Many hands make light work. Keep this proverb in mind if you've been tasked with planning a corporate Christmas party. You can't do it by yourself.
Plan The Party:
Form a party planning committee. Work with your employer to come up with a plan to encourage people to join the committee. Can the committee meet on company time, and can refreshments be served during the meeting?
Be Proactive: You'll want to include people from all departments, if possible, to get a mix of expectations and tastes, as well as keeping petty grievances to a minimum.
Plan the venue, food, and entertainment first since this is where you'll be spending most of your budget. Your plans for all three need to work well together. Does the venue have the sound system and stage your entertainer needs? Will there be a raucous wedding, with a rock band, in the next room that will drown out the magician that you've hired? Does the meal need to be complete before the entertainment starts because the entertainer will be interacting with the audience?
Be Proactive: Visit the venue and look at the layout as well as the area that your company will be using. In addition, consider if it will be easy for employees to get to the location.
Don't assume the restaurant can meet your expectations. Discuss your party ideas with the manager. If you want the meal to be concluded in one hour, the manager can tell you if that is possible.
It's A Party:
Yes, the company is having a party, and everyone will be in a festive holiday mood and ready to have fun. But with any company event, it's a good idea to have activities that build camaraderie. You can create team spirit with a mix of Christmas games.
Be Proactive: The entertainment can include some fun team building activities. Consider hiring an entertainer with an interactive show, one in which employees are included.
Decide if Christmas decorations will be used. Employees may be willing to make decorations or donate decorations they no longer use. Remember that decorating can be as simple as creating a fun party atmosphere by adding uplights to cast mood lighting on the walls.
Be Proactive: You don't want to be stuck with a truckload of decorations after the party. Put a “you win” sign under one chair at each table. That person wins the table centerpiece. Find a home for other decorations, perhaps donating them to a charity after the party.
No one wants another company mug. Give employees a small gift such as a flash drive. It's gender neutral, practical, and something that most people will use.
Be Proactive: Anticipate the type of gift that makes employees roll their eyes. If the item will have a company logo on it, make it small. Or instead of a logo, give an item that represents the company. If your company manufactures guitars, give everyone a guitar-shaped flash drive.
You'll need prizes for games, and you may want to award them for other activities. As with the gifts, employees don't want cheap items with a huge company logo on them. Give something of value that employees will be happy to receive.
Be Proactive: You need to decide how to best spend the money you've been given. Would employees rather have chicken to eat and expensive prizes or steak and non-monetary prizes? Most likely, winners would be happy if they could leave work one hour early on a Friday, wear jeans for a week, or park their car in the best spot.
Get to the party before other guests to put up decorations, put prizes on a display table and complete any other task that must be done. Decide, when you are planning the party, if you need a few people from the planning committee to help you.
Be Proactive: Make sure the party area will be available when you plan to arrive. If you need 2 hours to set up decorations, you don't want to find out the hard way that you don't have access to the area until an hour before the party.
You'll need to decide, possibly with your employer's input, if it would be best to refer to the company's party as a “holiday party” instead of a “Christmas party.”