There are two types of people in the world – those who love to plan parties and those who do not. If you fall into the latter camp and you’ve been tasked with throwing the office Christmas do, it’s easy to be overcome with a sense of festive dread.
Fear not though, as planning the office Christmas party is easier than you think – especially if you’re well prepared. Our best advice is to break down the big event into manageable chunks and think about what you need to do in order to ensure your party goes off without a hitch. The best way to do this is to think on a linear scale; how far ahead do you need to book the venue, when is the best time to send out invites and how fast do you need to secure the entertainment? Once you’ve compiled all of these key elements into a visual list, putting your Christmas party ideas into action will seem a lot less scary.
To help you on your way (just call us Santa’s little elves), we’ve put together the essential organiser’s checklist to keep you on track. There may be a lot riding on the office Christmas party, but there’s no need to panic – follow our easy steps and you’ll be scoffing mince pies and belting out All I Want for Christmas before you know it.
6 months ahead
It's important to be realistic with your Christmas party budget
Start researching and booking venues
The most important part of planning a festive shindig is finding the right venue – and the good ones get booked up fast. It’s easy to get distracted by glitz and glamour, but remember to be practical. Take into consideration whether the location is convenient for the majority of the office, and make sure that the venue’s vibe aligns with your company’s brand.
Go on site visits
In an event organiser’s busy schedule, it’s hard to find the time to check out venues in person, but this is a crucial part of the planning process. Even the most well-known names are worth a walk around, and if you’ve used the venue previously, it’s worth heading back for a reminder, in case anything has changed since you were last there.
Think about your budget
Budgets can vary widely from company to company, so it’s important to party within your means and think about which aspects will require the most money based on the needs of your colleagues. For example, an office full of foodies will prefer a sit-down dinner, but if your workmates are more about drinking than dining, simple canapés will suffice.
3 months ahead
Would your guests prefer canapés or a sit-down meal?
Send out invites
Social calendars get very busy in the run up to Christmas, so it is important to give your staff plenty of notice about the office party. It’s also important to think about whether it’s worth spending money on invites – paper invites add a sense of grandeur and importance for more glamorous events, but if you’re on a budget, going paperless is the sensible option.
Sort the food and drink
Partygoers might 'forget' what they’ve said to their boss while drunk, but they won’t forget the drink itself. Event supplier Ultimate Drinks say "Having cocktails adds the wow factor to any event. To ensure there is something on the menu for all of your guests, its a good idea to have a varied selection based on different spirits. Little touches like replacing a traditional garnish with a candy cane, is a great way to give your cocktails a festive theme.'' The food you serve should reflect the party you’re throwing too – casual gatherings mean nibbles or bowl food, while smarter parties call for a slap-up dinner. Be mindful of dietary requirements and restrictions too: cater for vegans and keep teetotallers happy with mocktails.
Plan the entertainment
Music is at the heart of a great party, so if you want everyone on their feet, book a band or DJ. If you’re picking the former, save on budget by choosing one band that performs a variety of styles, while for the latter, you can include a song request slip on your invites, so everyone hears something they enjoy.
2 Months Ahead
A black and gold colour scheme will add a touch of glamour
Pick a theme
Theming is crucial to a well-executed party. We’d recommend finding a venue that has a built-in theme or will take care of the decor for you, but if you’re after a blank canvas, this year’s hottest trend is interactive elements – bigger budgets can opt for VR tech, while pocket-friendly options can be as simple as prop stations for pictures.
Plan the seating arrangements
Where you seat people can make or break the party vibe. A table plan will help to minimise chaos and make everyone feel included. Remember to take office politics into account too; it might be tempting to mix things up, but it’s safer to stick to the status quo – put besties together and keep those with frosty relationships far apart.
Think about transport
It’s hardly the most exciting part of the planning process, but transport is key to a well-run party. If you’re going from the office, a party bus is a great way to get people in the mood, while providing taxis at close of play will be much appreciated. We’d also recommend listing nearby transport links on your invites, so people can plan their route in advance.
1 Month Ahead
Beer pong is a fun and casual way to help people get to know each other
Break the ice in an adult way
Icebreakers are a fantastic way to get the party started, but remember that this is a grown-up affair and not a five-year-old’s birthday. We’d recommend steering clear of pass-the-parcel or magicians and instead opting for the more grown-up likes of beer (or Prosecco) pong, a fun game of bingo or even a tongue-in-cheek staff awards ceremony.
Plan for the morning after
Organising the evening isn’t the end of your responsibilities, as you also have to think about the next day. Send people away with bottles of water and DIY hangover kits to minimise their sore heads, and if your party is taking place midweek, lay on breakfast the next morning to make the prospect of a day’s work less miserable.
Congrats, you've just planned the work Christmas party! Now go and grab yourself a glass of fizz – you deserve it.
Planning a Christmas party for your friends too? Check out the cosiest winter pop ups in London right now.