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How to Plan the Ultimate Staff and Management Approved Office Holiday Party

Regardless of your office dynamic, a perfectly planned end-of-the-year party can kick start the next chapter on a high note and bring everyone from all departments together to celebrate the holidays.

But how do you go about putting together the perfect shindig that’ll be the subject of watercooler talk well into the new year?

As our gift to you, we’ve compiled tips from some of Hollywood’s hottest event planners to help plan your next holiday party that both staff and management will love.

Nail Down the Basics of Your Holiday Party

First things first, before you can jump into all the nitty-gritty details, you’ll need to think of the big picture and nail down the high-level priorities.

Determine Your Budget

The absolute first thing to do when starting the planning process is to find out what your budget is.

The budget will set the tone for the entire event and influence every single element of your party, including food and venue, so it’s crucial to get this out of the way right off the bat.

Determine Your Staff Count

Before you start booking anything, you will also need to do a headcount to determine exactly how many staff are in your office to gauge who will likely be attending your party.

You will also need to decide if staff will be allowed to bring a spouse or plus one.

Both are crucial and will directly impact what venue you choose along with the food costs.

Location & Date

The venue is perhaps the most important element of any holiday party as it will often dictate the tone, theme, and possibly even food. Plus, your venue will likely eat up the biggest chunk of your budget, so choose wisely!

Look for a venue that’s tasteful, accessible, and is able to accommodate all your guests while still fitting into your budget. Also try to find a venue that can offer you a package that includes the cost of food. Ample parking and a location that is easily accessible to all of your guests are also key.

When searching for the perfect venue, be sure to arrange a site visit so you can see the venue in person before booking and ask questions in person.

Determine the Theme and Concept

While the obvious choice here is a holiday theme, you need more of a defined concept than just tinsel and Christmas trees to help you narrow down your décor choices and ensure your event is an elegant affair.

Examples of holiday-related themes include:

  • White Christmas
  • Silver bells
  • Candy cane forest
  • Ugly holiday sweaters
  • The North Pole
  • Winter wonderland

Your venue can also influence your theme and decor so be sure to take this into consideration when developing a concept for your party.

Choose A Team to Help with The Event Planning and Execution

No great party is planned alone, so don’t attempt to make this a one-person operation.

Set up a committee and ask for volunteers and assign them each an area to focus on, i.e. food, décor, activities, etc.

Collaborating with others and bouncing ideas off one another is also a great way to get staff engaged and drum up excitement for your event.

Set A Realistic Timeline and Benchmarks for Your Planning

Start the planning process early to ensure you are able to secure a venue and pull off your event without a ton of stress and headaches.

Begin the process in early fall at the latest to ensure you are able to book a venue for your chosen date.

Also give your planning committee firm deadlines for their respective tasks to help ensure things stay on track.

Menu Planning/Customization

A sit-down meal, buffet, or served hors d’oeuvres are the standard meal options for most events. However, you will need to find out early on if your venue provides the food, or if you will need to find an outside caterer.

Also make sure you check with your team and find out if anyone has certain dietary restrictions, such as:

  • Vegan
  • Vegetarian
  • Lactose intolerant
  • Gluten-free
  • Food allergies

When speaking with your venue or caterers, be sure to let them know of these restrictions to ensure everyone’s needs are accommodated.

Also look for a wide, varied menu that will appeal to a variety of tastes.

Invitations/Correspondence to Staff to Communicate Details

You can’t have a party if nobody shows up, so make sure your team knows well in advance that the party is happening and when it is taking place.

Communicate the date and theme early on in the planning process and send out reminders leading up to the event so that no one forgets.

Whether this is an all-staff email, e-vite, or formal paper invitations, all the relevant information regarding your event needs to be made clear to your staff well in advance so that people can start to make arrangements to attend.

It’s All in The Details

Your holiday party should be as unique as your company, so it’s important to pay close attention to details.

Here are some examples of small things you can include to help enhance your party and personalize the experience for your team.

Employee Appreciation

Your company would not be where it is today without the incredible team leading its efforts, and it’s important that your staff knows how much they are valued.

Your holiday party is the perfect time to celebrate the contributions made by employees and let your team know that they are appreciated.

This can be done through gifts, incentives, informal ‘awards,’ or even just verbal recognition.

Another great option is to make a donation to a charitable organization important to your company on behalf of the staff and make the announcement at the event.

Safe Rides Home

Your office holiday party is the one time a year everyone can get together to cut loose and blow off steam, which often means consuming alcohol.

To make sure everyone gets home safe at the end of the evening, reinforce the importance of sober driving and reimburse staff for Uber, Lyft, and taxi rides, or other responsible driving choices.

Signature Cocktail

A great way to add a personal touch to your holiday party is to create a signature cocktail for guests to sip on that they won’t find anywhere else.

And when naming your cocktail, try to relate it back to the holidays or incorporate some office humour or an inside joke.


In order to make it a night to remember, a party needs more than just free food and alcohol. To keep people engaged throughout the evening and create plenty of memories, plan some fun activities everyone will enjoy.

This could include:

  • Photobooth
  • Secret Santa gift exchange
  • Teambuilding games
  • Office trivia
  • Dancing
  • Contests

Incorporate Humour

A party should be anything but boring, so don’t be afraid to have fun and show off your silly side.

Lighten things up by:

  • Incorporating inside jokes
  • Telling funny stories during speeches
  • Projecting photos from previous staff events up on a screen

Whether it’s an informal bash at the office or a formal affair at a luxury hotel like the SoHo Hotel and Residences, personalizing your staff party to your company culture is key. So, celebrate responsibly, say thanks, and don’t forget to have a fantastic, fun-filled time too.