It’s holiday season again, a time for food, friends, fun—and the holiday office party. If you’re in charge of putting together the party this year, we want to help make sure your event is truly special, and that it’s an unforgettable time for everyone involved.
As one of Central Indiana’s most experienced event planners, we know a thing or two about putting on a successful party. We also know what potential snags to look out for, and how to keep your party from going off the rails. Here are nine of the biggest holiday office party pitfalls we’ve noticed over the years, and how to avoid them.
- Having too many cooks in the kitchen. Not the actual kitchen—we’re talking about too many people helping to plan the party. While it’s important to get feedback from your coworkers about what they want at the event, make sure one person has the final say. And delegate responsibilities, so everyone involved knows exactly what’s expected of them.
- Overlooking entertainment. Chatting it up can be fun, but after a while your partygoers will be looking for more to do. At the very least, make sure you have a DJ lined up to handle music for the evening. It’s even better if you can hire a band, as they can keep people’s attention and encourage dancing. You can also set up games or activities—just make sure there’s plenty to do to keep everyone busy for at least a few hours.
- Forgetting this is a work event. It’s easy to forget that the office party is a work-sponsored event and should be treated as such. Especially if you’re planning on serving alcohol, make sure you have safeguards in place to keep people from overindulging. One of the easiest ways to do this is by handing out vouchers that can be exchanged for drinks at the bar. Also, make sure you have transportation lined up for people who decide to drink.
- Skimping on food. Plan on your guests coming hungry—maybe really hungry. Free food has a way of making people eat more than usual! Serving a full meal is often more trouble than it’s worth, so a good strategy is to set up a large table full of hors d’oeuvres before guests arrive. Be sure you have plenty of options to accommodate vegetarians or people with dietary restrictions.
- Neglecting to plan far enough ahead. When it comes to planning your party, don’t think you can just wing it a day or two before. You need to start planning at least a full month ahead, but ideally you should plan ahead by six weeks or more. There are lots of factors to consider: the location, entertainment, food, how many people are getting invited, decorations, and much more. Don’t put it off!
- Not listening to what your coworkers want. While someone needs to be in charge of the event, you should still ask coworkers what they want at the party. Send out an office email asking for input about food, music, decorations, and ideal days/times, but let people know you aren’t able to fulfill every request.
- Not booking a venue. Are you assuming your office party will happen at your office? That might be a mistake for several reasons. One of the biggest is that it can be hard for people to relax and have fun when they are still at the office (even if it’s after hours). It can also create a burden on people who volunteer to help clean up. For these reasons, consider booking an off-site venue for your party, and be sure to reserve it well in advance.
- Picking the wrong day or time. Don’t just assume everyone wants to have the party on the Friday night before Christmas. Ask your coworkers what works best for them and be considerate of their answers. You might even find that it’s best to have the party during the day—assuming you can talk the boss into it.
- Neglecting to send RSVPs. It’s important to have a general idea about how many people you can expect. This will help you order the right amount of food and plan the right kinds of entertainment. Send out RSVPs a month or so before the event and try to get them back with at least two weeks to spare.
When planning your holiday office party there are lots of factors to consider; sometimes it can all get pretty overwhelming. If you’re looking for assistance planning or putting on your next office party, we’re here to help. We’ve been planning and producing holiday office parties for decades, and we can handle every aspect of your next big event. Contact us today to learn more!