Company Holiday Party Planning 101

November 12, 2018 Julia Daihl


You’ve been tasked with planning this year’s office holiday party – woohoo! Where do you even begin? How do you make sure you stay within the holiday party budget? The decorations, the food, the theme, the task list; it all seems never-ending. We understand that planning the office party can be daunting, which is why we’ve created a brief guide to help you rock the holiday party planning like never before!

Company Holiday Party Planning 101


Holiday Party Planning Timeline Checklist

Download Holiday Party Planning Checklist

Timing makes perfect, right? Okay, so it might not be how the phrase goes, but planning in a timely manner will help keep your holiday office party on track and running smoothly.

Our friends over at Real Simple have a great timeline to host a party at home, which we adapted for a work environment. So, we pose this great question: “Not sure whether to chill the wine or just plain chill?” follow this guide when you feel like just forgetting the chill and taking all the wine.

*Please note, this timeline is ideal for a medium sized company. Dependent on your company (or party) size, the timeline may need to adjust.*

5-6 Weeks Before

  • Set the date! Determine whether your people need a boost right in the middle of the holiday madness, or whether they deserve a big celebration after the new year.
  • Select a party theme (no worries, we’ll give some ideas for that a little later)!
  • Pick a venue location – your company’s building is a great option, especially if you want to put more of your budget into other things like food and music!
  • Decide on a caterer (if not included in your venue) and any other major vendors – we highly recommend a live band to fuel the good vibes and good vibrations!

3-4 Weeks Before

  • Confirm food and drink options (if tastings are offered, be sure to test the food out and keep in mind any allergies your co-workers may have).
  • Create your office party playlist if you are not using a music vendor – Vogue shared 5 top DJ’s holiday mixes, which can be found here.
  • Send out invitations or e-invites – this could be as simple as an all staff email, but something is needed to get the celebration on their calendars!

1-2 Weeks Before

  • Make sure all decorations and party supplies needed are ordered or bought
  • Buy employee holiday gifts, if presenting at the party

Day of the Party

  • Decorate the office party space and add final touches.
  • Get ready for all the reindeer games and fun!

Office Holiday Party Planning Must-Haves

What is even needed for a holiday office party? Here’s a checklist to help you plan the ultimate holiday office party:

  • A space to have the party!
  • A party theme
  • Good food and great drinks (signature drinks are always a hit!)
  • Festive music to keep rockin' around the Christmas tree
  • Invitations that match your holiday party theme
  • Decorations to deck the halls (budget friendly tip:don't be afraid to hit up a Dollar Store for some DIY materials!)
  • Employee gifts or party favors
  • Activity or game (Try putting one of our Print-n-Posts at each place setting and encourage employees to give recognition to someone else throughout the duration of the party or do a cookie exchange!)

Office Holiday Party Theme Ideas

Great office holiday parties start with great holiday party themes. Here are three awesome ones to help inspire your festive fun!

Classic: Winter Wonderland

Dazzle and shine with this theme – we’re talking full on glittered fake snow, tinseled topped trees, and icy blue color schemes.

Casual Fun: Ugly Sweater Party

Will ugly sweaters ever get old? We don’t think so. Host a more casual Christmas party with an ugly sweater contest, seasonal beer, and classic party games with a festive twist!

Fancy Festivity: Old Hollywood Glam

Roll out the red carpet and ask your guests to dress in their best! Make this night one they won’t forget by emulating the enchantment of the rich and famous. Hire “paparazzi” to capture guests as they walk in and adorn the bar with a luxurious ice sculpture!

Office Holiday Party Planning: What Not To Do

Here are a few things to avoid when planning the perfect holiday office party:

  • Avoid excluding people.
    • Not everyone may get into the holiday spirit and that’s okay! Remember to respect employee’s decision to participate or not.
  • Avoid over doing it.
    • Okay, we just recommended an ice sculpture, so this tip may be a bit confusing, but it’s important to stick to the theme and only plan what makes sense. You’re planning Hollywood Glam and your budget fits and ice sculpture? That’s not over doing it then!
  • Avoid DIY-ing Everything.
    • Pinterest can be such a blessing, but if you don’t have months to prepare and a team of people to work on hand-making each decoration and platter passed, leave it to the professionals to help pull your wonderful party off. It will save you time and quite a few headaches!

Want more ideas on some festive fun? Follow our blog today!


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