Is Christmas party planning getting earlier? It’s crazy that we’re already running around finding venues and crafting the seating plan, says Declan Halton-Woodward, EA at Handelsbanken Wealth/Heartwood…
My unpopular opinion is that Christmas parties are a bit of a scam; it’s astounding the premium we pay for events in December and there’s the ever expanding expectation of clients, executives and staff. Alas, needs must. I know there are some great tips and ideas covered in this issue but a few come to my mind based on past experience.
Normally I would say the top of every list is planning, but you already know that. So first things first: think impact. How can you make people go ‘wow’ this year. Every firm can do a sit-down dinner and disco, but how might you do things a little different? This could be some games (casino or team-based games), personalised gifts or everyone’s favourite drink on arrival. And you’d be surprised by how well received a card invitation delivered to home addresses is (and at such a small cost).
Second: get buy-in and drive excitement. Executive buy-in to the idea and the party as a whole is key to ensuring a success in both attendance and morale. If execs buy into the idea then talk soon spreads. Try different ideas to create anticipation – maybe you have a colour theme so everyone talks about clothing, or maybe you have a location that is secret until the day before.
Third: communication. I have found that the more communication before, during and after the event, the better. Cover all eventualities including ‘idiots guide’ directions, schedule of events, example outfits if themed, local hotels and taxis, etc. On the night, ensure everyone knows the order of events and a few awards (long service, special recognition etc.) from the CEO make it a little more special. Post event, getting the pictures out and thanking everybody for their attendance as soon as possible is important. If your event is on a weekday, budget for some bacon/sausage rolls in the office the following morning.
Finally and, perhaps more importantly, have fun! The venue makes a difference but it doesn’t make the night, and the same goes with food. Allow as many people to get involved as possible and enjoy the process. Let the night flow and make sure you add some things in which show the business doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Can I be perhaps the first in 2019 to say: Merry Christmas?!