18 Tips for Planning a Great Office Party

office party

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Hosting an annual office party is important for a number of reasons. It’s a great way for you to reward employees for all their hard work over the year. It’s great for team morale and gives everyone a chance to get to know each other more which can help productivity back in the office. And it’s great fun for everyone involved! 

But hosting an office party can be hard work. There’s a lot involved so we’ve outlined everything you need to know in 18 great tips.
 
The first thing you’ll need to do when planning an office party is set a budget. Then you can go ahead and decide if you’re going to organise it yourself, get a team of employees involved, or hire a professional event planner.
 
After that, you can figure out the time and date, venue, catering, theme, decorations and all the other fun stuff to make sure you host a great office party! 
 
We’ll go through all this and much more with these 18 tips for hosting a great office party, so lets get started! 

1. Decide on the Budget

Try and be generous when setting the budget for your office party.
 
It’s your chance to reward your employees for all their hard work throughout the year. It’ll also make it a lot easier to plan the party. Although there are ways of planning a party on a budget, generally the more you spend, the better the party will be. If you’re generous with the budget, it’ll definitely be appreciated by your employees and helps to keep team morale high. 
 
Once you’ve set a budget, you’ll need to stick to it. The best way is to track it using an excel spreadsheet. This way you’ll easily be able to see how much you’ve spent and how much you’ve got left to spend using the formulas. It’s the best way of keeping on track and preventing overspending on your office party. 
 
It’s easiest to track your spending if you itemise all your expenses. So be specific. Allocate a set amount of money to the venue, decorations, food, drinks, entertainment and any other things you want to include in your office party. Once, you’ve read the rest of these 17 tips, you’ll be able to make your excel spreadsheet and figure out exactly what you need to allocate money to. 

2. Figure Out Who is Doing the Organising

Now you’ve considered your budget, you can think about who’s doing the planning.
 
If you’re the boss, you might not have much time to plan the office party and that’s not a problem. It’s great to be involved, but there’s ways of taking a back seat to make sure you don’t have to spend loads of time planning. 
 
One thing you can consider to reduce the hassle of planning an office party, is to hire a professional event planner. 

They’ll be able to work with you to make sure you put on a successful company party for all the employees. If you already have a vision of what you want the party to be like, they’ll be able to book everything and sort the logistics to make sure it looks just how you want it too. And if you’re stuck for inspiration, don’t worry, because they’re experts at coming up with brilliant ideas! 
 
If hiring a professional event planner is outside your budget, consider asking the employees for their input. Not only will it take the pressure off you, but it’ll make sure the office party is actually what the employees want it to be! 
 
You could ask for volunteers to plan the party and form a social executive committee. This will give everyone who wants to be involved a chance to plan a great office party. 

3. Pick the Time and Date

Picking the perfect time and date is key to planning a great office party. We think around 7:00pm on a Friday night is the best slot. It’s late enough so that you can nip home to get ready for the party, or go for drinks beforehand. But not too late so that that party goes on too late into the night. If you want the party to start straight after work, consider pushing the time forward to 6:00pm.

Friday is definitely the best day to host an office party. It doesn’t force people to come in on a weekend day and gives everyone plenty of time to recover before Monday! The only problem with a Friday though is that it’s a popular day. This means that you might struggle to find a venue if you’re booking last minute.

Saturday is also a suitable day for an office party, but some employees might not fancy coming in for a work related event on an additional day if they work Monday-Friday. 

Try and avoid hosting an office party on a weekday or Sunday if you can. No one wants to come into work after a heavy night and chances are productivity won’t be great either! Thursday is the best weekday to host an office party if you’re limited to a weekday as it’s later in the week. But try and avoid weekdays completely unless you it’s your only option! 

4. Choose the Venue

The next thing you’ll need to consider when planning an office party, is where to host it. 

We would try and steer clear of hosting your party in your actual office or workplace. It’s a bad idea for a few reasons. 

Firstly, office parties create a lot of mess, and you definitely don’t want to be dealing with that on a Monday morning. Secondly, you can be limited for space. It’s also good to have an office party in a completely different environment to give the employees a chance to get out of their workplace for a bit! 

One of the main reasons though, is that you’re a lot more liable for any accidents or injury. If there are any food poisoning or drink related problems, then the company will likely be liable. But if you choose to host in a separate venue, they are more responsible for any issues.

That doesn’t mean you can shirk all the responsibility though. Where ever you’re hosting the party, you need to ensure it’s safe for everyone. 

So where can you host your company’s annual party? Well there are plenty of options. The most popular choices are function rooms and restaurants. 

So how do you choose the best venue? Here are some tips to help you decide where to host your office party. 

Venue Size

The size, and ultimately the cost, of your venue will mostly depend on how many employees are attending. 

Venue Location

Try and choose a central location that’s convenient for the majority of your employees. Chances are, it’ll be somewhere close to the office. You might have your eye on a venue that’s quite far away, but some people might be put off if they will struggle to get home after the party without paying a fortune for transport.

Inside or Outside

If you’re hosting a winter office party, it’s probably best to go with the safe option and host inside. But if you want to celebrate the occasion outdoors, check that the venue has a plan B in case the weather doesn’t go your way.  

Catering

Some venues offer catering, but others just leave you to it. Think about the kind of food you want to serve at your office party and if the venue fits in with your plans.

Any Extras

Some venues offer additional services which might sway your decision, for example a bar, decorations or some entertainment. Try and consider the whole package when choosing a venue to make sure you get a good deal.

Overall Cost

This depends on how luxurious your venue is, how many people it caters for, and if there are any extras included. Make sure you are strict with yourself when choosing the venue and remember our advice about sticking to your budget! 

5. Think About the Drinks

There are plenty of options regarding the drinks at an office party. But you do need to be a bit cautious.

An open bar will definitely be appreciated by your employees, but it’s not always the best idea. 

For one, it’ll be incredibly expensive. If you’re employees let their hair down completely and don’t hold back, an open bar will sky rocket the cost of the office party. It can also cause some people to ignore their limits and drink a bit too much than they probably should. This can lead to definite embarrassment, but also potential injury or accidents. 

But you don’t want to seem stingy, right? So here’s what you can do instead. 

A good alternative is to offer free drink vouchers. They will still be appreciated by everyone, but limits the cost and the chance of over-drinking. You could also offer a glass of champagne, wine or orange juice to each employee on arrival if you want a cheaper alternative. 

Of course, you don’t have to provide free drinks, but it is a nice thing to consider. You should definitely make sure there is a lot of variety with the drinks menu. Always include a good range of non-alcoholic options to make sure everyone is catered for.

Drink Responsibly

You should always ensure that everyone drinks responsibly and knows their limits. Consider putting transport on, or at least make everyone aware of public transport in the area. Be vigilant to make sure no one gets behind the wheel if they have had any alcoholic drinks. 

office party champagne

6. Figure out the Food

The next thing you need to think about is the catering. This is a big part of planning an office party, and how you decide to organise the party food will mostly depend on your budget and the number of guests you are catering for.

If your budget is tight, you can organise the party food yourself. The easiest option is to order party food from a local supermarket that can be made fresh and collected on the day of the event. This option is better if you have a small guest list and plenty of time. But what if you’re catering for a huge number of people?

It might be best in this case to hire a caterer. There are still plenty of different options to choose from though. You first need to decide if you’re going for a buffet-style or sit-down meal. Next, consider what type of food you want to serve. Are you looking for a specific cuisine? Can you tie it in with a theme? 

Then you can go ahead and look for caterers that fit the bill in your local area. It’s a good idea to book early to make sure you get the party food you want!

If you need some help, check out our complete guide to party food, for everything you need to know!

7. Make it Inclusive

If you’re hosting your annual office party around the holidays, you need to make sure it’s still inclusive for everyone. The last thing you want to do is make anyone feel uncomfortable or left out. So avoid any religious imagery and choose a theme that doesn’t make anyone feel excluded. 

8. Take Care of the Legal Side

You always need to make sure a full risk assessment is put in place before the party, no matter where you host it, and you need to make sure everyone has read it. 

Always ensure you’re covered by your liability insurance too. Check the policy for alcohol too. Consider consulting a lawyer to make sure everything is in place and you are fully covered. 

9. Pick the Theme

Every great office party has a theme. But which should you choose? Take a look at our list of the 20 best party theme to choose the perfect one for your company event. 

If you don’t fancy choosing a theme for your party then that’s no problem. But you need to at least pick a colour scheme for your party supplies and decorations. Black, white, gold and silver are classic colour scheme choices for an office party. If you want something a bit different but would like to stick with a sophisticated vibe, consider a pastel colour scheme. 

10. Plus One Policy

Consider if your office party will include plus ones. This can be a good idea if you’ve got a large budget for the party as you’ll need to allocate a lot more money to food and drinks if you allow extra guests.

You don’t need to allow plus ones though, but it might be a good idea to include your policy on the invitations to prevent any awkwardness if extra guests arrive on the night. 

11. Secret Santa

Secret Santa is a great idea for small company parties. It gets everyone involved without having to spend a lot on gifts. A £5-10 limit on each present is more than enough if you want to get involved.

If you’re hosting a large company party though, secret santa is not the most practical idea. Consider giving a small gift or some drinks vouchers to each employee as a thank you for their efforts over the year. Make sure no one gets left out and ensure you adhere to the companies anti-bribery and corruption policy. 

12. Encourage Employees to Get Involved

Don’t make the annual company party a compulsory event, but instead, make sure you encourage employees to attend. You can do this by promoting the event in the lead up to the big day. 

First, send a teaser email around 2-3 months before the party with the date and time and a few brief details, but don’t give to much away.

Then send some weekly clues regarding the theme or entertainment to build up some excitement around the event. Put some posters up on notice boards around the office too. You could also consider having some competitions for free drink vouchers and other goodies. 

You can then email out the proper invitations with everything your guests need to know including:

  • Venue
  • Date and Time 
  • Theme
  • Plus one policy
  • Dress code
  • Entertainment
  • Food 

Try and get everyone to respond if they’re planning on attending the office party around 4-8 weeks before the event. The exact timing will depend on how much notice your caterer and venue will need, but the earlier the better. 

13. State the Dress Code

Ensure the dress code is fully disclosed in the build up to the event on the invitation emails. 

If you’re going for a themed party, try and involve some fancy dress and encourage the employees to get involved. You can do this by holding a best fancy dress competition with a small prize for the winner. Include some fancy dress ideas on the invitation so everyone knows exactly what type of outfits to go for and so there’s no excuses for not getting involved!

Fun.com is a online huge party supply store that has loads of great costumes to choose from!

cocktail party dress code

14. Decorate the Venue

Decorating your venue is one of the most fun parts of planning an anniversary party! If you’ve not chosen a theme, you’ll need to at least decide on a colour scheme. 

So now you’ve narrowed it down a bit, what are some good decoration ideas for an office party? Here are our favourites:

  • Balloon or flower garlands at the entrance
  • Photographs from throughout the year or from the previous event
  • Personalised banners
  • Confetti balloons 
  • Floral centrepieces  

Make sure you check with your venue before buying any decorations, as they may provide them as part of the package. 

If you’re on a tight budget, head over to your local party supply store to find a range of great decorations and supplies that won’t cost a fortune. There are loads of ideas online too, so hop on Amazon or Ebay to find some inspiration for your office party.  

Shindigz is a great online party supply store that you can use to find great decoration ideas with over 34,000 party supplies for every occasion and next day delivery!  

Stumps Party is another awesome party supply store offering custom event supplies and regular deals and discounts. 

15. Think about Etiquette

It can be a good idea to include some points about etiquette on the office party invitations to make sure everyone has a good night and no one ends up embarrassing themselves. Here are some things to consider:

  • Be sensible with the drinks.
  • Don’t ignore the dress code.
  • Be prompt and arrive on time.
  • Respect the plus one policy.
  • Get involved with any activities or entertainment.

16. Make a Speech

It’s usually tradition for someone to make a speech or toast to the couple at an office party. It’s a good way to round off the year and thank all the employees for their hard work. Don’t go on too long though, you don’t want to make it all about work, the party should always be about having fun! Here’s the best tips for an office party speech:

  • Don’t make it about business specifics. This is not the time to be talking about your 10-point strategies and action plans.
  • Be brief. Aim for your speech to be around 2-3 minutes long.
  • Try and include a couple of jokes. Make sure they’re good though and know your audience. You don’t want to say anything cringe-worthy!
  • Thank everyone for their hard work and encourage them to have a great night!

17. Sort the Seating Plan

If you’re going for a sit-down meal at your office party, you’ll need to make a seating plan. If you want to keep things simple and avoid any dramas, you can simply split each table by department. But it can be a good idea to let the employees choose their tables. 

The easiest way is to create a Google Document and send it to everyone in an email. Just list the number of tables and seats and let each employee fill it in so they can sit with who they want. Make sure you put a deadline on it though, otherwise it’ll fall to the bottom of everyone’s to-do list. 

18. Consider Some Entertainment

Having some form of entertainment is a great at an office party. But don’t worry, it doesn’t have to break the bank!

Party Music

The first thing to think about is the party music. If you want a cheap option, you can make a playlist yourself. All you’ll need is an Apple Music account, some speakers, an AUX lead and your mobile phone! If you want some help check out our tips on creating the perfect party playlist.

Apple Music is the perfect way to create a party playlist. It’s intelligent recommendation feature makes it really quick to add songs to create the perfect track list and it’s cross fade feature makes seamless song transitions. It’s only $9.99/ £9.99 per month and you can get a free 3 month trial to check it out. And don’t worry, you can use it on Android devices too!

Join over 50 million subscribers and sign up for your 3 month free trial today! 

If you don’t trust yourself to DJ at your party, you can always hire a professional. They’re experts at getting the party started and keeping your guests entertained all night! You can also request some of the couple’s favourite songs to make sure it’s still personal. 

A live band is a slightly more expensive option, but certainly creates a great atmosphere. They can play chilled background music to create a sophisticated atmosphere, or be as lively as you like!

If you’re not sure what option is best for you, take a look at our ultimate party music guide to help you decide. But if you do plan on hiring someone, make sure you try and book them as soon as possible, as DJs and live bands can be quite popular and you don’t want to miss out!

Unique Entertainement

There are plenty of other ways to keep your everyone entertained at an office party. Here are some of the best ideas that are sure add the wow factor!

  • Ceilidh band
  • Acrobats
  • Dancers 
  • Magicians 
  • Photo booth
  • Caricaturists 
  • Glow shows
  • Silhouette artists
  • Human topiaries 
  • Sand artists

So there you have it! Now you have plenty of ideas to plan the perfect office party. We hope you and your employees have an amazing time!

Don’t forget to take a look at our party planning timeline to make sure you’ve got everything covered. 

It’ll tell you everything you need to do at each stage of the party planning process so you can create an amazing office party without any stress or worry about forgetting anything! It even includes a free printable party planning checklist to make sure you stay on track. 

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