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Office Holiday Party Planning 101

Your company’s holiday party planning for next year should start the day after you wrap up this year's event. It may sound crazy, but venues and vendors are often booked up for peak season months or years in advance. Start bouncing around office holiday party ideas a month or two after your last event, and book resources as soon as possible. For great results, follow a well-defined holiday party planning schedule.

One Year Out

Evaluate your most recent holiday office event. Take notes on what worked and what flopped. Brainstorm ideas for themes and create a list of possible venues for next year's event. Make sure executives and financial staff include a holiday event in the corporate budget for the following year.

Nine Months Out

Ask for details about the event budget and get the approval to book a venue. Depending on your company's structure, the booking process might need to include a purchase order or other documentation, so make sure you initiate reservations with enough leeway for your company's average lead time. Select a final theme so you can work on decorations, invitations and food choices over the next nine months, and be on the lookout for deals on party supplies. Giving yourself plenty of time reduces the stress of planning.

Six Months Out

Office parties take a lot of work, so consider asking for volunteers to help with the event. Not only does this get employees involved in the process, but it also allows you to leverage extra skill sets and contacts. Someone in your organization might know a caterer that will offer a discount, or another employee could bring an artistic touch to decorating.

Create a party planning checklist to avoid last-minute problems. Meet with your team of volunteers to go over the list and plan for the next few months. Delegate specific responsibilities to each team member to avoid duplicating work or leaving anything out. Make arrangements to secure catering and entertainment services within the next month.

Three Months Out

Send a teaser communication letting employees know about the holiday event. Include the date and time to ensure maximum attendance — holiday schedules start filling up fast.

Meet with the team to ensure everyone is on track, and offer assistance where needed. Send an email blast or hang posters reminding employees about the upcoming event that reveal a little bit more about the festivities.

One Month Out

Double check all reservations and send the formal invites for the event. Check in with team members and all suppliers to make sure there are no last-minute problems.

Promote the event through email, conversations and posters.

Do a final follow-up with all suppliers and team members. Be sure to find out when you can decorate the space.

One Day to a Few Hours Out

Decorate the event space. Set up chairs and tables. Be on site to greet suppliers and guests. Once the event starts, don't forget to enjoy the fun.

After a year of brainstorming office holiday party ideas and planning the event, you'll deserve a break. But if you use this timeline for managing your holiday party planning, the event is destined to be amazing!

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