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How To Throw A Great Office Christmas Party

Yes, the festive season is upon us readers! Whether you like it or not you’ll soon be donning your snowman-covered tie, or wearing your Rudolph earrings, or being inundated with glittery, schmaltzy greetings cards.

There are good and bad things when it comes to Christmas festivities at work - usually a good thing is the christmas party, but this can equally be something that is dreaded, depending on what has been organised and how it’s rolled out to employees.

Christmas parties should reward teams for their efforts through the year and leave them going into the festive season feeling happy and valued by their employer. So it’s worthwhile spending time choosing the right type of event for your team.

Plan early

If you’re looking at organising a party in November chances are you’ve missed the boat when it comes to the ultimate christmas party, so use this guide for next year’s festivities. Equally, if you haven’t started planning and have left it late make sure you get the basics covered ASAP: 

  • Set the date & time - give a few options and the one with the most ticks is the one you go with, you’ll never please everybody but it’s important to consider employee’s work/life commitments.
  • Send a save the date - get it in everybody’s calendars to ensure that school nativities and family visits don’t get in the way of your office party.
  • Confirm the budget with senior management - ensure it covers food, drink, music, entertainment, venue hire, transportation and any other crucial costs.

Choose the right team

Ideally speaking the christmas party is a chance to reward employees so it should be something that - on the whole - they are keen to do, not what the company directors want to do. 

Don’t get into the complicated situation of letting everybody have an opinion and instead choose a select team that typically work positively with the whole team and trust them with the option to offer suggestions or give them some options to choose from.

  • Ask people who positively influence their teams
  • Consider adding someone from HR that is typically well-liked and engaged with the wider organisation
  • Ensure there is someone empowered to sign off on decisions, i.e. head of marketing/sales/HR

Party type and theme

What kind of party will your team like? This is a decision that will be made by your party planning team but it’s important to consider what kind of party you want to offer your employees. 

  • Time of day 
  • Spouses and children invited?
  • Packaged or bespoke party
  • Attire required
  • Alcohol involved?

The venue

You should book venues early if you’re hiring an establishment for your organisation, and you should carefully consider how it can work around the other things that may be incorporated in your party.

  • Music, DJ, entertainment
  • Food and catering
  • Alcohol
  • Children of employees
  • Timescales 
  • Decor and setup
  • Themed events

Food & drinks

A crucial part of any party is usually the food and drinks, if you’re hosting a themed party this will need particular attention but there are other things to consider: 

  • Allergies and dietary requirements
  • Alcohol limits and staff etiquette

Music & entertainment

Consider what kind of party you’re hoping to hold, if it’s themed do you need to have some particular entertainers or music? Remember it’s important that on the whole the music and entertainment appeals to all. If most of your employees are under the age of 30 then a playlist filled with The Four Tops and Rod Stewart may not be welcomed…! Equally, there should be something for everyone, so consider hiring a DJ to get the right balance. 

  • Hire a DJ
  • Hire entertainers or special additions, such as a chocolate fountain, magician, or photographer, etc.

Add sparkle

There are plenty of extra ideas to ensure your party goes off with a bang, including:

  • Tableplan - Choose where everybody sits to ensure people mix with those they wouldn’t usually, or ask all of the men to swap seats before dessert to ensure everybody mingles.
  • Conversation starters - Include crackers, corny jokes and icebreaker activities to get people talking to those they wouldn’t usually chat with.
  • Photobooth - If you don’t hire a photobooth, set up an area with props and gimmicks for fun, memorable photos of a fantastic party!
  • Entrance - Create a red carpet entrance and get senior management to greet ‘guests’ upon arrival for a truly special feeling.
  • Awards - Whether they’re comical ‘Best Christmas Jumper’ or more serious, you could create a mini awards section to recognise employees individual/departmental contributions.

Get feedback

Ensure next year’s party is stress-free by asking for feedback and ratings. Depending on the party, this is something you could do by placing simplistic feedback cards at each table-setting or asking for it in the new year. Either way, this will give you some ideas for what worked well, and not so well, to get ahead with planning for next year’s festivities!

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