If you're organising the company Christmas party this year, it can be a tough call to create an event that everyone enjoys, all night long. Avoid the top ten pitfalls of office party organising and you’ll ensure everyone has a great time, from first job newbie to seasoned CEO. Also see our Christmas Entertaining Idea & Inspiration pages
#1: Holding The Party In The Office
Parties in your own office premises never quite work, do they? An office is an office, regardless of how much tinsel or fairy lights you put up. It's also full of reminders of jobs undone and rapidly filling email In boxes. Instead, choose a special venue where everyone can relax, have a good time, and forget about work for a while. You'll also save yourself the extra cleaning bills and accidental breakages an office-based party inevitably incurs, plus the embarrassment of never being able to look at your boss's desk in the same light after that incident with the newbie from Accounts….
#2: The Best Venue Is The One The Boss Likes/Wants
OK, it might make him/her happy, but does it suit the majority of your colleagues in your company? If your employees are a young crowd who like to party hard late into the night, an exclusive country hotel might not make them feel relaxed, for example. Find a venue that feels right for as many people as possible and is within your budget, although hand on heart, you'll never be able to please all of them!
#3: The Best Venues Are Out Of Town
Not necessarily. They may be bigger, quieter, or more exclusive, but they also take longer to reach, more people have to drive there rather than take public transport, and taxis back home afterwards can be hideously expensive. Try and find a venue with good transport links that still has a special feel, or organise a late-night coach back to a central location where everyone can get home from easily.
Check out Venue Finder's database of over 15,000 UK and international venues at www.venuefinder.com
#4: Not Providing Enough Entertainment
Just providing a function band or DJ, however good they are, is not going to keep everyone entertained all evening long. Instead, surprise and delight your fellow workers with unexpected, specialist and unusal entertainment throughout the night that gets everyone talking about something apart from work! Greet your guests with a roving magician or caricaturist at the drinks reception to break the ice, then singing waiters or comedy act in the middle of dinner, before the main evening entertainment begins. Also, signal the official end to the Christmas party with a fireworks display or fire and glow performers, so people go home with a smile on their faces.
#5: Not Providing Enough Food
People coming to a party after work will always have one thing in common; they will be starving by 7pm! So, make sure they are greeted on arrival with canapés or nibbles, so that they are not drinking on a totally empty stomach. It's better to serve plenty of nibbles and a smaller starter, for example, than to make everyone wait for hours before a mouthful of food is even served.
#6: Have An Open Bar
Open bars are not only expensive and open to abuse, they can also be rather dull in terms of what is on offer. Better to provide drinks that people really enjoy, such as good quality fizz at the drinks reception, hand-picked wine or beer at the meal, and an exotic cocktail bar with professional mixologists for the party afterwards. Make sure there are plenty of soft drinks and water available at all times, free of charge if possible, so the drivers and non-drinkers are happy too.
#7: Everyone Loves Dancing!
Again, not necessarily, especially if their drunken attempts are then posted on YouTube for all to see the next day… However, most people enjoy live bands even if they're not up and dancing themselves, especially if the band puts on a good show. So, hire an energetic function band that play a wide range of music, have a good lighting and stage set-up and have experience in playing corporate events. Themed show bands are also a terrific idea to bridge the generation gaps, from 70s funk to salsa, Blues Brothers to soul. Or, book a special festive show such as a Rat Pack Christmas swing band complete with superb singers and glamorous show girls!
#8: Everyone Loves A DJ!
Er, see above... Rather than going to the expense of hiring a DJ and a band, ask if the band provides a DJ set in between their own sets - many do. Use that saved extra cash to hire giant-sized games or driving simulators for the non-dancers to enjoy, or turn a side room into a James Bond themed casino for serious games with fun money.
#9: Expect People To Work Hard The Day After
Come on, get real! Most will have a massive headache, those who don't will still be knackered from dancing or lack of sleep, and the rest will be insufferably smug! Welcome those who make it in, provide plenty of coffee and biscuits, and keep the party spirit alive with an unexpected surprise during the day, such as a Marilyn Monroe lookalike or mariachi band (so long as they don't play too loud!) So, next year, all those who decided not to come in this year and realised they missed out on the fun will be at their desks, at least looking as if they are doing some work…
#10: Book The Entertainment Direct
It's tempting to think booking all your Christmas party entertainment direct will save you time and money. Instead, it'll probably cost more in missed phone calls, hassle over logistics, and the worry of ensuring everyone turns up on time and gets paid on the night. By booking all your entertainment through an entertainment agency website like Alive Network you can choose from a wide range of entertainers, safe in the knowledge they are all vetted and of a high professional standard. We always make sure all our artists are fully briefed, know what's expected and where they are going to perform, and we'll also deal with any questions or issues arising before the event.
So, you can relax, get on your glad rags and enjoy the Christmas party you've worked so hard to create!