It’s Summer – Time to Start Planning Your Company Holiday Party!

Sarah Waymire, Cathy Reeves

It is hard to believe, but if you intend to throw a holiday party this year, you need to start planning it today!  Yet who wants to plan a company holiday party when you are still looking forward to your summer vacation, long days, and warm evenings?  Not to worry.  The tips below can help you plan your company holiday party, while still enjoying the summer weather.

Know Your Budget

Don’t be Mr. Scrooge – be as generous as your budget allows.  Employees have worked hard all year long and it is important to show your appreciation.  The goal is to plan a party where everyone may eat, drink and be merry, while staying within budget. An Excel spreadsheet is a great way to track your budget and expenses step-by-step.  Do not forget to account for taxes and service charges in the budget; they add up quickly.  Remember also to leave a little room in the budget for the tiny but important details: party favors, flowers, and menus, etc.

Gather Your Team

Planning and organizing a memorable holiday party is not a one-person job.  Make sure your party has a team behind its success.  Checklists and communication are key.  Prepare a checklist that covers all items, down to the smallest details, like Tide Pens for that accidental spill.  Assign team members their tasks early to give them ample time to adjust their already busy schedules.  Communicate with your teammates often, not only about the tasks completed, but also about any snags that may affect the next stages of planning.

Choose the Right Venue

You want a space that will allow your guests to mingle freely – no one wants to be packed in like a sardine.  In addition, if you are having entertainment or presentations, you will need plenty of space so everyone may see, hear, and feel included.  Warm lighting, festive decor, and subtle background music will help to complete the holiday ambiance.  Low lying centerpieces on dinner or cocktail tables allow clear sightlines so everyone at the table may communicate with ease.  Make sure to check with the venue about any preferred vendors or vendor restrictions.  Knowing the venue restrictions early on will allow you to avoid last-minute surprises.

Choose the Right Menu

Quality food at your party is a must.  If you plan to have a sit-down dinner, provide menu options for your guests.  While it is nearly impossible to please everyone when it comes to food preferences, you will please most of your guests if you give them choices for the main course.  Tip: If you promise to provide your venue with a complete list of all menu choices several days in advance of the event, they may add an additional entrée to choose from as a form of appreciation for your stellar planning skills.

In order to streamline meal service, mark each guest’s menu choices on the back of the guest’s place card.  This allows the servers to see what food goes to which table before guests even arrive.  With a little creativity, you can make even this detail special, by using stick-on gems or stickers that match your theme.  Just make sure you provide the venue with the legend, so they know the gold sticker means chicken.  

Details Matter

There are many facets to a successful holiday party including centerpieces, favors, transportation, activities, presentations, and more.  If you are transporting your guests from one location to another, think of an activity or game to get them in the holiday mood – nothing like a game of “Name That Tune – Holiday Edition” to put everyone in the spirit.  Do not just provide a gift or favor, but make it extra special by presenting it in a lovely package.  This is also a great opportunity to give guests some company swag, like a USB power bank with your logo on it.  Create table names to bring an element of fun to the seating process – think about companywide lingo that can double as table names.  Your guests might not pick up on every little detail, but they will be dazzled by the thoughtfulness.

Think Ahead and Be Flexible

No matter how much you plan and prepare for your event, a curveball will be thrown at you.  The more prepared you are, the less likely your stress level will go through the roof when the inevitable happens.  On the day of the event, have your budget, contracts, schedules and contacts organized and at your fingertips.  These documents will provide a solid reference point in a shaky situation.  Schedule sufficient transition time between activities.  Often people underestimate how much time it takes to get people seated or accounted for on a bus.  Always have your event emergency kit on hand: Kleenex, bottled water, paper towels, scissors, pens, pencils, safety pins, packaging tape, portable charger and cables, breath mints, Advil, small trash bags, a lint brush, Tide Pen/Shout Wipes and a first aid kit.  These things can be life savers for guests in need.

Smile, It’s a Party

Above all else, have fun!  If you are having a good time, your guests will have a good time.  If your guests see you smiling and laughing, they will also feel relaxed and ready to enjoy the party.  Positive energy is contagious!

Planning a company holiday party in the summer heat will be no sweat when you utilize these tips and tricks.  So, enjoy your summer, splash in the water, drink some fresh squeezed lemonade, and bask in the sunshine; before you know it, you will be celebrating with holiday cheer.


Cathy Reeves is a member of McManis Faulkner’s administrative team. In her role as coordinator of the firm’s employee relations activities, Cathy is responsible for staff hiring and orientation as well as administering the firm’s benefit programs.

Sarah Waymire is a member of McManis Faulkner’s administrative team.  She uses her strong social and organizational skills to provide current software program training and helps coordinate special events held at the firm.

About the author Sarah Waymire

Sarah manages the firm’s training programs.  She assesses current software programs and provides the firm with the training needed to fully utilize each program.  

About the author Cathy Reeves

Cathy is a member of McManis Faulkner’s administrative team. In her role as coordinator of the firm’s employee relations activities, Cathy is responsible for the staff hiring and orientation process as well as administering the firm’s insurance policies and other benefit programs.