Are you planning an office Christmas party?

In Ireland, it’s become something of a tradition for companies to host a Christmas party for their employees.

It’s a great opportunity to go over that year’s highlights, to promote the company culture and to unwind after a hard year’s work.

We’ve detailed here some of the key things to consider when planning your office party.

1. Make a Headcount

Do a quick headcount of the employees in order to estimate how many people will be attending your event. This estimation will inform a lot of your decisions. You don’t need a final count yet!

Are the employee’s partners invited? Depending on the size of your company this may or may not be possible.  If the objective of the event is to create new ties among the employees, this is something you might want to consider.  However, it will increase the overall size (and therefore cost) of the event.

2. Confirm the Budget

Before you start planning the office Christmas party, decide on the overall budget for the event. Again, you only need an estimate at this point. The easiest way to do this is to compare it to last year’s budget and increase (or decrease) it to match this year’s event size.

If this isn’t possible, you’ll need to do it manually.

Pro-tip: In addition to the total cost, you’ll want work out your total fixed costs (i.e the prices you’ll pay regardless of who shows up) and your variable costs (i.e the price you’ll pay for each employee who comes). 

3. Pick a Date

Pick a date for the Christmas party and start planning as early as possible. Remember every company in the area is looking at the same dates as you are.

Ideally, you’ll want to outline a couple of potential dates, between the end of November and mid-December, to host the Christmas party. If you aren’t the manager of the company, confirm these dates as soon as possible.

Overall attendance (and therefore success) of the event has a lot to do with when and where it is located.

For the party, you’re most likely going to be looking at: Thursdays, Fridays or Saturdays. Each has its pros and cons.

Thursday

Hosting an office party on a Thursday usually means more employees will be able to attend. The downside is that most people won’t be working the next day!

Friday & Saturday

It’s the weekend and people are free the next day. The downside is that the event might conflict with other plans which means you might end up with fewer acceptances and more cancellations.

4. Choose a Venue

At this point, you have a few dates to choose from. The next step is to contact potential venues you wish to hire for the occasion and see if they have availability.

Start as soon as possible! There are a lot of companies in Dublin and a limited number of venues. 

Start by making a list of venues that can hold the capacity of your event. Then narrow down the list by location. Location really matters. People are less likely to come if they don’t know how to get home.

You can find most of this information online. What you most likely won’t find is price and availability. You’ll need to call them directly for that information.

Depending on the venue, they usually charge per head (most often when you’re booking a meal) or a flat fee for the room. Neither option is better than the other. They’re just different ways of working. 

Pro-tip: If the venue you’re booking is a hotel, ask if there is availability for your guests to stay there. And if they will offer a discount for them?

5. Plan the Food & Drinks

At an office Christmas party it’s customary to offer at least a few free drinks and some finger food to the guests. The amount depends entirely on your budget.

Drinks

When it comes to drinks, the bill can add up fast. So if the budget doesn’t permit free drinks for the whole event,  it’s customary to give a few free drinks to guests. There are a few common ways to approach this:

  • Drink Vouchers

This is the simplest and most common approach. Simple give for 3 or 4 drink vouchers to every guest as they arrive. They can order what they want by exchanging each voucher for a drink, and then they pay for everything afterwards.

  • Open Bar

With open bars, your guests get to order for free. It’s definitely a luxury as it can get expensive fast! Talk with the venue directly to see what they usually do.

There are different types of open bars. The names vary from place to place but the concepts are the same:

  • No Top shelf: An open bar where you can order anything except ‘top shelf’ products (i.e The really expensive brands).
  • Premium: An open bar where you can order anything you want. Including top-shelf products.

Generally, you’ll want to agree ahead of time with the venue, how much money you want to spend. After that, the bartenders will revert back to a cash bar. 

  • BYOB

While BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottles) may be an option depending on the venue. The venue might not have an alcohol license and others will allow it as an option if they charge simply for the venue hire.

It’s cheaper but it’s also a bit more work. You’re going to want to estimate the number of drinks (and therefore bottles) you need to buy. Then, you’ll most likely want to hire some staff to serve the drinks on the night.

Pro-tip: Only open bottles as you go. Many off licenses will gladly take back unopened products. 

Food

Food can be simpler, especially if you are just planning finger food. If the event is later in the evening, most guests will have dinner before arriving. Many venues can provide finger food or more formal menus, depending on your format. If they don’t, they can probably recommend a catering company they usually work with.

Pro-tip: Make sure some of the food options you provide are vegetarian. By default, this isn’t necessarily the case.  And ask beforehand if any guests have any special dietary requirements

6. Pick a Party Theme

When planning a Christmas party, having a theme is optional but it always adds to the overall atmosphere of the event.

In this case, you’ll want it to be either related (even distantly) to your company/industry and/or Christmas. If you’re looking for inspiration, start by looking at a list of classic Christmas movies.  

For some more ideas, you can also check out our list of classic party themes for adults.

7. Book the Entertainment

Entertainment is a key component of any party. Don’t overlook it.

You’re most likely going to want to hire an entertainer for the occasion. Start your search process early; many entertainers can only do one party a night… and their calendars fill up quickly in December.

DJ, Live Bands or Singers

You’ll obviously want some music.

Playlists are fine for ambient music but don’t work well for parties. You’ll probably want to book a band, a singer or a DJ to perform at your event.

All three options are suitable for large events (100+). However, for smaller events (and especially smaller rooms), you’ll want to restrict yourself to a Singer or a DJ.

You can view prices, pictures and reviews of some of the best DJ & Singers in Dublin directly on PartyWizz.

Pro-tip: Check out our separate article for some advice on booking the best live bands.

Magician

If you want to go the extra mile, why no hire a magician to go around the room and entertain your guests, small groups at a time. It’s different, it’s fun and it will make your event really memorable.

You can view prices, pictures and reviews of some of the best magicians in Dublin directly on PartyWizz.

Photo booths

Photo booths have become party staples. They come in all shape and sizes. We’ve dedicated an entire article to hiring a great photo booth which you can check out.

You can view prices, pictures and reviews of some of the best photo booths in Dublin directly on PartyWizz.

Pro-tip: As you’re organising a Christmas party, ask for seasonal props!

8. Plan Activities & Games

Along with the entertainment, you’ll want to plan some games and activities on the night.

As it’s a broad topic, we’ve published an entire article on easy corporate entertainment ideas and activities. You can also check out our article on fun (and silly) party games.

Don’t overdo it with activities; 2 or 3 is plenty.   

You’ll also want to make space in your schedule for speeches. It’s a great time to do a quick recap of the year. It’s also worth giving mentions (and rewards?) to key employees. Don’t do these speeches too late as some people will have left or the effects of alcohol may become a distraction!

9. Photographer

Pictures are essential if you want the memory of the event to last. You may want to hire a professional photographer for the occasion, at least for the start of the event when people arrive looking their best.

10. Send out the Invitations

You’ll want to send out invitations in order to keep track of your Christmas party RSVPs.

The easiest way is to keep it all digital. You can use Canva to create nice invitations & Jotform to collect the responses.

Alternatively, if you want to go the extra mile, you can send out physical invitations. It’s an extra cost and effort but it makes the event extra special. There are a lot of online and offline printshops in Dublin you can use for this.

That’s a Wrap

We hope you have a great Christmas Party and the everyone has fun. If you’ve enjoyed this content, why not stay in touch?

At PartyWizz, we favour content quality over quantity. So rest assured, we won’t flood your inbox!