How To Throw An Office Holiday Party

By Emily Kelley | December 6, 2018 | Office Culture / Morale

throw office party team celebrating

So you’ve been given the daunting, but exciting task to plan this year’s office holiday party. 

How do you coordinate schedules, get the right food and make it go off without a hitch? Our fool-proof guide will make you the perfect host.

Food

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No matter the size of your organization, food is always a stressful choice. Some people prefer healthier options, everyone has a food allergy and dietary restrictions make dining choices difficult.

How do you know what to pick? We recommend sending out a one question survey to ask about food allergies and dietary restrictions, around 2 weeks before the event. This will give you plenty of time to decide what options are best for your team.

We suggest having a smaller quantity of several food options, to give every person the choices that they prefer. Safe bets usually include:

 

Drinks

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Ah, alcohol. The best and worst thing about every holiday office party. If your company is choosing to have a boozy holiday celebration, then there are a few factors to consider.

  1. When is the party?
  2. What is the vibe?
  3. What are the expectations?

If your office holiday party is happening in the afternoon after a half-day, then maybe take it light on the liquor. Everyone still needs to be able to drive home later. Wine is a great choice for these events, as they are easy to portion out.

The atmosphere makes a huge difference when planning your alcoholic beverage. If you work at a suit-and-tie accounting firm, then bringing a beer keg may not be appropriate. Opt for champagne, a classic celebration beverage. Or maybe your startup loves Friday happy hours- try putting together a bar cart of fun, festive ingredients to create zany cocktails.

Know your office. If the marketing team tends to take advantage of the open bar to an extreme, then make sure that everyone understands the expectations before they arrive. If you want to have alcoholic drinks but want to keep things in line, try a ticket system. Give each employee 2 drink tickets. To get a drink, they’ll need to hand a ticket to a designated “bartender”. This is the most fun when your bartender is a supervisor or boss.

Many companies opt for “mocktails”, delicious non-alcoholic beverages that help get everyone in the festive mood without the added pressure of drinking at work.

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What to Do

Make yourself a general schedule of the holiday office party, and plan for these events:

  • Cocktail Hour
  • Ice Breakers
  • Exchange Gifts
  • Music & Dancing

It doesn’t have to be an exactly structured event- nobody likes a stuffy host who stops great conversations to start a game! Remember that your schedule is a guideline, not an exact rule. Things may not go exactly according to plan, and that is okay.

For the first 30 minutes-ish, plan for arrivals and mingling. Place out appetizers and cocktails/mocktails at this time. Also feel free to include any casual activities where people can walk around to different “stations”.

One unique idea is to place out construction paper and markers on a table, asking your employees to write holiday cards for nursing homes or children’s hospitals. This is an easy, affordable opportunity to give back to the community and share in the spirit of the holiday season.

Every holiday party needs some kind of gift exchange. If you work in a smaller office, this may be a great chance for a Secret Santa exchange. You can use an online generator, where people can submit their names and suggested gift ideas, within the designated price range. If your team is bigger than 10-15 people, we suggest a white elephant exchange, where you randomly exchange small, general holiday gifts.

What are your tips for throwing the best holiday party for your office? Share your favorite memories or advice in the comments!

 

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Check out some more great advice for your holiday party:

 

5 Tips for Throwing an Awesome Holiday Party- Creator

Holiday Office Party Do’s and Don’ts - Live Career

10 Holiday Celebration and Office Party Tips - The Spruce

How to Win Your Holiday Office Party - Reader’s Digest

 

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