Your Guide to Planning the Perfect Office Party
Perhaps you have offered to organise this year’s party and you are looking for some fantastic ideas, or perhaps it’s been delegated to you and you are dreading the thought of it - either way this is your turn to arrange the office party – a big responsibility, after all you need to achieve that balance of thanking everyone for their hard work and commitment to the organisation over the past few months and motivate them for the future. Who:
The annual office Christmas party is essential for good team building, staff motivation, rewarding employees and saying thank you for the hard work over previous months. To put it bluntly the Christmas party is as much a Great British tradition as presents and the Queens speech!
This guide has been put together to help you through the potential mine field of planning a Christmas party to hopefully ensure that you, and indeed your guests, have a truly fantastic time that will be talked about (for all the right reasons of course!) for years to come. Hospitality Line is a major player in event management and seasonal party offerings. It is not intended to be exhaustive but hopefully offers some sensible Do’s and some Don’ts and will point you in the right direction for THE most important Company social function of the year
Your starting point should be to prepare a brief for the event and we’ll help you do that with some pointers to prepare your brief:
- How many people do you expect to attend?
- With partners or without?
- Average age?
- Will the attendees primarily be female or male?
- Interests and a theme relevant to your business?
Maximising your budget:
- When are you looking for the event to take place – midweek or weekend?
- Is December a sensible time for your business or would January be a more viable option (it’s not that uncommon for Companies to do this for a number of reasons including staff availability and better value for money).
- Is a lunch a more feasible option?
- What have you done in the past?
- What worked and what perhaps lacked that bit of sparkle that everyone had been anticipating?
- What style of party fits in with your Company’s values and goals?
- Does the boss want an exclusive venue solely for your group where they can make a speech, or are you looking to let your hair down with all the trimmings and formalities taken care of in a larger venue?
- Or perhaps you would like the best of both worlds – arrival drinks and dinner (or lunch) with your group then entertainment shared with others?
Getting the event right:
- What is your budget?
- Does it include VAT?
- Perhaps you could consider a summer party and a Christmas party?
- Check with HMRC for the current taxation level per employee per annum, anything above that and clearly there will be a higher cost to the company as a result.
- What kind of event did you have in mind?
- Is the plan to have a few drinks, something to eat and then a bit of dancing, or are you and your colleagues looking for something unique and different
- How adventurous can you be?
- Could you take your guests out of town, out of the UK, or even out of Europe? (We already think our parties are out of this World!)
- Have you considered a trip to Paris or Brussels on Eurostar – a chance to experience a more relaxed vibe taking in a chateaux or a traditional restaurant
- How about getting to the event and more importantly how will you all get home afterwards?
- How many of your colleagues will require an overnight stay?
- Any specific dietary or religious requirements that might need to be considered.
So, congratulations! You have successfully created your brief and now you’ll want to start investigating what’s on offer - whether it is “off the shelf” or "bespoke”
So now send the details through to our dedicated team of event planners and let Hospitality Line take the hassle out of your office Christmas party.
We have a great deal of expertise in this area and can save you time, effort and mental strife! We won’t charge you any more than if you arranged it all yourself and we will also:
- make your money go further by suggesting ways you can save money
- offer you very competitive hotel deals that may well be cheaper than the taxi fare home
- Arrange transportation to and from the event as well as any additional finishing touches you need.
- Arrange everything for you from sourcing the event to providing you with a link to our brand new full event management website to manage everyone's requirements, which will save you time and hassle.
Some Do’s & Dont’s
- DO prepare that brief before you consider doing anything else–it will save you time, effort, anguish and money in the long run.
- DO think about how many people and identify which venues are suitable
- DO give a great deal of thought to the style of the event that you want to create
- DO canvass a small number of your work colleagues with your thoughts before booking, however you won’t be able to meet everyone’s wishes so be realistic
- DO avoid the last Friday before Christmas as availability is much more restricted and prices can be higher. Perhaps consider a lunch
- DO check all the details and the small print before booking –if you don’t it will cost you money. Is service, vat and room hire included? What are the prices of drinks with dinner etc?
- DO remember that you are booking for a set number of people and if numbers change you run the risk of not having enough space as colleagues decide to attend late in the day, or losing money for cancelled spaces. Changes to the original booking can become very time consuming and confusing for you, your colleagues and the venue!
- DO save the date and get your invites out early – then there are no excuses for not getting everyone there.
- DO ensure that the entertainment is suitable to your audience – some “entertainment” can be subjective, after all we don’t all appreciate the same humour!
- DO be clear on how you want everyone greeted on arrival - cash bar v account bar; champagne (not as expensive as you may think as people generally drink less); wine; beer; soft drinks; service staff attending; music and lighting levels; canapés etc. First impressions are the memorable ones.
- DO consider guests travel plans getting to the venue and home again
- DO be adventurous – we specialise in creating the “WOW” factor
- DO consider using a specialist event planning company (such as Hospitalityline of course) to put your event together for you.
- DO check your supplier’s financial integrity. Look for membership of trade associations and beware of offers that seem too good to be true!
- And most importantly DO make sure you are the member of staff who everyone is congratulating for organising such a fantastic and unforgettable event.
- DON’T leave it too late to start planning your Christmas event - big events take time to plan properly and the popular venues fill up early.
- DON’T forget to consider others when you’re planning the format of your event.
- DON’T create the opportunity for guests to consume too much alcohol too quickly – this can be avoided with good planning and communication to the venue
- DON’T necessarily repeat what has been successful in the past. Vary the offering and leave some elements of your event as a surprise to create a wow factor...
- DON’T pick a date or time that is likely to clash with other events or could create travel challenges with colleagues from other office
- DON’T be too adventurous with the meal choice, we can help you get the balance right and please don’t let the vegetarian alternative be an afterthought...
- DON’T change the brief after you’ve agreed the specification. Stick to what you’ve agreed if you can –it will avoid mistakes being made.
- DON’T dabble! If you’re going to let someone arrange your event let them do it. That is not to say that you shouldn’t query how things are being done or what they will cost.
- DON’T forget to think of everyone’s needs when you’re planning the evening, from MD to office junior everyone needs to feel comfortable.
- And of course DON’T ignore the services of specialist event planners. The right one’s will add value to your event, save you time and effort and may work the budget harder for you.
Louisa's Top Tip: most party venues offer a discounts of up to 20% on pre-booked drinks, so not only does it save time and hassle but it also keeps costs under control
Cheryl’s Top Tip: We can arrange transportation from your office and back again which will easier and cheaper than arranging individual taxis. It’s not too much fun waiting in a taxi queue !
Gemma’s Top Tip: We have excellent rates with hundreds of hotels and often a hotel is cheaper than a taxi home, plus a full English Breakfast is the perfect remedy to the Christmas Party
Debbie’s Top Tip: We’ve created the ideal event management tool – www.checkmyevent.co.uk, where you can manage all aspects of your party, including attendees and meal requirements so it really does take the hassle out of chasing everybody up for their menu choices.
Sophie’s Top Tip: You can send everyone the link to www.checkmyevent.co.uk so they can view all the party details, including a countdown to party day, so it will save answering the same question one hundred times!
www.hospitalityline.co.uk provide both off the shelf and bespoke event solutions with events nationwide and in other key European destinations on land and afloat!