15 Smart And Easy Tips To Plan A Stress Free Office Party

Tatiana Czuchnowsky

How to keep your sanity when planning your office holiday party “It’s the most wonderful time of the year….” while that may be the case …

How to keep your sanity when planning your office holiday party

holiday party planner“It’s the most wonderful time of the year….” while that may be the case for some, it may not be for others, particularly those planning the office holiday party. Unless you’re a professional event planner, chances are arranging the staff party is a daunting and stressful task. Let’s face it – you’re organizing the “Thank You” to your colleagues on behalf of the company owner and executives. Take heart, CornerStone Dynamics has just made it easier. Whether you’re planning a small celebration in your office space or a large scale event for your corporate employer, follow these 15 tips to plan a stress free and successful holiday office party.


  1. Seek input and approval – Ask a few of your trusted colleagues for advice and bounce your concepts off of them. They may have some excellent thoughts on venues, catering or even entertainment ideas that you haven’t thought about. You’ll also need buy-in from upper levels of management as they’re providing the budget. Approach the appropriate contact with your event outline and ideas. Go in with a few scenarios – your blue sky event at the highest cost, your preferred event at medium cost and your low budget event – for approval from the leader(s) making the final decision
  2. Set your budget, be generous and stick to it – This a thank you event for the hard work staff do over the year. Be generous with your budget and be realistic about expectations. If your boss is asking you to plan an incredible party for 100 people with a budget of $2,000, that’s a task the most seasoned event professional would find near impossible. Cost out your approximate budget including food and beverage, venue, entertainment and additional expenses for each guest, I’ll get to the additional expenses in a moment. You’ll spend approximately $40 – $75 per person for food, assume ½ bottle of wine per person if serving wine and 2 mixed drinks or beer per person for cocktails.
  3. Book early – and I mean early! If you’re hiring a caterer or your party is at a restaurant /outside venue, you`ll need to book early to secure the supplier and space you prefer. Begin in September if you are booking a caterer/restaurant, or even a year to 6 months in advance for a larger scale venue. This will help you secure your preferred choice.
  4. Get your special occasions permit (SOP) or equivalent – Depending on where you live, you may need a temporary licence if alcohol is served or sold outside of a licensed establishment or a private place (i.e., a private office or a residence). In Ontario, visit the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario website for more information on whether or not your event will require a SOP and how to get one.
  5. Have an alcohol/designated driver plan and communicate it to attendees – Here’s where additional expenses come into play. You must have a plan in place for employees that have been drinking to get home. Ideally, you’ll supply staff with taxi chits (call your local taxi provider to set up an account for your event needs) or encourage a designated driver program. This is an additional expense, however costs are much lower to provide taxi chits than to fight litigation over a drinking/driving lawsuit.
  6. Take advantage of free resources for event ideas and supplier contact information – There are targeted websites such as BizBash, Meetings Net, or TSEvents, offering information on venues, caterers, entertainment options, audio visual, décor/rentals and event planning services throughout North America and globally.  This brings me to my next point…
  7. Hire an event planner – if your budget can handle it. It’s a great way to take the pressure off of your shoulders.
  8. Hire a quality caterer/bartenders/waitstaff if you are having a party at your office or outside venue (other than a restaurant) – They will ensure that food and drinks are served, appropriate rentals are secured and general clean-up is completed – invaluable services!
  9. Have enough food & beverage – Nothing will bring a party to a close faster than not having ample food and beverages to satisfy your guests. Speak with your caterer/venue contact to ensure that amounts are accurate and include a little extra – better to have too much than not enough!
  10. Book quality entertainment – It could be a DJ, band, magician, video and game machines (Whack-a-Mole, PacMan or Fussball anyone?), a Wii console, karaoke machine, live entertainment or photo booths – something to fill the void when the inevitable quiet times happen. Remember to look at your local event guides for ideas.
  11. Provide prizes/parting gifts – it’s the Holidays after all. These can be secured as purchased or sponsored items from trusted suppliers. Even if it’s a small take away, these are the people that are making the business/company successful. 
  12. Keep speeches limited – Just like at a wedding, a simple, heartfelt thank you is enough. Who hasn’t been to a wedding where the speeches go on, and on, and on… you’ll want to avoid that scenario. Speeches should be delivered by the owner and/or top executives, and they should be short but sweet.
  13. Create a critical path for your event – this document contains contact information of suppliers and key personnel, it also outlines what will be happening from start to finish at your party, including the person/organization responsible for each task. This is a great shared document. The final revised copy should be distributed to stakeholders and suppliers as it assists in keeping everyone on track and the event running smoothly. 
  14. Adriana Girdler wrote an article on surviving the Holidays that provides information on how to avoid the general stresses of the season.  
  15. Enjoy yourself – employing these fifteen tips will assist in easing the load of your event planning duties and lead you to a successful event. Follow the steps above and on the day of your event take a deep breath, relax and have a wonderful time. 

CornerStone Dynamics wishes you a stress-free and enjoyable Holiday Party!

Do you have a party planning tip you’d like to share? Feel free to leave a comment below or shout out to us on Facebook or Twitter. Of course, you could always write your own blog post on the subject and share it with us… We’d love to read it!

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Tatiana Czuchnowsky was an associate at CornerStone Dynamics Inc. In all her blogs efficiency was the name of the game.

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