The corporate holiday party can be a hard assignment to deliver on. There are so many people to please, limited budgets, and a lot of pressure to end the year on a positive note. Since your goal is to celebrate the season as well as the hard work everyone has put in, you want to create a festive, inclusive celebration that helps check all the boxes for your guests. In this article, we offer tips to help you plan the perfect corporate holiday party.

Set the Budget

You really can’t begin planning your holiday party without a budget in mind. Once you know your budget, you can narrow down everything else because you’ll have an idea of the types of event venues that Toronto offers and what details you can include in your plans.

Have a Head Count

You can look at the staff list to start, but you might also want to look at past holiday numbers to get a better idea. People tend to either go or not go to holiday parties. So, you might note a trend of averages looking back at past holiday invoices. Also, consider your budget and decide if it makes sense to put some of your money towards plus-ones, or focus all of the money on staff for a more extravagant affair.

Venue

It might be best to start with looking at the various event venues that Toronto has to offer to find out when your top picks are available. If you set a date first, it will limit your choices. The venue is the most important detail to nail down, as it really sets the tone of your event. It is also going to cost the most. Your ideal venue should:

  • Be easy to reach
  • Be tasteful with suitable services such as catering, décor, etc.
  • Have a suitable atmosphere and ambience to set the tone for your holiday party
  • Be the appropriate size
  • Be budget friendly for your cost limits
  • Have parking

Also, it might make sense to have some sort of theme in mind, so you can choose a suitable venue (we will discuss the theme as a separate element of your planning). On the flipside, your venue might inspire a theme, so it can be a bit of a chicken and egg situation!

Choose the Date

Once you settle on your venue, you can set the date.

Party Theme or Concept

Saying the holiday is the theme isn’t quite enough. You need some type of vision for the party that will help create a festive and elegant ambience. Corporate affairs can also be fun, but this is the reason you need to have a theme or concept in mind. Often, the nature of your business is a good thing to help set the tone.

For example, an ad agency or design firm might have something more casual and fun, whereas an accounting business or law firm might be more elegant. You also have to be inclusive in your theme. Some ideas that are both suitable and inclusive might include:

  • Winter wonderland
  • Silver bells
  • Magical forest
  • Colour themes such as gold and silver, red and white, or blue and white

The look of your venue can also help give you some ideas to set the stage for your party theme. Avoid anything that is too focused on a specific religion, such as Santa Claus, as this can make some guests feel excluded.

Enlist Help

Usually, one person is given the stressful job of planning the holiday party. However, that doesn’t mean you have to work alone. Enlist help and look for volunteers.

You can set up a committee asking for volunteers or representatives from each department, so you have input across the entire company. They can suggest ideas, help come up with themes, make recommendations about whether or not you should include plus-ones, games or activities, entertainment, etc. You can then delegate jobs to each person, so the work is spread out. You can oversee the planning and make sure everyone keeps on-task.

Create a Schedule

Treat this like you would any other project with a timeline and benchmarks that you need to reach. This keeps things organized and ensures nothing is missed. Work with your venue to understand when they will need things like head counts, menu confirmation, décor, etc., so you ensure they have enough time to do the work at their end. Share those deadlines with the committee, and list assigned tasks with deliverables so everyone knows what they have to complete and when.

Plan the Menu

Meet with your committee to discuss ideas for the menu. Then, set up a meeting with your caterer/venue to discuss the menu. Make sure you consider things like allergies, and include a vegan option. Ideally, you should choose a venue that caters and serves food, so you reduce the number of contacts and suppliers you need to work with. Make sure you taste the food, and don’t forget to consider serving options as well. Will it be a sit-down meal, a buffet, or with serving stations?

Drinks

Along with the menu, consider the extent of the drinks you are willing to provide. You have to keep safety in mind, so be sure you have taxi stubs available and someone who is checking to make sure people are sent home safely. Some fun ideas for drinks might include:

  • A seasonal custom cocktail such as a sparkling champagne cocktail or peppermint martini
  • A hot cocoa or specialty coffee bar
  • A seasonal mocktail for those who don’t imbibe
  • Prosecco or champagne for toasting

You can also consider a wine tasting, whiskey tasting, or even something fun like a vodka ice luge.

Invitations and Communication

Once you have the details nailed down, you can send out your invitations. Be sure to state if plus-ones are included. Share not just the date, but all the details such as dress code, parking, location with directions, meal type, request for special dietary needs, etc. Once invitations are sent out, have an email plan to send out reminders based on the date you need to finalize the head count with your caterers or venue. As well, consider having a social media or web page set up to share details, so people can keep up to date with what is happening. This is also a fun place to share images and video of the event.

Additional Ideas

Some other ideas you can consider for your holiday party include:

  • Employee appreciation or awards
  • Prizes
  • Entertainment
  • Games and activities
  • Secret Santa or gift exchange
  • A giveaway for each guest
  • Photo booth
  • Office trivia
  • Dancing
  • Contests

Even if you plan something elegant, keep the event light and fun. People have worked hard and deserve a night out. The last thing you want is an event that adds to poor morale!

For more information about the event venue that Toronto companies trust for their holiday parties, speak to our team at Château Le Jardin Event Venue today. Call us toll free at 1-888-517-0682 or contact us here.