Setting up a party for the office can be both an exciting and nerve-wracking experience. However, many employees realize that there are mostly only two types of office parties — “bad” and “just okay.” This is especially true if you’re planning your party on a tight budget.
Whether you’re planning to throw a holiday, victory, annual, or any random party in your office, it is possible to throw it with a bang that people will remember for years.
Well, put on your party-planning hat as these 8 tips will crown you the party planning wizard of the office.
Tip #1: Put Together An Office Party Committee
A great party can only be accomplished by a great planning committee. Getting a like-minded group of people together can turn that office party-talk-of-the-year into reality.
Assign your coworkers with tasks that they will not only enjoy but also do well. Get that extra-popular coworker to fill the guest list, your artsy-creative colleague to be the designer of the party, and the office foodie to choose the party’s food and beverage.
Overall, knowing that you need a team to pull off an amazing office party is the first necessary step towards greatness. You can ensure your office party is something to remember by choosing the right people to work on the planning committee.
If you find yourself swimming against the current and in need of a paddle, check out our article about winning friends and gaining influence in your office. It will help you with suggestions for ways to influence others by building stronger, more fruitful relationships.
Tip #2: Seek Input From Staff
Upon planning, there’s nothing wiser than asking the partygoers what they’d like in an office party. By making sure that most of them (if not everyone) are part of the planning, they’ll feel more invested, proud, and participative in the actual party.
Ask your staff for their ideas and recommendations. Ask them to help you build your ideal menu, your theme, and identify the services that will help you make the most of your festivities. As you receive a variety of suggestions, list them down and pick the best ones that suit your objectives, budget, and your workplace values and culture.
Otherwise, no matter how well-executed and gorgeous your party may be, if it’s not what the majority of people want, then it’s going to lack the oomph needed to make it a net-positive and memorable experience.
Tip #3: Choose a Fun Party Theme
One party planning ingredient that is often overlooked but shouldn’t be is the theme. Why? Because it sets the tone for the whole event, driving all of your planning decisions and helping to engage attendees. The theme you choose for your party will help determine the right atmosphere you need to create to pull it off.
How could you make your office party theme fun?
First, you need to clearly determine the type of party you’re planning. Will this be an after-hours party or an at-work celebration? Formal or casual? Activity or reception? Or, do you want to incorporate a charitable activity that will bring everyone together for a good cause?
Second, when you figure these out, brainstorm relevant experiences and activities your attendees will love. You can reflect on the personalities and preferences of your team members. Know their interests and what’s trending, and come up with a theme that the majority could truly enjoy.
You’ll obviously be limited in what you can do, but with a well thought-out and fun theme, your guests will be excited for the party to come.
Tip: No matter what party you choose, make sure it’s inclusive to everyone and always invite plus-ones.
If you’re still struggling with finding a suitable theme, here’s a list of 101 party theme ideas.
Tip #4: Provide Entertainment and Activities
If you want your office party to be memorable for the right reasons, a lineup of entertainment and activities can be a great way to do that. For instance, it’s safe to say that no one wants to get stuck in a room full of people without any music or engagement at all.
Great entertainment and activities come in all shapes and sizes. Jumpstart the fun by hosting a game or a contest — a little friendly competition can liven up your holiday party in no time. Some fun ideas include a caption contest, scavenger hunt, or even a trivia game focused on questions about the business and/or the season.
Further, a great way to help people get into the party spirit is to have entertainers such as a band, acoustic singer, or a dance group. Depending on the theme, you can also consider hiring a magician or mentalist who is skilled at engaging small groups, getting them talking, laughing, and enjoying a quick, unique shared magical experience.
Tip #5: Get The Food And Drink Right
It’s not a party without a delicious spread of food, so don’t overlook the menu. It doesn’t matter if the party takes place during odd hours, you still have to have some sort of snacks for your guests to nibble on.
One more thing you should not skimp on is the availability of drinks. Alcohol can be a great social lubricant to help break the ice in awkward situations, making the party more memorable.
However, be sure to have a nice mix of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages so that everyone is able to enjoy themselves. If there is alcohol, you’ll want someone to play the role of bartender. This will help prevent employees from becoming too inebriated. Plan carefully– will you have an open bar or just drink tickets? Beer and wine only or holiday-themed cocktails?
Remember that bad and not enough food & drinks are two problems that can turn an otherwise great party into a bit of a disaster. We strongly suggest to hire out the food catering to a reputable caterer in your area. A skilled and experienced catering team can assist you in determining the best foods and beverages to offer at your company’s party (Check out our event drink catering services if you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area).
Tip #6: Choose A Convenient Location
The location of the venue is always important for an office party. Whether you’re planning to hold the party outside or just in your workplace, make sure it’s convenient for everyone. Most people don’t want to attend a party if it’s too far from their office or home.
If you’re planning to throw a party outside of your workplace, make sure it’s a place that can easily accommodate your group without being too large or too small. Venues that are too small can make people feel claustrophobic and want to leave the event more quickly. Venues that are too big create awkwardness and discourage interaction.
Do some research beforehand and pick the venue that’s the right combination of size and uniqueness for your company. Verify that the venue has a reputation for being a reliable place to hold fun events. Once you are certain about a venue, book your date and time right away to avoid missing out.
Tip #7: Host Your Office Party in the Off-season
In most cases, the best time to have a party is during the last hour of the workday. This permits people to get their work done and then enjoy the event. You don’t want to host one in the middle of a workday when people should be maximizing productivity.
The day of the week is also important to consider. For example, if you hold your gathering on a Thursday night, people would most likely feel burnt out the following day.
If it’s a holiday party, the date should not coincide with the actual date of the holiday as people would most likely want to spend the day with their families or loved ones.
It would be advisable to have the party during non-work hours, but do not make the party mandatory or you might cause resentment and will have to pay the employees for their time.
Tip #8: Think About The Office Party Extras
A surprise raffle, photobooth, giveaways, souvenirs — these are just common examples of extras you can provide for your employees.
Yes, you are already giving them a party, but an extra small gift for everyone is a great gesture and spreads cheer. Have something nice, but not budget-breaking.
Other than material gifts, you can provide surprising extras for your employees by integrating recognition for their effort. An appreciation plaque, a special award, or a token of gratitude would give them a truly memorable day.
After all, your employees deserve to be recognized for their contributions to the success of your company. Make these recognitions a big highlight of the party to boost loyalty and morale.
The key to a successful office party isn’t a big budget or lots of flashy decorations. Instead, it’s thoughtfulness and careful planning. By accounting for elements like theme, food and drink, timing, and activities, you can ensure people have a good time and remember the event for years to come.
As you move forward with your party planning activities, remember to utilize the tips above to streamline the process from beginning to end. Your efforts will help ensure that your employees have an incredible time at your office party. When your employees have a great time, you can rest assured that loyalty and morale also increase across the board.
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