By Holly Redheffer
You might be able to forget some minor things during the year and no one will notice but, when planning an event that everyone looks forward to all year—like the Holiday Party, you don’t want to forget these 12 essential items or no one will let you forget it, including your executive! The timeline to begin planning the event is almost as important as where you decide to hold the event. Working with a world-class private event planner willing to build a partnership with you is a great start.
1. Start Early
For a December party, you should book in August/September to guarantee your first choice venue. Ask your chosen locations if they offer “early booking incentives”—oftentimes you can take advantage of some amazing discounts or offers. Late booking is not ideal, but a few facilities will still be able to assist you if you’re willing to be flexible on your date.
2. Don’t Go Cheap
Great value doesn’t necessarily mean cheap. Design a solid, memorable holiday event and seek feedback from your coworkers. Companies that surveyed their employees after holiday events and received better than average scores had 27 percent higher first quarter retention figures than companies who skimped on items and didn’t ask for feedback.
3. Lock in the Date
There’s nothing worse than having a date in mind for your event and having to wait… and wait… for approval to sign the deal and get the date booked. Why not drop a deposit down? Think of it as an insurance policy so that you’re not scrambling to organize a holiday party at a bowling alley or even worse—at the corporate office on a Tuesday afternoon—because all your ideal venues were booked.
4. Go with a Proven Partner
When you go with who you know, not only is the chance higher that your visions for the event align, but your partner has a vested interest in hosting a great event for you, because you’re a valued, returning client. Negotiations often run smoother as well, since you’re familiar with the venue options and amenities and have a rapport with a contact there.
5. Maintain Standards
Don’t fret about being too picky—make sure everything at the venue is up to your standards. For instance, any experienced facility will have a 1-to-25 server-to-guest ratio. Going big? Ask your private event planner to at least provide a 1-to-20 server-to-guest ratio to ensure drinks continue to flow freely and the food is always hot.
6. Think Outside the Norm
When choosing your venue, skip the boring old “popular” choices. Take the traditional steakhouses off your list, and you can probably bet any place your team has been for lunch in the past month is also not ideal. Your venue can be a statement—show your team that you recognize and appreciate all the hard work they put in during the year. They’re worth more than a $15.99 surf & turf.
7. Provide Guest Transportation
Whether you’ll be providing alcoholic beverages or not at your holiday event, offering safe transportation home from your venue, or promoting ride-sharing or carpooling, is always a good idea. This could mean offering to reimburse cab fare home from the party, or designating a “key jar” at the door—the payoff can be worth the cost. Not only can such options increase the number of attendees who decide to come to your event, but everyone stays safe—which is the most important element.
8. Request a Tasting
Many top-rated venues provide food and beverage options or packages, but regardless of where you choose to order your food, always request a tasting so you know exactly what you’re getting. Plus, if your venue uses a specific chef, he/she has a more vested interest in cooking and creating delicious food, now that you have personally met.
9. Plan for Entertainment
While chatting outside the office with coworkers can be nice, the best holiday events are more than just an elegant, formal dinner or cocktail hour—they’re fun! Provide entertainment for your team that spans the entire timeframe of the party. Perhaps this means music, a dance floor, a DJ, a photo booth, or games (depending on what type of venue you choose). You can easily arrange entertainment options through your private event planner.
10. Organize Door Prizes & Goodies
Everyone loves gifts and door prizes and it can be a fun way to keep people involved throughout the night. Giving a gift to each employee can boost morale and promote loyalty to the company—and it’s always nice to walk away with something.
11. The More the Merrier
Include the guest/spouse/significant other on the invitation. Having a guest or significant other around can help your coworkers relax and enjoy themselves—and it’s good for team members to meet the important people in their coworkers’ lives. In 2012, “Inviting my Spouse or Significant Other” was the #1 employee request when surveyed regarding what they would have changed about their holiday event.
12. Don’t Flake!
This shouldn’t need to be said, but remember: DO NOT CANCEL. Even if you realize you’ve budgeted too much, don’t cancel the party unless you want to risk defections to other, more employee-friendly, companies. There are a number of ways you can cut costs, if necessary, such as removing the desserts or providing drink tickets instead of an open bar, but the holiday event celebrates loyalty and is a way to recognize and thank your coworkers for a year of hard work and productivity—and it’s an important year-end event.
If you follow these 12 Essential To-Do’s when planning your next amazing holiday party for your team, not only will you all have a good time, but your executive will soon see the benefits such as increased productivity, strengthened employee camaraderie, effective teamwork, and boosted office morale, transfer back into the workplace during the coming year. And your exec will thank you!