Pretty soon, Christmas music will live rent-free in our minds, malls will be madness, and Christmas lights will illuminate the night sky.

The holidays are right around the corner. It’s time to start planning your company party.

We know you have mixed emotions about this end-of-year party. It’s a lot of work, but it’s also a lot of fun. Plus, there’s pressure to top last year’s party! But the thing is, you’re all the wiser from the things you learned planning last year. And to help you even more, our DC corporate event planners are sharing nine ideas to help you take this year’s bash up another notch.

1. Choose the When and Where

First things first, choose a date. Many people in your office will be traveling around the holidays, so we recommend having the date on the calendar at least two to three months in advance. Being proactive about setting a date will ensure a better turnout.

The more exclusive your venue is, the further ahead you’ll need to book it. Get this crucial detail out of the way before you even start planning. Where do you envision your party? Make sure your venue is available, and since you’re planning far in advance, there may be some wiggle room on the date.

2. Delegate Like a Boss

You don’t have to do it all yourself. Assign tasks to those who are willing to help with the holiday party. Jobs you might assign include:

  • Calling venues
  • Designing invitations
  • Tracking expenses (cue the finance department)
  • Collecting RSVPs
  • Decorating
  • Food planning
  • Orchestrating entertainment
  • Setting up a webpage and social media pages for the event
  • Managing technology (including hybrid event production if you plan to have virtual options)

3. Establish a Budget

It’s essential to establish a budget from the get-go. Will you be planning the party on your own or hiring a corporate event planner? These are critical questions to ask before planning, so you know where to allocate your funds. Doing the planning yourself will be more stressful but cheaper. Hiring a professional planner will be more expensive but stress-free, and you’ll have access to many of the vendors that they are networked with.

Whichever direction you choose to go, establish a realistic budget and be transparent about it. Monitor it carefully to make sure you are staying within bounds.

4. Visualize the Vibe

Think ahead about what you hope to accomplish with this event. Are you trying to deepen connections between staff members? Reward your team for a blockbuster year? Motivate your staff for big gains in the coming year? Or simply give hardworking employees an opportunity to kick back and enjoy.

This end goal will help you establish your theme. Will it be elegant? Casual? Family-friendly? No kids allowed? The type of party you choose will affect your budget and even possibly other aspects like transportation.

Different options for your holiday office party include:

● Holiday Party at Work
In this situation, your holiday party would be an extension of work. Perhaps it happens during lunchtime or right after work. This is usually a more casual gathering at the office with food and drinks and possibly a gift exchange.

● After-hours Holiday Dinner
Another option is a holiday dinner. Simple to plan, food is provided, and it’s an excellent opportunity to chat outside of work. It’s also a great place to do a gift exchange and show employees you care but not take on too much stress. It may be moderately expensive depending on how many people show up, but still a relatively affordable option.

● Holiday Group Activity
Take your team on an adventure. Try an escape room, ice skating, boat cruise,or theme park. Keep everyone in mind when you plan an activity, accounting for diversity in age, religious persuasion, physical fitness, etc. A group activity can get quite pricey, but there’s a high chance your team will love it. There may be fewer opportunities for gift exchanges and team recognition ceremonies if you choose this option.

● Formal Party or Office Gala
Our personal favorite! This is your chance to throw the holiday party of the century. This would most likely take place on a Friday or Saturday night and have a prescribed dress code. This option takes dedication and lots of planning and may well be the most expensive option, but it also presents unique opportunities for customization and wowing the workforce.

5. Send out Invitations

Make sure your invitations match the type of party you choose. If it’s a casual break-room gathering, an email is just fine. If it’s a dinner party, try a festive digital invitaion. Consider designing formal invitations for a group activity or gala, and get them out early.

6. Figure out the Food

Food will be a significant aspect if you’re throwing a formal party. Are you providing a full meal? Just hors d’oeuvres? Dessert and drinks? People expect good food, and calories don’t count around the holidays, so don’t skimp. Make sure to get ahead of planning the food by:

  • Planning your menu
  • Calling catering companies to check availability and prices
  • Providing alternative options for those with dietary restrictions

7. Plan Entertainment

What will be the main event at your party? You’ll want to plan something to keep your guests entertained and enjoying themselves. This could entail old-fashioned games such as ring toss, corn hole, darts, or foosball. You could kick up the fun with creativity. Bring on the karaoke and cap it off with a gift exchange (or gag gift exchange).

More upscale parties might include a live band or DJ with dancing, an a capella choir, or a string quartet. Wrap up the evening with a speech from your CEO or award ceremony.

8. Gather RSVPs

You’re putting a lot of energy and personal time into planning this holiday party; make sure you get your list of RSVPs as the party gets closer so you know how to scale your food, seating, etc.

You can use technology to make the process more convenient for attendees. For large groups, try an app that generates a QR code when people register for the event. This code can then be used to check in with a swipe of their phone rather than waiting in long lines.

9. Kick Your Feet up

You’ve been working tirelessly to plan a perfect party. Once the event is here, make sure to enjoy. If things don’t go as planned, roll with it and learn from it. The holidays can be stressful; don’t let your holiday office party push you over the edge.

And if you are ready to delegate your holiday bash to a corporate event organizer this year, contact Andrew Roby Events. With more than a decade in corporate event planning in DC, Dallas, and Los Angeles and over 1,000 clients served, we have the experience and connections to elevate your holiday party to new heights.