Been given the slightly scary task of arranging the corporate Christmas party? This is one occasion where winging it most definitely isn't an option! When you've got a large group of people to wine, dine and entertain, a plan is a must.
What you really need is a Christmas party checklist. I used to handle internal communications for a big broadcaster and the list featured below saw me through several festive corporate events. Even if you're using an events company or party planner, you'll still need to give them a brief.
Take a deep breath, write everything down, get organised and keep your cool. A Christmas party checklist will help you marshall your thoughts and keep track of all the different elements. Organising a corporate Christmas party is a bit like directing a play. Don't panic if one or two little hiccups happen along the way, that's life. It'll all come together beautifully on opening night.
Corporate Christmas Party Checklist
This is the biggie. Will you hold the event close to the office or even in a different town or city? Choose your venue carefully. This is one area in which an external event management company can be incredibly useful. The vast majority offer free venue finding, so take advantage. Follow the golden rule: the venue must be one that's easy for everyone to get to.
Christmas party season has expanded into November and even January in some cases. If you want December, book your venue now. This is one area in which you may need to be flexible. If you can, avoid typically busy times of the month. If your company has a set deadline each month, holding your office do the day before is a bad idea.
Some people set their own budget, others are told how much they can spend. Find out how much it is and whatever else you do – stick to it! Decide what elements are most important to your guests and spend accordingly. Oh, and always leave some funds to one side, just in case a couple of unexpected costs pop up.
Do you want one? Winter wonderland is always a winner but if you fancy something different, try a circus-themed event. Your party theme doesn't have to be festive. I went to a beach-themed Christmas party a few years ago and it was still being talked about the year after.
If you're having a theme, the décor will naturally reflect it. If not, what will you do to give your venue some sparkle? If you're planning a big event, get external help with the décor. There's nothing worse than being the one who's still hanging up lights when the first guests walk through the door.
Guest List and RSVPs
This is crucial: tackle the guest list ASAP and you'll be able to keep track of RSVPs and probable numbers before giving the venue final numbers for catering. This is something you can do off your own back or hand over to an event management company. It's a big job and can be a bit of a mission. If you want to make life easier, outsource it.
Food & Drink
This is a key part of any corporate Christmas party checklist. It's also quite tricky to get the balance right. Too much booze and too little food is a dangerous combination. Do have some fun with the drinks, though. Winter cocktails, mulled wine and cava are all nice and festive.
A sit down dinner is fine if you want a relaxed, sophisticated celebration but don't expect your guests to hit the dancefloor after a three-course dinner! A buffet is always a winner. They tend to be cheaper and far more sociable. Arrange a tasting session with the venue before confirming menu choices.
Music and Entertainment
Whether you go down the iPod playlist route, book a DJ or hire a band, you'll need tunes. Ditto entertainment. If it's a sit-down meal, after dinner speakers, table magicians and caricaturists work well. If you want to do something different, agiant six lane Scalextric will definitely do the trick! Don't forget you'll need to sort a PA system for things like announcements, music and quizzes.
Put a poster with local taxi company names and numbers in the lobby or reception area of your venue for when guests depart.
A debrief is another essential element of a corporate Christmas party checklist. When the dust has settled, take time out to evaluate. What elements were successful? Were there any pitfalls or problems? Make a note of pros and cons shortly after the event and you'll be able to plan an even better bash next year.
Call the events team for advice, information and ideas on 01773 766050.