The workplace’s holiday party is a very specific kind of event, and planners often find themselves facing a few conflicting objectives. It has to be fun without becoming disorderly, memorable without breaking the bank. No matter the size of the office or particular industry an organization serves, the following are few critical ideas to ensure that a company event ends the year on a fun note.

Set the budget and use it wisely

There is something to be said for a large and extravagant holiday party – if budgets allow. The Business Journals contributor Jay Starkman explained that deciding on the right level of investment for an end-of-year gathering is an in-depth process that sends a message to employees. For instance, an organization coming off of a difficult quarter could seem callous holding an enormous bash, especially if employees suffered layoffs.

Starkman added that companies sending out positive signals and riding the momentum of a good quarter should likewise make a comparatively large investment. If the business is thriving but parties and celebratory gatherings remain Spartan, the employees – the people honored by the parties – may feel their contributions aren’t valued.

Select entertainment

While a party that consists of just social time can be compelling in its own right, companies with money to invest can go with structured entertainment. Inc. magazine recently offered a timely reminder that music or more esoteric performers can liven up a gathering. There is a caveat: Planners should make sure they sign the contracts for entertainers well ahead of time to avoid the rush come holiday booking season.

Whether there is a flashy entertainment show or simply end-of-year remarks from the higher-ups, your company’s party should be enlivened by high-quality audio-visual presentation. As with any other corporate gathering, the holiday party is a way for a business to send a message about the health of the company. Weak presentation could unintentionally leave workers less confident in their employers. An AR experience – for example, an office “scavenger hunt” that employees can use their smart phones to take part in – is a great alternative to traditional entertainment options that can create an unforgettable event.

Time to celebrate the holidays with the whole office team.

Consider a sober approach

Recent events have some event planners looking at holiday gatherings with new eyes, according to Time magazine. Preventing workplace harassment has become a front-burner issue, with recent high-profile scandals raising awareness of just how many people are harassed every year. Planners may now be viewing end-of-year gatherings as liabilities. Removing free alcohol from the menu could be a way to dampen this feeling of danger.

Time explained that rather than banning drinking outright, prominent organizations are switching from open bars to drink-ticket schemes in which each employee has a limited number of beverages available. Lessening the risk of excessive drinking and keeping a vigilant eye out for people being exposed to uncomfortable situations can help companies keep the mood festive, not threatening.

Look ahead to next year

When the party’s done and the guests have gone home, it’s time to brainstorm. Was the party fun? How was the venue? The entertainment? You can even employ a second-screen platform to receive honest feedback from your team. Adding this interactive element to a speaker’s end-of-year keynote may also help employees’ minds on the content of what he or she is discussing. That could be an important step, because festive cheer and rapt attention don’t always go together.

Taking the holiday party seriously and planning next year’s with a strategic and thoughtful approach can be valuable. All corporate gatherings have the potential to impact employee morale, even if they’re held in the name of fun.


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