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The 5 W’s of Christmas party planning

The Christmas party season is just around the corner. If you’re thinking ‘oh no…I haven’t even thought about what we’re doing this year’, don’t fret – it’s not too late to get organised.

You don’t need to be an expert party planner to make it a successful event either. Some initial planning will help make life easier when time is of the essence (and if budget is a constraint).

Here’s a beginner’s guide to Christmas party planning – the five W’s:

What: Every business is different when it comes to what type of event. Depending on your budget and what would appeal to your staff and other guests involved, it could be anything from lunch or dinner at a local or lavish restaurant, a cocktail party at your office, a party on a boat, high tea at a hotel, a backyard bbq or an afternoon at the races. If you’re stuck for ideas, check in with the rest of the team and think of last year’s festivities that you attended and enjoyed. There’s no right or wrong. One of the best events I’ve attended was paint-ball.

Who: There’s always the question of who will attend. I’ve been to a mix of Christmas events where it’s just staff only; others with staff, partners and clients; and one for just clients and partners. It’s up to you, but it’s important to think about why you’re putting on the event… and how many dollars you or your staff have to put towards their partner attending.

Why: It’s all about celebration right? Do you want to celebrate with just your team or to also celebrate with your key clients, partners and / or suppliers as a relationship-building exercise? If you and the team just want to ‘let your hair down’ then I suggest keeping it as a ‘staff only’ event. But if you also want to invite some of your key clients, partners and/or suppliers to the same event – you could invite them for the start of the event (and be clear in your invitation when the event finishes).

Where: Location is important as venues will start to book up quickly. So ring around, make enquiries and devise a shortlist of your top three. It’s okay to tentatively place a booking if you can’t decide there and then. And if that venue is unavailable in the evening, check if they are available for lunch or in the afternoon for happy hour. There’s always a solution. Somewhere close to the office or in a central location is usually the best for transport reasons, but again, there’s no right or wrong. 

When: Ensure that your chosen date/time will work for you and your team. It sounds obvious but if you have a team of part-timers or a team that’s always on the road, it can be hard to find the time to suit everyone. December is usually the Christmas party season month but it’s also the busiest for many businesses so perhaps an event in November will be more convenient (it’s something my hair salon does as each day in December is booked for clients). You could even look to next year, e.g. a Chinese New Year celebration.

The annual Christmas party shouldn’t be a burden; it should be a time for celebration for all the hard work you’ve done this year. Good luck and happy Christmas party planning!