How To Plan a Company Holiday Party Your Employees Want to Attend

November 28, 2016
How To Plan a Company Holiday Party Your Employees Want to Attend

Note: This article was originally published in December 2015, but has been updated as of November 2016.  With Thanksgiving behind us, many employers are now focused on end-of-year holiday parties. However, in recent years, many employers have said “bah humbug” to the company holiday party. In fact, 30% of employers did not throw a holiday party in 2015, an increase of 13% from 2012, according to a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) study. It’s easy to understand why—they’re expensive, they’re a hassle to plan, and employees have other commitments during the holidays so attendance is not always what you’d hope it would be, right?

Why should we host a company holiday party?

Despite the common complaints, there are actually many benefits to having a company holiday party.  Here are the top four reasons you should consider one this year:

  • It builds culture. If you’re trying to establish your company culture (or if you already have and want to reinforce  it), the holiday party is a great opportunity to demonstrate what you’re all about. If you try to prioritize individual recognition, have an awards ceremony during the party. If establishing strong customer relations is your thing, consider inviting clients to the celebration.

    Plus, parties are fun! Your employees want to have a good time. While it might seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things, having a holiday party shows you’re a company that values employees’ happiness—and that you’re a genuinely fun place to work.

Looking for more HR tips? Get HR expertise on demand with our team of HR Advisors. Learn more now. 

  • It boosts morale. Ending the year on a high note with some fun and festivity can boost  morale, leaving employees with a high opinion of the company and their work as they break for the holidays. Plus, it can present an ideal way to kick off the New Year on optimistic footing, empowering your team to return ready to run at full speed.
  • It helps you and your employees get to know one another. Getting to know your employees as people, not simply as workers, is essential for teams to succeed. Interacting with your employees  at a social gathering is an excellent way to accomplish this goal. By listening to your employees interact with one another, with their guests, and with you, you can gain insight to inform how to work best with them in a professional setting.

    Celebrating together is also a great opportunity for your employees to get to know one another. Often times at the office, employees only get to interact with others within their department. Having an inclusive company holiday party affords your co-workers the opportunity to meet and mingle with people they might not otherwise get to talk to on a regular basis. Employee bonding in a social context is a key element of team building, which is necessary to produce the best results. And regardless of the bottom line, it’s just fun to get to know new people, especially in such a festive setting

  • It shows gratitude in a personal way. It’s true: giving your employees a year-end cash bonus or extra PTO is a pretty good way to say thank you for their hard work. However, they will also appreciate a more personal way of showing gratitude. Having a party for them says that you value them as both employees and people—they aren’t just a faceless entity you can throw a check at and call it personal recognition. If you really want to go the extra mile, you can hand out “awards” to employees at the party to show them that you truly appreciate their contribution to your organization.

Now that you’ve decided to host the party, how do you throw a party your employees actually want to attend? We get it—planning a party isn’t everyone’s forte, and can sometimes be a huge, time-consuming pain. We’re here to help! Looking for more HR tips? Get HR expertise on demand with our team of HR Advisors. Learn more now.  Use our company holiday party planning checklist to mix and match different party elements to design a sparkling holiday party that best suits your team. View it below, or print a version here.

The Company Holiday Party Checklist

  • Set a Date
    • Send a survey to employees with date options
    • Choose the date with the majority vote
    • Send a “save the date”
  • Budget It
    • Determine the maximum budget
    • Rank party elements by priority (entertainment, food, etc.)
    • Allocate budget based on priority (25% for food, 40% for entertainment, etc.)
    • Set aside some extra—just in case!
  • Type of Party
    • After-hours party
    • At-work celebration
    • Formal event
    • Casual affair
    • Themed party
    • Activity included (ice skating, lake cruise, etc.)
    • Packaged party (organized by venue or party planner)

Tip: No matter which party you choose, make sure it's inclusive to everyone and always invite plus-ones!

Looking for more HR tips? Get HR expertise on demand with our team of HR Advisors. Learn more now.

  • Venue
    • At your office
    • At a home
    • At a local venue (restaurant, bar, ice rink, etc.)

Tip: Consider the following: price, space, proximity to work, what is provided and what you will need to provide (furniture, staff, entertainment, equipment, cleanup service, etc.)

  • Transportation
    • Ride-share credit (Lyft, Uber, etc.)
    • Hire a bus
    • Have a sign-up sheet for a carpool
  • Food
    • Venue-provided food
    • Sit-down dinner with servers
    • Buffet
    • Floating appetizers (with wait staff or placed on a table?)
    • Potluck

Tip: Watch for allergies!

  • Drinks
    • Open bar
    • Drink tickets
    • Just beer and wine
    • Holiday-themed cocktails
  • Entertainment
    • High-energy beats for dancing
    • Low-key tunes
    • DJ
    • Live entertainment
    • A coworker’s awesome Spotify playlist
  • Extras
    • Photographer
    • Photobooth
    • Raffle
    • Time and space for “thank you” speeches
    • Holiday goody bags

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