theme is a great idea for a festive party. You could go with something festive, like Winter Wonderland, and decorate the venue with fake snow and icicles. Or you could choose a theme that’s completely left-field, like Hawaiian Holiday, with tiki lanterns and sweet, fruity cocktails all night long.
Whatever the theme, make sure you communicate it on the invites, along with a dress code.
Finally, send invitations out nice and early. E-vites to all company staff are quick and easy, but if clients and other guests are invited, printed invitations are more appropriate. Keep a database of your guest list so you know exactly how many people to expect before final arrangements are locked down.