24 January, 2022

How to plan the perfect holiday party for your office

With the festive season in full swing and businesses slowly winding down for some well-deserved downtime, it’s finally time to plan the holiday party for your office. The traditional end-of-year office party is a great way to celebrate a year filled with hard work, business growth, exciting opportunities, and office camaraderie with your colleagues. You want your year-end office bash to be an event that embraces your company’s culture, and a celebration of all that’s been accomplished over the past year – especially in the midst of a pandemic.

Planning the holiday party for your office, however, must be done well in advance with lots of preparation required to ensure that it’s a smashing hit. For large companies with human resources departments, they can rest easy knowing that the planning is being taken care of. For small to medium-size businesses, however, planning a year-end party can become a bit overwhelming – especially when you are trying to reconcile your books and tie up loose ends before business closes for the year.

To avoid the stress and flurry of activity that comes with the festive season, you must start planning your year-end office festivities as early as possible. By planning early, you have a better chance of securing your ideal date, preferred venue, and the best service providers – possibly at lower rates before peak season arrives. There are lots to plan for – theme, activities, entertainment, food, music, venue, layout – all that without even considering logistics, COVID protocols, and how exactly Secret Santa is going to pan out.  Let’s run through the details.

Three months in advance

Ideally, your planning should start in the second week of September – around 3 months in advance. You must make sure to set an approved budget and start to designate responsibilities to key staff members. You should identify an appropriate theme and create a guest list, if you plan to allow your staff to bring somebody along. Finding and securing a COVID-friendly venue should be relatively straightforward at this advanced stage, and you have the luxury of choosing your preferred date as well.

You must decide on the menu and secure a caterer, bearing in mind any special dietary requirements of your staff members. Some venues have a catering service available, so make sure to clarify that with them. Once that is sorted, you now need to find and secure your music and entertainment so that this year-end bash is one to remember for years to come. Make sure that the DJ or band has your preferred playlist and has their own equipment and PA system, if the venue does not have those.

Two months in advance

Now that the plans are rolling swiftly along in October, you will need to collect a list of addresses or email addresses of your guests from your staff and vendors. You then need a good graphic designer to design your invitations, and perhaps a copywriter to create the snazzy content for it. Make sure to arrange to have those printed, if you plan on going the paper route.

Activities are a big attraction at year-end parties, so make sure to book or rent games and/or activities such as a photo booth, arcade games, a magician, or portrait artist for the event. Also, make sure to secure a good events photographer to make sure to capture these awesome memories. This is also a good opportunity to review all contracts and deposits with service providers to make sure everything is in order and you are within budget.

One month in advance

Heading into November, you are starting to feel more confident as your advanced planning is keeping you ahead of the pack. At this stage, you should be approving the headcount so that you can confirm that with the caterers and venue. You should also be placing your food and drink orders, and sending out your invitations to all guests.

If you plan on adding your own touch with decorations, make sure to order or buy your decorations now. If you plan on giving away swag bags or gifts to the guests, make sure to order or buy these now as well. On the day of the event, you will need people to help with check-ins, greetings, security, setup, and clean up – so make sure to assign those roles to staff members now.

One week in advance

December has arrived and the festive spirit has taken over. You are relatively calm, however, as your advanced planning means that you are not scurrying around at the last minute trying to get everything in order. At this stage, you can send reminders to all guests, if they haven’t already RSVP’d. You should also confirm the timeline and programme with your service providers and the venue.

Make sure to confirm all assigned roles with your staff members and volunteers, and reassign roles where necessary. You can also fetch last-minute supplies and decorations, and check that your food and drinks orders are on track – considering those service providers may need to start ordering for that now.

The day of the holiday office party

Finally, the day has arrived and it feels like all your advanced planning has paid off. Make sure to double-check your logistics, and send a reminder to your colleagues about the venue location and start time. As the planner-in-chief, you must make sure to arrive at the venue a few hours before the start time to set up, decorate, and check in with all volunteers and staff members who have been assigned some responsibilities.

Don’t forget to run through the programme and timeline of events with them so that everybody is on the same page. With that out of the way, you can now pause, take a deep breath, smile, and give yourself a pat on the back – you pulled it off in style! Now it’s time to celebrate with your colleagues.

Final thoughts

As you can see, planning a year-end office party is no walk in the park. With so much to think about and plan for, you must start your preparations well in advance. Such preparations can come in the way of running your business, however, and it’s easy to get side-tracked when you have a million other things going on. For those of you who may find all of this office party planning overwhelming, the perfect solution exists.

Thousands of businesses around the world hire a virtual assistant to take care of all their year-end office party planning. Virtual assistants are highly-skilled professionals who work remotely and help small to medium-sized businesses with all types of event planning and preparation throughout the year.

Not only are they efficient at planning parties and events, but they are extremely skilled with travel research and scheduling, calendar management, handling credit card and bank statements, document filing and formatting, email management, transcriptions, and PowerPoint presentations, amongst a whole portfolio of talents that make your life easier. Hire a virtual assistant – it could be the best decision you’ve ever made!


Debora Franks

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