Andy Williams said it best, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” The holidays are a time to celebrate with family, friends and colleagues. When planning your company’s holiday gathering, give attendees something interesting the moment they walk in, be that décor that wows or an atmosphere that excites. Plus, with elements like this, your holiday party will be social media-worthy, thus increasing its reach. Here are 11 tips to keep in mind to ensure your holiday party hits the mark.
Deck the Halls
Twinkling lights, ornaments, gingerbread houses, poinsettias, and greenery will add cheer. Work with the venue on lighting as gobo projections can go a long way to provide theatrical elements and make a big impression in the overall event space.
O Christmas Tree Scent
Often an overlooked aspect, adding scents to your event can really get people in the holiday spirit. Imagine walking into a space and catching a whiff of evergreen or peppermint. Some event planners work with aromatherapists to create unique fragrances for the events they orchestrate.
No Silent Night
Holiday music played in the background during your gathering will help all get in the spirit of the season. You must choose the right playlist and monitor the volume. Music should be loud enough to enjoy yet low enough to carry a conversation.
Plan for a Sleigh Ride (or Other Transportation)
Will you be providing transportation, or is everyone on their own? It may be a nice gesture to give your attendees an Uber code to get to and from the party on the company. This is particularly important to consider if you will be serving alcohol and public transit options are limited in your area, as the last thing you want is to be held liable for overserving a patron that led to a DUI incident.
Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree and Networking Along the Way
If one of the goals of the gathering is to get everyone chatting, a social event with stations will probably be ideal, as formal sit-down dinners often lead to less interaction.
Consider having a host or master of ceremonies. This should be someone who works at the company who is likable and a good speaker. A speech or two is a good idea but be sure to keep them brief. A holiday party can also be a great time to celebrate employee accomplishments from the past year. Do this early in the evening so team members can congratulate each other, a great way to spur conversation.
Consider having prizes available. Set up a raffle, another great way to spur networking as everyone gathers around a table to fill out entry forms and give the prizes out throughout the party.
The 12 Days of Christmas May Not Be the Best Time for Your Gathering
There is no doubt that December is one of the busiest times of the year. Some companies wait until after the holidays to have a party when there are fewer events on the calendar. Others prefer to host gatherings at the end of October, in November, or early December to get ahead of the seasonal rush. Some companies opt for a holiday luncheon instead of a dinner to keep it less formal and give employees the evening free.
Don’t Forget the Figgy Pudding
As with any food and beverage function, reach out to attendees to learn if there are any allergies that you should know about. The importance of the food and beverage portion of an event cannot be understated. Event planners report that in many cases, it is a deciding factor as to where the gathering will take place.
Since a holiday party is a time of celebration, include selections that may spur fond memories. Carving stations are encouraged as a personable chef can add a bit of interactivity to a gathering. When it comes to dessert, consider offering smaller portion sizes so guests can sample a variety of offerings.
The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
The amount of interactive fun you can inject into the gathering is related to your budget, but consider a DJ, band, dueling pianos, carolers, strolling magician, photo booth, or caricaturists.
Are you comfortable with an open bar, just having wine and beer, or no alcohol at all? Some companies give each employee drink coupons, so no one overindulges.
Serve a cocktail or mocktail that is made exclusively for your holiday party, incorporating your company or industry into its name. For instance, a holiday punch can be created by mixing cranberries, oranges, and pomegranates with either club soda or vodka, depending on your preference. Another possibility is a Candy Cane Cocktail that includes vanilla rum or peppermint schnapps. End the event with a hot cocoa bar complete with peppermint sticks and marshmallows.
Tis Better to Give Than Receive
Include some type of activity during the gathering that helps others. It can be as simple as having brown paper bags on hand for guests to decorate and then fill with candy, gum, a personal letter, or original poetry that are then sent to the troops overseas or as elaborate as having a build-a-bike activity in which the bikes are then donated to underprivileged kids. You can also host a toy or food drive during your event, which makes all involved feel good. Or have all who are attending bring socks or gift cards that will be donated to the homeless.
An important part of any gathering is the way it makes attendees feel. By incorporating some of these ideas into your party, your employees will walk away with not only holiday spirit but with a sense of pride for being part of such a thoughtful organization.