Ultimate guide on how to plan the works Christmas party: 8 top tips

It’s October, and already shop-bought Halloween decorations and fireworks are so last month. December is fast approaching, and you’ve been tasked with the impossible challenge of the last-minute office Christmas party, or perhaps despite everyone’s advice to start at-least 6 months early you find yourself in the darkest depths of google frantically searching up how to plan the works Christmas party whilst telling everyone you’ve got it under control. You’re nervous, you’re a wreck. Well fear not festive fool! As we’ve devised the ultimate easy to follow guide to help you pull off an epic last-minute office party. 

1. Establish a Realistic Budget

Don’t even think about going any further until you’ve got your budget. This may seem obvious, but you don’t want to find yourself inviting everyone and their dog to then find yourself explaining to everyone that the national blini shortage mandates a restriction of one per person. Your budget is going to dictate pretty much all of your decisions so set a clear and realistic budget on the offset to make sure you can get the most out of the allocated funds.  

people cheers with champagne flutes with golden confetti

2. Vibe check

Now you can determine the vibe of your party. I.e., will it be exclusively staff or spouses and clients? Are you going to vamp up the office space, hire a fabulous venue or even hold a more intimate party at someone’s house? It depends on your company’s size and culture.

3. Find a venue

Hiring a purposed space can take your event a notch, and it means that some poor soul’s not left to wait for everyone to leave their house or you’re not reminded of your overshare with Angela from HR every time you pass the office printer. As time is of the essence and if you’re concerned about budget, using smaller local venues might be your best bet. An event planner may be able to find these venues quicker for you and, wherever you decide to hold your event, will ensure your space looks professional and impresses, particularly if you decide not to opt for an external venue. 

elegant tablescape in professional venue

4. Set the Date and Send (E)Invitations

Setting the date can be tricky, and is often heavily dependent on the venue, catering and other suppliers. If you’ve got a small guestlist, selecting the right date is crucial to accommodate everyone’s schedules. Depending on the size of your company you may want to gather preferences from your team and choose a date that works for the majority. Thursdays are the new Friday when it comes to corporate parties with a 45% compared to 35% preference. But regardless of the day, the aim of the game is certainly to get your invites out early, particularly if you are party planning for a larger company. With little time E-Invites are most definitely your friend, get people to ‘save the date’, promising more details to follow.  

5. Prioritise Food and Drinks

Let’s cut the craft. The only real pull to attend any office Christmas party is for the free food and booze. It’s what they’ve really come for, so make sure it’s impressive. Select your caterers carefully to ensure a delicious selection of food and drink. At Exquisite cocktails we are equipped to craft a bespoke and professional menu of cocktails that meets your desires and most importantly, taste amazing. As well as being able to recommend a list of excellent caterers.  Finally, don’t forget the dietary requirements! Offering a white Russian to your vegan boss, you may find, does not work to your advantage.  

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Tiramisu espresso martini, among other profesionally crafted cocktails

6. Choosing a Theme

The execution of this theme through décor, lighting, catering and music is all the difference from party-no’s to party-pros. Either keep it clean and classy or dare to dream and select an outside the box theme – an easy way to make a memorable event. Either way every element must work cohesively. Consider the theme reflecting in the food, drinks, venue, decorations, lighting and entertainment. With such little time this is a mammoth task, you really should have started sooner. Maybe you can recruit in some of the interns and delegate a section to each. But if you’re too proud to admit defeat, one way to eliminate this stress of course is to hire a professional to do it for you.  

Two girls sitting down laughing with sequin dresses and festive novelty glasses.

7. Fun, fun, fun

Avoid putting people in the position of trying to conjure up a conversation that doesn’t involve work or office small talk. Keep the fire alive by organising activities and team-challenges that creates a talking point for them! Engage your colleagues with things like Secret Santa, seasonal pub quizzes, festive murder mystery! Exquisite cocktails provide a cocktail masterclass which, especially for an intimate event, could be the perfect activity to keep guests amused. 

close up of two people chatting whilst drinking cocktails.

8. Organise transportation

Every office is different but some of these parties can get pretty unhinged. Especially with more senior members of the crew still preaching five and drive, organising transportation for everyone is definitely a (corporate welfare) win. It makes it much easier for everyone and ensures there’s no hassle on the night which could end up falling to you! Consider organising a coach or mini bus, or have taxis waiting outside the venue. This will certainly be appreciated and contributes a smooth ending to the event.  

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