With autumn well underway and artificial Christmas trees displayed alongside Halloween candy, it’s clear that the holiday season is just barely around the corner. But what’s that, you say – you haven’t begun planning your annual office holiday party – or worse yet, you’re afraid of going over budget? Fear not, corporate event planners – we’ve got plenty of memorable holiday party ideas on tap for companies (and budgets) of all sizes. Read on for company holiday party ideas on a budget that will show your appreciation for all the hard work your employees have done over the past year.
Planning A Low-Cost Holiday Event: Top 5 Tips
Whether you’re celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, the New Year, Kwanza, or Festivus (Seinfeld fans rejoice!), there is no shortage of unique party ideas for the holidays. If you’re trying to brainstorm a low-cost holiday event but still want to keep the festivities fun, it can seem like a challenge. Fortunately, there are literally dozens of ways you can plan an amazing corporate party – without breaking the bank! Here are a few simple tips to keep costs to a minimum and entertainment to a maximum:
- Create An Event Budget Checklist: While this is the more tedious side of event planning, you’ll thank us later – creating a checklist at the onset of any major party-planning is always a smart move, enabling you to see what you can (and can’t) afford to do while staying within your targeted event allowance. If you’re feeling super-organized, you can do a color-coded PowerPoint presentation to discuss in your next staff meeting, but drafting up a simple bullet-point list or Excel spreadsheet is just as effective when creating a checklist and corresponding event planning budget outline. For starters, you’ll need to figure out what sort of party your budget allows – whether it’s a restaurant buyout or a formal event at a large space, knowing the type of party you’ll be organizing will help determine the overall expenditures.
When it comes to categorizing your budget, consider the basic parameters: venue/site, catering, entertainment, corporate goody bags, and so on. Since we’re focusing on budget-friendly events, it’s somewhat subjective – what may be considered an ‘inexpensive’ party by a large corporation may be lavish in comparison to what a smaller start-up can afford. For event planners, executive assistants, or anyone in charge of organizing and coordinating the company holiday party festivities, be sure to confirm what the bottom-line budget is at the beginning of the planning process so that there aren’t any surprises or hidden costs – and scale plans accordingly.
Holiday Hint: To ensure your party planning runs smoothly, hire an event management company to handle the coordination of all vendors, entertainment, set up and so on. They already have all the contacts, equipment, and skills to plan a killer event while staying within your budget.
2. Use Existing Resources: There are numerous ways to keep the costs down when it comes to office holiday party planning, but one of the most obvious ways to do so is to utilize what you’ve got – and that includes real estate. So often, office parties are held at off-site venues, such as hotels, restaurants, country clubs and so on – and this can quickly add up. If you have the space for it, why not host it in your office? Perhaps there’s a studio, auditorium, foyer, or other spacious areas that might be ideal for an event! Think outside the box when considering the location – with some beautiful lighting and some holiday decorations, you can affordably transform your existing space in no time.
3. Share The Love: In the event that you work in a large office space or building with other businesses, you might want to consider sharing a space (either in-house or off-site) and throw a holiday party together. This can benefit everyone involved in numerous ways: in addition to saving all of the companies resources on catering, entertainment, decorations and so on, it also provides a valuable opportunity for socializing with your professional ‘neighbors’, promoting a festive office vibe for the holiday season and cultivating good professional relationships that will last long after the fake snow is gone.
4. Party On Company Time: Although employees might understand that your company is on a strict budget, some may not be gung-ho about the obligatory holiday party after work hours, while others may have a hard time attending later in the evening (for example, parents of young children). For mid-sized and smaller companies especially, a holiday office party during working hours may be the ideal solution – in addition to acknowledging your loyal employees, it also provides an opportunity for staff to get into the holiday spirit. Some offices choose to host such parties on a Friday afternoon, featuring a catered lunch and then a half-day, which is a win-win – it’s an inexpensive way to celebrate, yet the work day isn’t completely lost, either. Consider using a local pizzeria or favorite restaurant and order a few trays of hot food, or even a 6’ long hero and pick up some holiday cookies and red and green M&Ms. Put the final touches on your office space with a Christmas tree and a twinkling string of colored lights – a simple way to spruce up the office, boost employee morale and spread good cheer with minimal effort or cost.
5. Schedule On The Off-Season: For businesses with a little bit of budgeting wiggle-room, planning the holiday party a bit off-season – either before the December rush (think mid-November) or early January (right after the New Year) – can really add up in corporate savings. In addition to making it much easier to plan (especially in urban areas where everything gets booked up months in advance), your employees might appreciate it, too, since it tends to be much less hectic and they won’t have to potentially miss other holiday parties or travel/vacation plans that tend to fall during the season.
Top 10 Unique Holiday Party Ideas: Planning A Corporate Event
When it comes to planning a corporate holiday party, there is a myriad of options to choose from – but when it comes to planning a corporate party on a budget, well – it may seem a bit more daunting. However, there are just as many unique and festive options to consider; you simply have to get a bit more creative when planning your event. Ultimately, if you plan in advance and create a cheerful atmosphere featuring tasty food and drink, everyone in attendance will remember it for many years to come. Here are a few of our favorite corporate party ideas that are sure to get you into the holiday spirit in no time:
1. Theme It Up: Opting for a theme-party is a surefire way to evoke the holiday spirit and boost morale in the office. If a black-tie party is a bit too stuffy (or pricey) for your organization, there are so many other directions you can go – and as a side bonus, they’re usually a lot more enjoyable! From the infamous ‘ugly sweater’ tradition that coincides with Christmas to an 80s-themed shindig, the sky’s the limit when it comes to holiday party themes. Whether it requires dressing up (or down – see ‘ugly sweater’), a white elephant gift exchange, or bringing a favorite covered dish to the office pot-luck style, there are plenty of budget-friendly themes to keep your party focused and fun.
2. Photo Booth Fun: Both easy and inexpensive to set up, a photo booth can make a huge difference at our event. Your guests can capture the good times while creating memorable snapshots to share long after the mistletoe is taken down.
3. Jingle Bell Rock: From low-key office parties to fancier events, nothing gets the party started like the right music does. While a DJ may be an ideal option, it might not be necessary for the duration of the event. Streaming music at the very beginning or end of the event, while you don’t have a full crowd, is a great way to save money. Create the perfect playlist days in advance – choose holiday music to set the mood, and be sure to select some vintage holiday classics to get everyone singing a Christmas carol or two.
4. Mid-Week Pick Me Up: If you’re considering a restaurant or venue buyout, make sure to look at their weekday pricing. Most venues and vendors have a lower rate if you throw the party on a weekday rather than over the weekend – which means you don’t have to skimp out on the open bar! Plus, many employees will appreciate not having to dedicate their weekend to a work event.
Holiday Hint: Allow for a late start on the day after the event so that your employees don’t feel like they need to leave the party early.
5. Festive Treats: A great way to save money on catering is to opt-out of desserts from the menu and incorporate a bake-off at the party. Encourage employees to bake their favorite holiday treats for a chance to win a prize! You can set up a staging area with a variety of cake stands, platters, candles, and decor to make it look extra special.
6. Earth-Friendly Invites: Spare the trees – and the environment – and go paperless for holiday party invitations. In addition to being an eco-smart move, it’ll also save you money when it comes to postage and stationery. Send out corporate invites for your next holiday party by using a free digital service – whether you opt for a Facebook event or Paperless Post, digital options make it much easier to keep track of who’s attending when taking a final headcount and managing other guest-related details.
7. Cozy Up With Cocoa: For wintertime parties, there’s no sweeter way to celebrate the season with a cozy mug of hot cocoa. Wherever you’re hosting a holiday party, hot chocolate stations continue to rise in popularity and make a delicious (and less pricey) alternative to alcoholic beverages. You can take it up a notch and include eggnog or apple cider as well!
8. Inexpensive Apps: Catering costs can be steep but there are ways around it! Instead of a lavish sit-down dinner or buffet, you may want to opt for lighter fare, such as passed-around appetizers, hors d’oeuvres, and crudités. You can still provide your guests with a substantial amount of food by leaning on those heavier app options like sliders, quiche, panini bites, etc. The remaining budget may be used for event entertainment or corporate gift bags to add more value.
9. Karaoke Cool: Another inexpensive entertainment option: turn your holiday office party from ho-hum to ho-ho-ho with a karaoke machine and get the good times rolling in a snap. If you’re hosting the party at a venue with a dance floor, it’s easy to crank up the fun another notch with a karaoke DJ that can double as your music and entertainment. Be sure to take videos and pictures for shareable sing-along memories that are sure to delight (or embarrass) party-goers for years to come!
10. Games Galore: The holidays bring out the inner kid in all of us – so why not incorporate games into your party planning equation? Whether you opt for life-size Jenga or some good ole table tennis, game rental companies have a wide variety of games for every budget that will entertain the whole team.
Host a Virtual Holiday Party
Thinking about throwing a virtual holiday party with your work team? Not a problem. In light of recent events, it’s important to keep the health and safety of your employees a priority, and hosting a remote holiday party does just that. Here are three ways you can throw the perfect virtual party just in time for the holidays so you and your team can still have fun from a distance.
- Themed Zoom Party
Schedule a Zoom call with your team to celebrate the occasion. To make it even more fun, come up with a theme that everyone can dress up for so you can still get into that holiday spirit. You can even make this a virtual happy hour so everyone can grab a drink to celebrate.
- Watch a Movie Together
Enjoy the virtual company of others while cozying up in your bed with your favorite holiday movie. There are several applications that make watching a movie with others simple. Netflix Party and Scener are some popular extensions that are free and super easy to download.
- Give Virtual Gifts
Instead of your traditional secret santa gift exchange, you can give some virtual gifts to each other to celebrate the holiday season. Some great gift ideas are: donations, time off, electronic gift cards, and travel packages.