The holiday season is fast approaching. Not only do we all feel the stress of buying gifts, planning feasts with family and friends, and figuring out how to add more events to our calendars there is also the added weight on our shoulders to plan a fantastic corporate holiday event to celebrate the year with our employees. The tips below will help you figure out how to still pull off a memorable celebration even if you’re just now starting to plan your holiday event!
Have Yourself a Merry Little Meeting
Planning your holiday event months ahead sounds simple and smart. But time flies when you are having fun and those summer months can be distracting. Suddenly, it’s the end of August. The holidays are just a few short months away. Some venues are booked by mid-July or even earlier! Set a recurring reminder in your calendar to begin considering your holiday event by the beginning of August each year, if possible. You will need time to consider dates, venues, food and beverage, and what type of event you are going to host. You also need plenty of time to consider who you are inviting and your budget options, especially if they have changed over the last year.
Make a List and Check it Twice
Holiday event planning can be tough and the work can be exhausting. You must narrow your options, create a list, and a timeline in order to make the important decisions. You may worry about budget, including spouses/guests, serving alcohol, having a full dinner or just apps and small talk. Will you need music or entertainment? Will it be a formal or casual event? It can be mind boggling when trying to please everyone! Determining a budget, attendees, and the type of event early can save a lot of time and frustration. I recommend you start with this list:
- Who will organize and plan the event? Select a team and keep it small.
- What is your budget for the event? *Per person or max spend?
- How many elves do you have? Assume about an 80% attendance rate.
- Does your budget allow for your elves to bring a spouse/guest?
- Will you have a luncheon, a dinner event, or a happy hour? Will it be on or offsite?
- Do you plan to serve alcohol? Alcohol can sometimes be the most expensive item you provide and don’t forget to consider the liability.
- Note: #2-6 go hand in hand … Venue, type of event and including a guest or not largely depends on your budget. Don’t go above your means and plan accordingly. Once you set a budget, stick to it.
I’m Dreaming of the Right Venue
You’ve chosen your creative team, you’ve set a budget and have some thoughts in mind for a theme, and your employees will be super excited because this year is going to be amazing. You are on top of it all and ahead of the game! But slow that sleigh down because now you need to determine where to hold the event. Which venue has the best overall package, pricing, food, service? Do the research. Scour the internet. Ask co-workers and/or friends where they’ve attended previous events.
Contact at least 3-4 highly rated venues keeping your budget in mind. (Hint, going for the 5-star hotel in your area on a limited budget is a far stretch.) There are many options including restaurants, conference centers, country clubs, and the emerging trend of a food and gaming type venue like Dave and Busters. Choose a location based on proximity of your employees if you can or find a place close to your business location. You already know your employees are familiar with the area and are willing to make that drive in most circumstances.
Look at customer reviews, employee referrals, or maybe you had a meeting locally previously and developed a rapport with the venue contacts. Check up on the small things. Is there a bartender included? Or is that extra? Do the appetizers come by the piece or per person/serving? Maybe they have a speaker system and you could play music, as opposed to hiring a band that will cost a fortune. Maybe a hotel will offer discounted rooms to all attendees, so they don’t have to drive home. Are there options for appetizers, sit down dinners, and buffets? And will their menus appeal to various pallets? Ask about beverages and alcohol packages. And don’t forget to obtain, review, and discuss a contract. If there is something you really need or want and don’t see it or hear about it during their presentation, ask for it. They want your business. Negotiate! Stand firm on what you feel is appropriate for the price you are paying for the services provided.
“Cater” to your Elves
Always consider your employees. It is tremendously helpful for your event team to have insight on what your employees desire for an event. If your budget is low, planning a luncheon event for employees only might be the best option (then consider giving them the rest of the day off if you can swing it). If you plan an event after hours but are unable to allow employees to bring a guest, remember you are taking them away from their family and friends and your attendance could plummet, especially during the holiday season.
Use the event to ensure employees feel special. Remember this should be a year end celebration of your company and the employees who’ve worked very hard to support it. Incorporating raffles, drawings, and employee awards/recognition show them how much you appreciate them. If you’ve had past parties that did not turn out well, you already know you need to make changes this year. One option is to send out a survey with a few questions to obtain the information you need to plan this year’s event. Ask your employees what they would enjoy. You might be surprised at the responses. Involving employees shows you really want them to attend and to enjoy themselves.
By Golly, Be Jolly!
There is nothing worse than planning an event and the entire thing is a bomb! Ensure you catch employee’s attention with the invite. Make it easy for them to respond or RSVP and be clear and concise about how and when they are to respond. Send out email reminders, post fliers in the breakroom or restroom and promote fun discussions in the hallway or at the end of a staff meeting. Get your employees excited about the event by giving them choices, fun details, and don’t forget to remain culture and religion sensitive. This will let your employees know that you appreciate them for who they are, not what they celebrate or believe in.
Your holiday celebration can be the talk of the office, a morale booster and quite honestly a revenue building event if you plan it properly. Employees will leave feeling happy, appreciated and motivated to help your company grow! And finally, if you don’t have time, don’t have the knowledge, or just have more important business tasks to complete, call a professional. Hire an event planner or Virtual Assistant. Now you are in the know so go enjoy the rest of that eggnog…
Help is Available
Our team has the knowledge and experience to coordinate all types of events, even if you waited until the last minute. Stress less and breathe easier. Now you can focus on your business goals and know that your holiday event is covered, even if you waited until the last minute!
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