If you read the title and thought “well hang on, it’s too early to talk about Christmas”, then it’s safe to say you were never the one that got assigned the happy task of organising the company Christmas party. Yes, it’s still too hot to think about skeletons and bats, let alone garlands and holly, but if you are holding back your organisational powers until you get that first whiff of pumpkin spice latte, you will wake up to the sudden realisation that time is running faster than you thought and that all the best venues have been taken for months. The perfect time to start planning your corporate Christmas party is, in fact, right about now. And you should treat this as a stand-alone project and devote it as much attention as any other respectable assignment, if you want to get to December without that familiar last-minute panic. We have a few tips that will help you save time and stress, and plan a spectacular Christmas party for your colleagues.
Project-manage your corporate Christmas party
Start by creating a simple planner, tracking every aspect of the organisation: venue, exact date & time, guest list, dietary restrictions and special menu requirements, entertainment, decor, transport and anything else that may be relevant to your project. The first relevant distinction you should be aware of is between elements of the organisational process that can be flexible and those which, once agreed upon, should not be altered. The former include such things as entertainment and decor, the latter include the venue and, unless it is absolutely necessary to change it, the date. Hiring a band or performer on a short notice, to replace your first option that fell through, is not much of an inconvenience, whereas finding a new venue or changing the date at your chosen venue will be progressively harder as the holidays draw nearer. It’s better to take your time at an earlier stage and get those details right the first time, rather than having to scramble to fix them later on.
Lunch, dinner or party?
With any other occasion, a corporate dinner would look like the obvious choice. When planning a corporate Christmas event, however, traditions and needs vary and intersect, and many will find a daytime event to be more convenient. A corporate Christmas lunch might be perfect opportunity to celebrate the holidays with your colleagues without altering anyone’s schedule too much. If you decide to go for a grand and official event, in which to see the current year off in style, exchange presents, maybe even invite families, then dinner, followed by a proper party, with a musical entertainment and plenty of dancing and socialising, is definitely the best option. It all comes down to the kind of vibe you want to create. If your event is taking place outside office hours, make sure you circulate a list of possible dates as early as possible, so as to maximise attendance.
It’s all about the food!
Food is the centrepiece of any event (particularly in Italy), that’s why you should take particular care choosing the menu or catering for your corporate Christmas party. Whether the event is taking place in a restaurant or you are going to hire a venue and bring in your own catering, you will still need to devote a significant part of your budget to feeding your attendees and try to get the best possible value for your money. Make sure you get a few quotes early on, so you can compare them and negotiate changes in advance. If you have chosen a theme for your Christmas party, try and pick a suitable menu that echoes your theme with its textures, colours and ingredients. You will also need to make sure everyone with specific dietary restrictions is catered for. Ideally, have at least two options for each course and enquire after your attendees’ needs in advance. Many first-time event organisers roll their eyes at this, but experience will teach you that being open to making changes to accommodate everyone requires little effort and has huge positive effects. Those who follow dietary restrictions, by choice or necessity, often feel excluded on social occasions and are deprived of the possibility of sharing a meal with others without either feeling like a burden or confining themselves to gatherings of people on the same diet. Inclusion and respect cost very little and are always noticed and appreciated.
When planning an event, teamwork is essential – and this goes for your company Christmas party too. If you have no previous experience of event planning, be aware that a small and motivated team will make work quicker and easier to manage: don’t spread dozens of small tasks across a large group, but rather divide your project into two or three main blocks and entrust each to a team member. Pick people who work well together and have flawless time management skills, since they will have to take care of the Christmas party project alongside their daily work assignments. If none of you have ever planned an event before, you will find this to be an incredibly effective team-building exercise.