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Design a Holiday Party Your Employees (and CFO) Will Love

Budgets are tight, but you can still plan a company gathering that brings your employees some holiday cheer. Particularly at a time when competition for top talent is fierce, companies need to ensure their employees feel valued and appreciated. According to a national survey conducted by BizBash and Seamless, holiday parties are highly important to office culture, strengthening workplace dynamics, improving coworker relationships, and increasing productivity.

Here are six tips to create a budget-friendly, end-of-year event your employees will love.

1. Pick the Right Venue
The success of your holiday party has a lot to do with where it’s held.  According to a Seamless survey, employees rank location second only to food in terms of what’s important for enjoying their company’s holiday party. While hosting at the office may be cost-effective, it doesn’t always feel “special” to employees, especially if they’re there 40+ hours a week. Don’t be afraid to investigate the feasibility of hosting at a local restaurant, or perhaps a nearby hotel, conference venue, or see if your office building has a large space you could outfit with rented lights, tables, chairs, linens, dinnerware, and dance floor.

2. Keep Them Well Fed
It should come as no surprise that employees rank food as the most important element of a successful party. So resist the urge to buy a few food platters from Costco. Whether you plan a sit-down dinner or passed hors d’oeuvres, most caterers can work with a budget, offering you different food choices your employees are certain to enjoy.

3. Decide Whether to Serve Alcohol
Regardless of venue location, it’s important to remember your holiday party is an employer-sponsored event.  If alcohol is served, steps should be taken to ensure libations are served and consumed responsibly. ThinkHR offers the following tips on how best to incorporate alcohol into a company holiday gathering:

  • Offer a cocktail hour prior to serving the meal, then close the bar once dinner is under way
  • Utilize a drink ticket system and establish a limit on the number of drinks served to each individual
  • Offer plenty of non-alcoholic options
  • Ensure bartenders are properly trained and will stop serving those who display signs of intoxication

Unfortunately, despite taking precautions, accidents do happen.  Before your event, review the company’s insurance liability policy to determine how a party-related injury could impact the organization.  The information may help you determine what role, if any, alcohol will play.

4. Make It Lively
A tight budget doesn’t mean you have to forego entertainment. In lieu of expensive, live entertainment, consider renting a sound system and create a holiday music mix or pipe in tunes from a Pandora or Spotify Christmas radio station. As the night continues and space allows, don’t be afraid to let employees “shake a leg.” The Seamless survey found that 20 percent of employees rank dancing as a high priority for their company party.

5. Remind Employees About Conduct
The rise of social media’s influence and lack of control over what employees post to their social channels makes higher-ups worry about what might happen at a holiday party. While you want employees to have a fun, memorable time, you want them to be safe and adhere to company policies. When sending employees their party invites, don’t be shy about adding a reminder that all policies in the employee handbook remain in force during the event.

6. Plan Transportation
How employees get to an outing is an often overlooked item on the event plan. If your employees have vehicles, does it make sense to have them drive themselves? What if your venue has limited parking? What options are available for those employees who don’t drive? Additionally, if alcohol will be served it may be wise to discourage employees from driving themselves.

When it comes to planning your holiday event, consider using GroundLink.  Our dedicated event managers understand the unique challenges of transportation planning and will work with you to determine the vehicle options that best meet your group size and budget. Our events team will prepare your event manifest, book your reservations, and confirm all details with you prior to your event. Best of all, our event management service is available free of charge. Learn more about our Event Ground Transportation Teamand book a stress-free and reliable ground transportation service for your company holiday party.


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