Every year, at least one or two occasions merit a company party. An annual holiday bash is traditional for many offices; other events such as a commemoration of an employee’s retirement or recognition of an award could add more celebrations to the calendar. Hosting a company party can be a great way to engage with your employees and to acknowledge them for their hard work. If you take the party planner role, however, there are a few responsibilities that go beyond simply choosing great food and music: namely, ensuring the safety and appropriate behaviour of your employees and colleagues. The following steps will help to make a successful party and prevent any undesirable party mishaps.
Step 1: Consider your budget.
When planning a department- or company-wide party, start by assessing your budget. As a good host and manager, you need to be careful not to exclude anyone, and must account for each party guest to bring their significant other. Create a budget that will comfortably accommodate the number attending – you don’t want to skimp on costs and make employees feel they are undervalued. At the same time, do not plan for such an extravagant party that you have to cut costs from regular business functions.
Step 2: Choose a venue.
Best practice for a company party is not to host it in your own home. For a wide range of guests whom you might not know personally, it may be better to gather in an impartial environment. Renting a banquet room in a restaurant or a hotel is always a good option, as well as more creative settings such as an event hall in a museum or gallery, or a ballroom in a historic building.
Step 3: Select the menu.
Rule of thumb: leave no guest hungry. Once you have a definite number of who will attend the party, research caterers and compare options. Don’t attempt to cook the food yourself – alongside the other party preparations, it will be too time-consuming, and a caterer will be a better judge of how much to provide for the number of guests. In addition, before you place an order, be sure to account for any food allergies or diet restrictions and to have adequate alternatives in place. In doing so, all guests will feel welcome and recognize your thoughtfulness as a good host. Sending a quick email to staff with this request will cover for any forgotten or withheld dietary restrictions on an RSVP.
Step 4: Book entertainment.
The best entertainment for your party is subjective and should be chosen based on your employees’ preferences and personalities. If they are a crowd who likes to dance, invest more in a reputable DJ or even a live band. If the guests would prefer to mingle and chat on the dance floor, put thought into choosing a lively yet unobtrusive soundtrack to play in the background.
Step 5: Plan for alcohol and alternatives
In serving alcohol, it is key to consider not only the wine list but also the safety and appropriate behaviour of your party guests. As the host, it is your responsibility to ensure that there are no embarrassing mishaps or, worse, dangerous situations as a result of alcohol consumption.
One precaution you can take is to hire a bartender who can professionally manage the alcohol distribution. Also, think about whether you want to set a limit of free drinks (two is a safe number), and then have guests pay for any extra drinks they choose to have after that. This will not only limit excessive drinking but also benefit your budget. Finally, be sure to have a range of non-alcoholic options as well.
Once it is time for guests to leave, ensure that everyone is safe to drive home. Have taxi vouchers ready to hand out to those who cannot drive themselves.
There is also a great article I encourage you to read: Office parties leave companies open to legal issues
With these steps in mind, you can plan a company party that is both enjoyable and safe. The final step is to mix and mingle at the party, greeting and talking to every guest individually so that all feel welcome.
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