Planning holiday work parties can seem like a huge undertaking. But with proper guidance and expertise, you’ll realize that planning a holiday work party is much easier than it seems and can be a lot of fun.

In this article, we will share with you tips and tricks that will help you throw a memorable holiday work party. If you need expert advice, be sure to check out our latest TeamBonding Saves the World podcast and hear Alexandra Pett (Eventology), Sharon Fisher (Play with a Purpose), and David Goldstein (TeamBonding) talk about their party planning experiences.

Which Type of Holiday Party Is Right for Your Team?

Virtual holiday parties are here to stay, for now, at least. Deciding whether you want to throw an in-person, hybrid, or virtual party should be your first step in party planning. Make sure you consider the possibility of having to change your in-person events to virtual. This is highly likely, considering that we are still living in uncertain times.

TeamBonding assures flexibility for teams that might have to switch from an in-person event to a virtual one.

“Book a virtual event, and we will switch it over to in-person or an in-person event over to virtual. We can work with them — in person or virtually or wherever,” – David from TeamBonding.

When organizing an in-person event, check with local health officials to find out how many people can attend the event, and which measures you need to implement. If your team is working from home indefinitely, a virtual party might be the best option. However, if your employees are mostly working back in the office, you might consider an in-person or hybrid event.

Now that you have decided on what type of party to throw based on your workplace situation, it’s time to get into the details!

Start your planning early

Procrastination is the enemy of party planning. Start your planning early and consider every possible detail. To avoid last-minute planning and scrambling, try breaking down the event and the steps you need to take into smaller, more manageable pieces.

For the most part, starting the planning process three to four months before the party is ideal for large gatherings. For small to medium-sized work parties, a head start of two to three months will suffice.

Here are some questions that you should have answers to before you start the planning process:

  • Do you have a budget? If so, what is it?
  • Who is part of the organization committee?
  • When do you plan to have the party?
  • Does the party fall on the exact date of a particular holiday?
  • How many people will be attending?
  • Where are you planning to host the party?
  • How will you promote the event?

Once you have these questions answered, it is time to make a party planning calendar or checklist. If you’re working within a team, using a task manager will give your insight into who’s doing what and which tasks are pending. Applications such as Asana, Trello, and Google Calendar are great for managing teams, delegating tasks, and tracking progress.

If you are planning the party solo – have no fear! There are numerous tools you can use that will help you stay organized. Using a personal calendar or planner is a must if you want to keep all your party planning deadlines in one place. You can also download a party planning organizer template online if you prefer digital task tracking.

It is also worth hiring professionals that specialize in team-building events and entertainment. Having professional support on board will help alleviate a lot of the pressure, especially if you’re organizing a gathering for hundreds of people.

Make sure everyone can attend

Survey your team with a poll or Slack message to check how many of them will be able to make it and what time works best for them. Based on the majority vote, use the results as a guide to help you decide when to schedule your holiday party.

Determine the goal of your party

It’s important to figure out what you and your team want to accomplish when planning your party. There are many reasons why companies throw parties: team bonding, having fun, celebrating an occasion or a holiday, giving back, to name a few. By identifying the purpose of your party, you will have a clearer picture of which activities you should plan.

For instance, if you are interested in giving back to the community, you might consider organizing a charitable bike build, teddy bear rescue, or a fundraiser. Studies have shown that companies that promote employee engagement with CSR have workers whose morale is 55% and employee loyalty is 38% better. These types of events are ideal for cultivating a “giving back attitude” within your organization and fostering positive company culture.

If your goal is to do something that brings your team together – team-building events with kits are a great option. This includes sending everyone something in the mail that connects them. Whether it’s a happy hour mixology kit or pumpkin carving kit, the goal here is to connect people through common ground and shared experiences.

If you are not sure how to identify the goal of your party, our team-building experts can help you shape the overall theme.

Decide What Activities Best Fit Your Group Sizes

Not only does the goal of your party affect what type of activities you should organize, but the size of your group can also impact which activities you should plan for your holiday party. Keep in mind that a one-for-all solution doesn’t exist. Some holiday work party activities are simply better geared towards larger groups.

“We found with the larger groups, it was good to do the games, the escape rooms, the trivia, the race around the worlds,” says Alexandra Pett, Sales Director at Eventology Vancouver.

These types of games, especially ones that break groups up into teams, are perfect for increasing engagement at holiday parties. Having smaller groups encourages people to interact with each other and enables them to have more meaningful conversations, especially with virtual events. Even if you don’t plan on having an activity or game for your virtual holiday party, you can split the group into smaller breakout rooms to chat during increments of the party.

Get people excited about the event

What better way to get your team excited about a holiday party than to ask for their preferences and plan the event accordingly? Don’t guess what activities your team will like the most – take a poll, instead.

For instance, if you want to organize a charitable event or a fundraiser, you could ask them: “Which charity has the most meaning to you personally?” From there, you can narrow down the choices and focus the event in the right direction.

If you plan to host a game or activity during your party, send your team five options and ask them to choose which games seem intriguing to them. Certainly, some elements of the party will not be based on the input you get from your team. However, it’s always worth getting their opinions since the party is for them.

Once you’ve finalized your party plan, get your team excited! This is where marketing skills come into play. Here are a few different ways to create buzz around your work party.

  1. A Desk Drop

A desk drop is a campaign that gets a message to your employees by dropping an unexpected gift on their desks. If your team is virtual, this could be a gift that you send in the mail. If one of your holiday party activities or games involves a kit, like a mixology kit or pumpkin carving kit, that would be a great desk drop gift. If not, you could go with a personalized invitation from the CEO, company SWAG, or a festive gift. Deliver these gifts to your team the day before your holiday party.

  1. Schedule a Pre-Party Event

Create excitement around your holiday party with a pre-party event! This could be a happy hour, team lunch, or team building activity – nothing too elaborate. During the pre-party event, you can create buzz around the holiday party by revealing the schedule of activities that will be taking place.

  1. Have Employees Enter a Group Raffle or Competition the Day Before

The day before the holiday party, invite all the employees to enter a raffle or competition. Then, tell them that the winner will be revealed at the holiday party. This will incentivize your colleagues to show up, itching to find out who the lucky winner is.

To get more helpful event planning tips and tricks from our experts, don’t forget to check out the TeamBuilding Saves the World podcast. If you are looking to take your holiday team events to the next level, TeamBonding has you covered with our Holiday Parties & Outings.


Anna Webber

Team Contributor


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