How to Plan an Office Christmas Party

christmas treeOh what joy the office Christmas party is! Some view it as an obligation that is difficult to get out of, others take bets on who drinks too much and makes fools out of themselves. However you see it, parties are intended to be fun and that's what yours will be with some careful planning.

If you've been chosen to plan the annual event, you're probably going to be in a time crunch and feeling a bit of pressure. We'll help you get organized and plan an office Christmas party that will allow the employees to let their hair down and have some festive fun.

Party Committee

Before you begin, form a committee of volunteers who are willing to help make the party a success. Make a list and assign tasks while everyone is present. Let it be known that everyone will depend on each other to carry out their duties and not to commit to something they're not happy doing. This will help weed out those who have a tendency to volunteer and back out later on, which creates more work for the others.

Budget

Find out what your budget is and designate funds for invitations, decorations, food, beverages, entertainment, and rentals. Get an estimate for professional services such as a caterer or D.J. and go from there. Large decisions should be made by the committee, smaller ones by individuals. When in doubt, ask questions. After all, it should be a group effort. Be sure to save receipts for every purchase you make and inform everyone to do the same.

Day / Time

You can't please everyone but you should be able to set a day and time for your company Christmas party that is near the holiday and favorable to most. The sooner you get the date set, the sooner you can begin hiring services you will need.

Keep in mind that a luncheon party will probably be more inexpensive than a dinner date because the meal will be lighter and so will the drinking. On the downside, some guests (outside of your company) may have a limited lunch hour and need to return to work well before the party is over.

Guest List

If you send out formal invitations, enclosing a R.S.V.P. with the card will help you find out how many guests to plan for. Spouses and significant others should always be invited. The success of your party will depend on it because many won't attend if they have to go solo. Furthermore, spouses may be offended if they're left off the invite.

It is goodwill to invite clients to the office Christmas party, they're what makes keeps your company in business. Some of them may not be able to make it, especially if they're from out-of-town, but an invite is a nice gesture that won't go unnoticed.

Invitations

Due to various religious beliefs, many companies and corporations prefer to call the annual office party a "holiday party." You may need to talk to the boss about the wording on the invitations. Once that is set, you can get a professional printer for formal invitations, design and print your own for casual invitations, or print off flyers to be put in the break room at your work place.

Whatever type of invitation you choose, make sure everyone is aware of the party but in no way convey the message that it is mandatory to attend. It's also a good idea to state any additional information right on the invitation. If you're having a gift exchange, it should be printed on the invitation, as well as the preferred dress code.

Location

If you have the space, you can hold the Christmas party right in the office. Want to change the atmosphere and forget about work? Take the party out of the office and have it at a large home or rent space from a club, restaurant, banquet hall. If you're planning on renting, reserve the space well in advance because December gets booked very quickly.

Decorations

You can decorate to your heart's desire if you have the space. Setting up a Christmas tree in the office is a crowd pleaser. If you don't have room for a large tree you can downsize or try a small, tabletop tree. Keep in mind that any type of lights can pose a fire hazard so talk to the boss about this. An artificial tree is safer than a real tree, which will have a tendency to dry out. Also, real trees need to be watered daily.

If a tree is not an option, buy a large poinsettia plant. Don't get carried away. Simple seasonal or Christmas decorations such as garland (for greenery) and red bows are often enough to change the atmosphere from stuffy to cheerful. A wreath on the door is always a pleasant surprise and doesn't require maintenance like a tree does.

Entertainment

If you're having an all-out shindig, consider renting a band or D.J. for entertainment. Allow sufficient space for them to set up and a dance floor for guests to cut loose. Most people love to dance and this is the perfect way to get them to revved up and raring to go.

Everyone loves to laugh and a comedian may be just the person to get guests to relax and forget about their holiday stress. Need another idea? A magician would surely take their mind off of any troubles when they're mesmerized by magic tricks. Bring in the holiday spirit by having a choir come in and sing Christmas carols. Reward the carolers with a donation, gift certificates or a complementary "goodie" bag from a popular store.