The holidays are a really fun time of year. But planning the holiday office party? That can be a real challenge. Between having to work around budget constraints, time constraints, and myriad preferences in food, drinks and activities, event planners have their work cut out for them!

Christmas has come a little early this year and we’re going to give you a gift we hope keeps on giving: a company holiday party planning DOs and DON’Ts list to ensure your guests have an awesome (and safe) time with hopefully no awkward moments. 

Let’s unwrap that package…

What to DO and NOT Do When Planning Your Holiday Event

DO: Pick a Time Most People Will be Available

The whole point of throwing a company holiday party is to gather your team and allow everyone to let their hair down and have some fun together. To have the best possible turnout, choose a day and time when most everyone will be able to attend. If you have a global staff and will be throwing a hybrid (virtual + in-person) party, be sure to consider the possible different time zones, then select one where the majority of your team will be awake and ready to party.

Two things to keep in mind:

  1. The earlier you book a venue, the more likely you will be to have a choice of dates. 
  2. 2) You’ll want to give your team plenty of notice so they can mark their calendars.  

And that leads us into our next DO…

DO: Send Out Party Invitations

Sure, you can just announce the party during one of your meetings, but sending out official invitations will generate far more buzz and excitement with your team members. And practically speaking, holiday party invitations allow you to share important information such as dress code, guest allowances and RSVP instructions. If your party is virtual or hybrid, you can also include the URL link in your invitations.

DON’T: Ignore Holiday Party Safety Precautions

While creating a fun and memorable experience that celebrates your staff should be your #1 priority, ensuring everyone’s safety should also be top of mind. There are multiple precautions you will want to take into consideration when planning a company holiday party:

  • Does anyone on your staff have any serious food allergies? You’ll need to take steps to avoid cross contamination.
  • If you’ll be serving alcohol, be sure to arrange transportation, encourage designated drivers and/or provide lodging.
  • Wintertime is peak flu season so provide hand sanitizer and book a space where there is space and good ventilation.

The safer your guests are, the more fun and successful your holiday party will be.

DO: Set Clear Guidelines for Guests

We’ve all been at those office holiday parties where things sometimes get… awkward. Yes, we want our employees to let their hair down after working hard all year. But there still needs to be some semblance of professionalism at your event. For this reason, it’s important to set some clear guidelines on conduct so your event is a blast but your team is positively reflecting your company and its values. 

DON’T: Host Separate Holiday Parties for Managers and Employees

Company holiday parties are about bringing people together. If you host separate parties for upper management and general employees, what kind of message does that send? Not the right one. It’s fine to plan team celebrations that are independent of your main company event, and these can be targeted at specific groups in your organization. But your official holiday party should include all employees and everyone should be treated equally. 

DO: Tailor Your Choices to Your Staff

Throwing a successful company holiday party is less about spending a lot of money and going over the top with food and drink. You should really focus on who your employees are and what their tastes are. For instance, if your team is made up mostly of parents, consider throwing a family-friendly party. If your team is mostly young, hip employees, perhaps a holiday pub crawl or something similar would be a better fit. Don’t forget, you can always poll your team for ideas and suggestions. 

DON’T: Leave Your Guests to Entertain Themselves

Your guests arrive all decked out in their best holiday outfits and then… mingle for a few hours? Planning your company holiday party should be about more than just booking a cool venue and hiring a great caterer and mixologist. Be sure to offer some exciting entertainment like live music performances, activities, games, and contests to occupy your team’s time. Good parties allow free time to mingle but also balance structured activities as well.

DO: Give Out Swag

‘Tis the season for gift giving and your team will surely appreciate a bit of swag. Send guests off on a high note with festive favors and company swag they will actually love!

The Wrap

Don’t leave your company holiday party up to chance. Follow these Dos and DON’Ts to ensure your employees have a fun, safe and memorable time. And if you need any help planning any aspect of your holiday party, give us a jingle. 


Corporate Event Management
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