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Ten Easy Tips to Make Your Company Holiday Party Memorable

Published on Sep 12, 2014 under News

HolidayPartyAs the end of summer nears, an extremely important number comes to light: there are only fifteen Fridays left until Christmas.  No matter how you celebrate, everyone enjoys a fun and exciting company holiday party.  This annual party boosts company morale, brings employees together on a more personal level, and is a perfect time to get away from the stress of everyday work life and just have some fun!  Fall is the perfect time to start planning in order to ensure that your party will be the talk of the company (until you top it next year).  Here are some tips and tricks to help you along the way…

1.  Pick a Theme and try to incorporate it as much as possible throughout the night.  Some of the best that I have seen are High School Prom, Masquerade, Christmas in July, and Couple’s Costume.  All of these leave room for fun activities during the party.  Whether you are crowning Prom King & Queen, or handing out Most Creative Costume Award, employees love a chance to forget about business attire and show off their creative side.

2.  Think Ahead about where your employees are coming from and what their travel plans look like.  Having a larger soiree with many out-of-town guests?  Try and cover as many of their travel expenses as possible.  Employees are more likely to travel and attend your party if they aren’t worried about airfare, gas, hotel rooms, etc.   If all of your employees are in one city, consider contacting Uber or Lyft to set up a code so that everyone is able to make their way home safely on the company tab.

3.  Awards/Superlatives can be given out no matter the size of the company and the holiday party is the perfect time to recognize what your employees have achieved throughout the year.  Everyone obviously loves to be recognized for having the most sales, or bringing in the most clients, but what about something outside the box? Consider giving superlatives such as, “Best Dressed”, “Most Likely to . . .” or “It’s 5’oclock Somewhere”.  This brings people together in a more casual and personal way, which is what we all want from a party.

4.  Pick a Venue that offers a variety of catering options.  Half of the company hates seafood?  No problem, sliders are on the other side of the room.  Employ a large amount of vegan/vegetarians?  Right this way to the meat-free entrees.  Whether you choose a caterer that offers these options, or a restaurant with several unique sister menus to choose from (e.g., Eschelon Experiences), it is imperative your guests leave overly satisfied and maybe even overly stuffed.

5.  Make a Plan for alcohol way in advance, and make sure this plan is effectively communicated to all employees before arrival.  If you plan on having a full open bar, kudos (and good luck!) to you.  If just beer and wine are on your menu, be sure employees who prefer a nice Scotch are well aware that will be covered on their own tab.  Have a strict alcohol budget? No problem! Many venues and caterers will assist in a ticketing system or cap on your alcohol tab.  Think of issuing two tickets per guest or having a $2,000 company tab set up ahead of time, and anything beyond is not covered.  All of these options are perfectly acceptable and run very smoothly as long as communication is effective between yourself, your event coordinator, and your employees.

6.  Say Cheese!  Pick a way to document your event that coincides with your company culture.  There are many ways to do this whether you designate an Instagram hashtag, hire a professional photographer, bring in a photo booth, or place disposable cameras all around the room.  Find some way for your employees to look back and remember their favorite moments of the evening.  This is especially important for larger or growing companies; so that your employees can reconnect with those they had a great time with in previous years.

7.  Show It Off.  Take fun pictures with employees throughout the year and set some time aside during the evening for a slideshow.  Ask employees ahead of time to submit photos of themselves and coworkers whether on the job or bonding outside of work.  These memories are fun for everyone to look at and further cultivate the idea of colleagues becoming friends.

8.  “After the Party is the Hotel Lobby” Depending on the size and type of your company, R. Kelly could be spot on or totally lame with this statement.  Most venues where your dinner and awards are hosted will close up at around 10 or 11pm.  Even if you assume that your guests will head back to the hotel and go to bed at this time, I suggest a back up plan.  It could be as simple as sending out a Survey Monkey and finding out what most people are planning to do.  If even a quarter of your employees are planning on some sort of after party, what do you have to offer them?  A party bus to a downtown bar could be a fun way to wrap up the night.  A more cost-effective option is sending out an email blast to have everyone use that taxi code to meet up at a certain late-night spot.  This way everyone who wants to continue socializing can do so on their own tab and the party doesn’t have to end while the night is still young.

9.  Communicate with your event coordinator as much as possible.  Most venues offer this service with little or no cost to you, and they are there to take on your stress and make sure your vision for the party becomes a reality.  Ask them as many questions as you have!  If you are planning from out of town, ask for suggestions on hotel accommodations, menus, late night plans, etc.  Even if you are in town, get a tour, give them as much information as possible, and make sure you are both on the same page with every single detail.  It is your event coordinator’s job to take your ideas and turn them into something great, so find one that you trust to do so.

10.  Speech! Speech! Speech!  Yes, this is a party, but it is a party to celebrate your company’s accomplishments and a chance to hear the vision for next year. If your President or CEO is not in attendance, find someone to rally the crowd and congratulate everyone on a job well done for the past year, as well as a look at what next year will look like.  Employees are here to socialize and get to know one another, yes.  But they also are loving the company they work for and are there to celebrate its success.  Time the speech towards the end of the evening right before the party is winding down.  Give your employees time to socialize together for the majority of the evening, so that during this speech they can celebrate together, maybe as new friends or as old friends deepening their bond.  This is an imperative part of the gathering and probably the most influential in boosting morale for the coming year.

With these tips, I know that you can have the most memorable company holiday party to date!  Remember, communication is key and only FIFTEEN more casual Fridays until December 25th!  Happy fall and lets get to planning!


ALLISON POWERS, Event Coordinator, Faire Steak & Seafood

Allison was born in Marietta, GA and moved thirteen times before her family finally settled in Matthews, NC. She lived in the Raleigh area during elementary and middle school and, once she grew out of her awkward stage, decided to return to the area she had loved so much. Allison completed her BSBA at Appalachian State University in December 2013, with a major in Hospitality and Tourism Management. During her time at Appalachian State, she was an active member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority, and worked weekends as a server, banquet captain, and event planning intern at Chetola Mountain Resort in Blowing Rock, NC. Allison moved to Raleigh immediately following graduation and began working for a small wedding planning business. Deciding she enjoyed the challenge and fast-paced environment of the restaurant business, she began seeking further opportunities, and when luck met preparation, she found herself at Eschelon Experiences. Outside of being an Event Coordinator, Allison enjoys traveling, spending time with her six younger siblings, running, and watching Game of Thrones.

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