The end of the year is quickly approaching, which means it is time to start planning your epic holiday party! The annual office party is an excellent way to celebrate another great year with your employees. Without a doubt, office parties are fun for most people. But, sometimes they can be really stressful, particularly if you're in charge of planning them.
Just think about it: everyone's got different tastes and preferences when having fun. Some people love to drink beer, and others prefer wine; some like quiet music while others need to dance the night away. These differences create so much tension when planning an event that everyone will enjoy-even if only temporarily.
The most important thing to remember is that the party should reflect your organization's personality and style. If the office style is laid-back, don’t go for a super formal affair-instead, try something more relaxed like a potluck-style party. On the other hand, if the staff is a vibrant, young, or flashy lot, go all out to the last detail!
No matter what kind of party you end up throwing, the following tips should help make your work a little easier. So, let’s dive into these 10 tips (plus a bonus) on how to set up the best end-of-year party.
Start Planning Early
What does the early bird do?
The earlier you start planning, the more time you’ll have to make sure everything is perfect. Planning a party involves a lot of work, so asking the right people to take care of different aspects will ensure it runs as smoothly as possible. Therefore, delegate tasks to available team members when you can so that it doesn’t get overwhelming
Make sure guests are aware of the dress code for the party so they can come appropriately dressed. If you're expecting inclement weather, have a Plan B ready to go if guests need to retire to another location with better weather protection.
Important note: Don’t break the bank when planning your party! Decide on a reasonable budget before you start planning and try to stay within your means. Remember, spending too much money doesn’t always equal a good time! Also, remember to have a plan for cleaning up afterward.
A Great Venue
When and where should it take place?
No end-of-year party is complete without a great location! Make sure to choose a place that will accommodate everyone in your group and has plenty of space for all the fun activities you have planned. Let’s run down some of the major things to consider when picking a venue.
Plenty of seating: To avoid overcrowding, ensure that there are enough seats for all of your guests. A limited amount of standing room can be ok, but make sure you provide enough comfortable seating arrangements.
Proper ventilation: Be aware of where guests will eat and drink, especially if they'll be near heat sources like fireplaces or kitchens. Tightly congested spaces with poor ventilation can cause serious health problems and down the mood.
Safe and reliable transportation options: Make sure partygoers have reliable transportation available to and from the venue. Access to multiple avenues like the bus or taxis is preferred, especially if you provide alcoholic refreshments. You don't want anyone drinking and driving! Also, consider setting up a designated driver or offering taxi coupons to guests.
Security measures in place: To avoid any incidents with partygoers, ensure the venue has security guards on staff during peak hours (around midnight). And make sure they're adequately trained and able to handle any emergencies that may arise.
A dance floor: Of course, you need a place where everyone can bust a move when "Macarena" comes on at midnight. Use your imagination to create that perfect dance floor experience.
Plenty of trash cans: Be sure to have plenty of trash cans available throughout your party area to prevent any unsightly messes from appearing as guests make their way through food, drinks, and other supplies.
A coat check: Guests will definitely appreciate a place to store their coats while enjoying the party. This will help keep the area clean and free of clutter, and it can also double as a place to store personal belongings.
Free WiFi: Guests will definitely want to share their fun experiences with others on social media. Make sure they have access to free wireless internet throughout the party area.
Staff members on hand: Be sure the venue’s staff is well-trained and ready to handle any guest requests, including questions about the event's logistics, food needs, coat check requests, etc. The best way to ensure this is by asking the management for plenty of staff members on hand who are available for these specific tasks.
Send Invitations Well in Advance
Who is invited?
Sending invitations early on will give your guests enough time to clear their schedules and make arrangements to attend. Avoid planning the party during peak hours such as Sunday afternoons or around major holidays. A weekday evening or Saturday night would be better suited. Sending invitations early also gives your guests plenty of time to RSVP, providing better logistics for the planning committee.
Decorate Your Venue Accordingly.
Start by selecting a theme.
The party is not complete without a fantastic atmosphere. Create an amazing ambiance that will allow everyone to have a night they'll remember for years to come. Setting the tone for your party early will help you plan ahead and ensure that everything flows smoothly. Think about what kind of atmosphere you want at your party, and pick a theme accordingly.
There are endless possibilities when it comes to party themes, so be sure to choose one that will appeal to your guests. Some of our favorites: holiday party, casino night, white elephant party, or team building activity party.
Decorating for an end-of-year party is half the fun! Make sure the decorations reflect the party theme. Include plenty of cute and festive decorations to make your party as special as the people attending. Deck out the venue with festive decorations like streamers, balloons, and lights. This will help set the mood for a fun and celebratory evening.
Serve Festive Food and Drinks.
What kind of food and drinks should you serve?
First off, one of the most critical elements when throwing any social event is good food and drink. Embody the spirit of the holiday season by serving festive drinks in Santa or snowman-themed cups. You can also have seasonal snacks on hand that are quick and easy to prepare––like pigs in a blanket, mini egg rolls, or miniature quiche!
For dinner, consider ordering catering from your favorite restaurant. If you do this, be sure to include food for any dietary restrictions or allergies your co-workers may have. Not only will they take care of the food, but they can also help with drinks if necessary. Plus, it's one less thing for you to worry about so you can actually enjoy the party yourself.
However, picking up food from restaurants can get expensive quickly. If your budget is constrained, you might also consider having everyone bring something instead of catering the entire event yourselves. You can make this easy by asking everyone to bring one item - for example, ask each person to bring either an appetizer, main dish, side dish, or dessert. This is also beneficial because it allows people to share their favorite dishes with others.
If you’re throwing a movie marathon, for example, provide different types of popcorn and candy, so everyone has something they like. For a casino night, set up a buffet table with all kinds of finger foods such as meatballs or chips. In general, think about what kind of small bites or appetizers fit your theme best. But as a general rule, keep the drinks flowing!
Add Surprise Elements
Have a few tricks up your sleeve!
It shouldn’t be too predictable. People expect the food, the wine, the garlands, etc. Why not throw them some curveballs and get their adrenaline pumping. After all, the most important thing is to have a good time. What are some ideas?
A photo booth: This is the perfect way to commemorate the night! Make sure your photo booth has fun props, fun backdrops, and plenty of space for attendees to take funny photos together.
Have a time capsule: Get a container and have everyone put in something. It could be a note to their older self or something that symbolizes an emotion they’ve experienced during the year. Opening the capsule could make for a fun activity at next year’s end-of-year event.
A champagne toast: This classic way to celebrate the end and beginning of a new (work) year will never go out of style. Get creative with this tradition by having guests use custom glasses or unique bottles that you've prepared ahead of time for this momentous occasion.
Have a Games Section
Not everyone wants to drink and dance at a party-some people would prefer to play games instead. If you want to appeal to a wider range of guests, set up a games section with different activities for people to participate in. This can be anything from casino games to giant Jenga! This is a great way to encourage socializing and will help bring in the new year with style. You could also prepare in advance for a gift exchange game. The classics will do-Secret Santa and White Elephant.
Music and Entertainment
What’s the right entertainment?
Music is another crucial element to any party. If you want your guests to get in the holiday spirit, provide them with some fun music to dance and sing along to! Make a mix of your favorite holiday tunes to get everyone in the festive spirit. If you have the budget, hire a DJ to really get the party going!
The right entertainment means different things for different people; some may want a DJ while others prefer a live band or karaoke. Make sure to have the entertainment you feel will be most effective in keeping your guests entertained and happy throughout the night!
Award Ceremony and Party Favors
It’s the giving season.
Give out awards or prizes at the end of the event. Everyone loves going home with a trophy! Even if it is just something small, this will help celebrate your employees’ achievements from this past year and get them excited for what's ahead in the next one. Management could arrange to surprise the team with a new set of ergonomic office chairs or standing desks as a way to usher in the new year in style.
You can also arrange to have fun hampers as party favors. It could be the product that your company deals in, a voucher for the services you offer, or a collection of things from unrelated sources. Holiday hampers aren’t complicated to put together. Throw in a novelty item, a bath or body product, a beverage, a snack, and some stationery, and you have yourself a basket worthy of any party.
The Bonus Section
Before we end this article, there are things we feel you should remember.
Send personal thank you notes to everyone once the party is over. Let your guests know that their presence meant something to you, and be sure they remember this event for years to come.
If your company is run by the higher-ups, try to involve them as much as possible in the planning process. This will ensure that they are on board with what you’re doing, and everything should be fine. Having senior management attend will also make it a bigger event and help morale at your workplace.
Safety should be a priority. If you want to serve liquor, make sure that there’s a designated driver or enough taxis to take people home later in the evening. Remember: this is an office party, not your local bar!
Have a plan B. No matter how well you plan, something may go wrong. Rather than stressing out over every little detail, have a plan B ready if something happens. This could mean having backup entertainment or food options available or even just reserving a space at a nearby bar or restaurant in case things get too crazy.
Last but not least, remember to enjoy yourself! After all, you're throwing this party for you and your colleagues - so let loose and have fun. You deserve it.
After a few rounds of drinks and some laughs, we hope you all have an enjoyable time at your company’s end-of-year office party. Remember to be safe and plan ahead so that the night goes smoothly! We've provided a collection of our best tips on how to get started with planning your very successful event. Merry Christmas from our team!