How to Plan a Company Christmas Party in 20 Steps

A merry night to remember.

Reviewed by Chris Leitch

How to plan a company Christmas party

Company holiday parties are an excellent way to celebrate your team’s achievements and toast to the year ahead. When done right, they can be a festive, joyful and fun function that invites colleagues to engage with each other outside the office and in an informal setting.

If you’ve been tasked with putting together this year’s Christmas bash and don’t know where to start, then you’re at the right place! We’ve compiled a detailed step-by-step guide that will make the planning process merry and bright.

Pulling off the office Christmas party requires meticulous planning, but by following these steps, you can make sure that it will be a hit with your team.

Step 1: Plan ahead of time

When it comes to planning events, the earlier you start, the better. There are a lot of moving elements involved in the planning process, so giving yourself a couple of months to prepare is a wise move. For example, if you have a specific venue in mind, it’s important to book it in advance and ensure its availability — the same goes for your vendors.

Early planning can have a significant impact on the end result of your event, so give yourself plenty of time to ensure that everything goes smoothly. Plus, this will give you room to address any hiccups that might pop up, such as cancellations and delays that could otherwise affect the event.

Step 2: Create a budget

Before you can begin ironing out all the details of your event, you must determine what your budget is. So, the first step would be contacting the person in charge of finances and finding out what amount has been allocated to your Christmas party.

Once you have these financial details, you can create a budgetary plan and move forward. A good way to go about this is to create a spreadsheet detailing all the estimated prices for the venue, catering, entertainment, decorations, and so on. This will help you stay in line with your available budget and keep track of all costs. It would also be wise to reserve part of the overall amount in case of last-minute costs and upcharges.

Step 3: Get input from staff members

If you’re worried about putting together an event that everyone will love, then why not ask for your colleagues’ input?

You could create feedback forms where everyone can share ideas and recommendations for the party, including music, food, theme, and so on. You’ll then need to evaluate each suggestion and pick the ones that are best aligned with the available budget and your company’s culture.

Step 4: Put together a party committee

The main objective of a party committee is to make the planning process more manageable by delegating different tasks to others.

Start by asking who wants to be involved with the planning. Once you have recruited enough volunteers, assign different responsibilities to each of them. These could range from designing invitations to creating an RSVP list to purchasing decorations. The party committee could also lend a hand on the day of the event, allowing for smooth sailing.

Step 5: Choose a theme

Setting a theme for your party can make it an even more memorable and fun affair. There are numerous ideas to take inspiration from, such as:

  • black tie
  • masquerade ball
  • winter wonderland
  • Christmas in July
  • après ski
  • casino royale

But the options don’t stop there; you could also opt for alternative party ideas. such as a silent disco party, wine tasting, or Christmas bingo if you would rather take a more unconventional route with your festive plans.

With that being said, before choosing a theme, make sure to take into consideration your team’s feedback as well as your available budget, too. Both of these factors will play an important role in the party’s success.

Step 6: Set a date

When deciding possible dates for the corporate holiday party, take note of upcoming deadlines and projects to avoid any scheduling conflicts. For smaller teams, there’s also the option to create a poll with possible dates so that everyone can indicate when they would be available.

If you’re planning an evening event, then Fridays or Saturdays would be the best choice, as the next day would be a non-working day — that is if your company follows the traditional five-day workweek.

Once you have settled on a date (and have confirmed this with your venue), make sure to send out save-the-date emails to everyone at the office. The sooner you do, the better the turnout!

Step 7: Find the right venue

Finding the perfect space to host your event is key to its success.

Start by making a list of potential venues and contacting each of them to inquire about available dates and prices. Along with this information, take into account any extra offerings that may be included in the price, such as catering or entertainment. Other factors to consider include location accessibility and space capacity. Some possible venues you could look into include hotel function rooms, bars, clubs, gardens and restaurants.

Once you have narrowed down your options, consider visiting each venue to determine which will be the best fit for your event. Once you have reached a decision, book your venue as soon as possible to secure your desired date.

Step 8: Choose your caterer

Once you have your date, venue and theme figured out, it’s time to start thinking about other important details for your event. Namely: your caterer and menu.

The food and drinks that will be on offer should complement your party’s theme and format. You could opt for a buffet, a multiple-course meal or hors d'oeuvre. When drafting a menu, make sure to include options for colleagues with special dietary requirements so that everyone is accommodated.

If your selected venue offers in-house catering, this could be a more convenient and budget-friendly option. Alternatively, you could opt for external catering. Meanwhile, before making your choice, make sure to request a menu tasting so that you know the quality will be up to standard.

Step 9: Arrange entertainment

A party is not complete without a lineup of entertainment. The first thing to consider is music; be it a DJ or a live band, this will be crucial for setting the right tone and ambiance for your event.

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for more creative entertainment options, then consider including a magic show, an acrobatic performance, a standup comedy act or a dance group in the event’s itinerary. Of course, this will all depend on the scale of your event, location, budget and theme, so make sure to consider these factors when making your decision.

On a side note, don’t forget to clue in the venue about possible entertainment options to ensure that your rented space can accommodate you and your third-party providers.

Step 10: Plan activities

It’s also essential to include interactive activities that will keep everyone engaged and excited throughout the event. For example, you could organize a gift lottery allowing everyone to win fun prizes ranging from small gadgets to a Secret Santa present exchange to high-cost vouchers.

Another great idea would be to host employee awards, recognizing everyone’s achievements over the past year. Other fun activities could include a scavenger hunt, a costume contest or a trivia game, which could also be ideal for team building.

Whichever activities you go for, they’re guaranteed to liven up the party and get everyone involved.

Step 11: Include speeches and thank yous

While speeches may not be the highlight of every corporate party, they’re still an important detail not to be excluded. Indeed, having your CEO, along with other team leaders, express their gratitude and appreciation towards their staff and their efforts over the past year will add a nice touch to the event.

On a more practical note, make sure to invite your prospective speakers to deliver a speech early in the planning process so that they have adequate time to prepare for it. Once they have confirmed their availability, ensure to add a time slot for them in the event’s program.

Step 12: Create an itinerary

The next step in the party-planning process is to put together an itinerary detailing all key parts of the event. This includes the official start time, estimated arrival times for all external vendors and time slots for speeches, activities and all entertainment.

It’s wise to share this document (both physical and digital versions) with your planning committee, as well as the venue manager, to ensure that everyone is on the same page about the progression of the event. This will help you avoid any miscommunications and allow for everything to run smoothly both before and during the party.

Step 13: Set a dress code

Setting an appropriate dress code will contribute to the mood of your event. Different themes call for different attire; for example, a casino royale party could require tux and lux wear, while a masquerade ball asks for costumes and masks. So, based on the vibe you are striving for, give your guests instructions on attire style, ie: formal, semi-formal, black tie, and so on.

Step 14: Send out invitations

Once you’ve worked out all the major details for your event, it’s time to formally invite your team to the office Christmas bash.

When creating your invitations, keep the party’s theme and overall vibe in mind and choose a design that is aligned with both. Another nice touch would be to personalize each invitation by addressing them individually to each colleague.

Finally, make sure to include the most essential information, including the date and time of the event, venue address, dress code and any other event details that are pertinent for your guests to know in advance.

Step 15: Arrange transport

For the party to be a success, you must first ensure that everyone can get there. If the venue is in a remote location or out of town, you could hire private shuttles that will take everyone there. Alternatively, you could arrange carpooling between colleagues if the party is taking place during the workday or right after.

If organized transport is not needed and everyone is driving to the event individually, then make sure that there is sufficient parking space at the venue for everyone attending, including your vendors.

Step 16: Promote the event

There are numerous ways to promote the upcoming office party to your colleagues. For example, you could set up a virtual countdown clock, send out email reminders for RSVPing to the event and even share sneak peeks into the party-planning process through your company’s internal communication channels.

If you’re looking for ways to promote the event offline, then consider putting up posters in common areas of the office and sending out physical invitations.

While promoting the event might be an extra step in the planning process, it’s a great way to raise the anticipation and excitement of everyone attending the holiday party.

Step 17: Take care of decor

Decorations are important to every event and function but especially a festive one. Before making any purchases, survey the event space to get an idea of what sort of decorations, as well as how many, will be needed to make it feel as merry as possible.

Items such as garlands, candles, twinkling lights and baubles are a great way to create ambiance and set the right atmosphere for your event. Meanwhile, if you have the budget for it, then you could hire a professional event decorator who can make your vision come to life, and also check off one less thing from your to-do list.

Step 18: Add extra touches

Once you have the essentials for the party figured out, think about other details that could add to the overall experience. For example, you could set up a photo booth where everyone can commemorate the night with a little photographic souvenir. You can also include different props to make this more fun and whimsical.

Another additional touch could be party favors for all attendees — after all, it’s a Christmas party! You could put together gift baskets containing wine, chocolates and other goodies, or gift them vouchers for different stores or services (a spa day, for example, would be a definite crowd-pleaser).

It all comes down to the available budget you have at hand, but even something small could be a great gesture.

Step 19: Follow up

In the week before the event, you must start checking in with all your vendors to ensure everything is coming along as planned.

Call your caterer to confirm your menu, required quantities and special food requirements, as well as the time the food will be served at the event. You should do the same for your hired entertainers to double-check their availability and go over event details with them one last time.

Finally, you should speak with your venue manager to make sure your rented space is ready to welcome everyone and that additional measures have been taken for your entertainment and planned activities.

Step 20: Take care of last-minute preparations

On the day of the event, there will be a few things to take care of. Start by sending out a final email to all of those who will be attending, reminding them of the start time, theme, dress code and any other important details.

At this point, you should also have a copy of your itinerary at hand to check off pending tasks and ensure everything is coming along right on schedule. Liaise with the planning committee and ensure that everyone knows what their responsibilities are during the final preparations — from putting up decorations to setting tables and overseeing vendors’ setups.

Getting to the event space early will be a must to make sure all these final details are seen through, so, if needed, talk to your boss about leaving work early to have adequate time to take care of last-minute to-dos.

Key takeaways

Planning an office Christmas bash is no small feat; from the venue to the decor to the music to the party favors and everything else in between, there are a lot of considerations within the process. But with the help of our planning checklist, you can turn this into a successful event and a day to remember for your team!

Christmas Party Checklist

Download the free checklist

So, to recap:

  • Start planning as early as possible, and assemble a team to help with planning and execution.
  • Create a detailed itinerary, including entertainment and activities, and work around the available budget.
  • Make the event stand out with a theme and dress code.
  • Don’t forget to enjoy yourself and have fun!

Got a question or want to share your own tips? Let us know in the comments section below.