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A Guide to organising your office holiday party (and staying sane)!

Of the many fun jobs that an office manager undertakes, few are more enjoyable than organising a work office party; be it for Christmas, summer or a leaving bash.

But you’ll need buckets of patience, plenty of organisational skills and a black book of contacts to pull it off. Plus, an appreciation for office politics and the stamina to make numerous group hotel bookings thrown in for good measure.

Easing you in to party season, here’s our insider’s guide to organising an office party with flair and vigour…. while keeping your sanity firmly in tact!

Save the Date

It all starts with a date. A date that no doubt will get changed a million times. So, make it easy for yourself and confer with the main decision-makers first. It’s pretty impossible to find a date that will suit everyone, so don’t be a crowd pleaser.

Once the date is locked down, send a ‘save the date’ to all colleagues. Be prepared for 189,429 emails asking questions. To avoid this, make it clear that more information will be provided in the coming days, from details on group hotel bookings to timings. Jeez, people are impatient eh!

Location, Location, Location

An important party deserves an important venue. Sure, it’s tempting to go to the dive bar around the corner, but where’s the fun in that?! 

Stuck for inspiration? Perhaps look at where you’ll be making group hotel bookings. From a logistics point of view, it’s easier for the party and accommodation to be held in the same location. It also means you don’t have to worry about booking transfers or sorting breakfasts for nursing hangovers the next day!

Overnighters

On that note, you’ll need to think about overnight accommodation – don’t forget remote workers or clients travelling in for the occasion. Using your corporate travel system, look for group hotel bookings that can be made in bulk. With the savings made, you can put the money behind the bar for good measure!

If you decide to offer room sharing, there’s a whole Pandora’s box of issues to be prepared for. It may therefore be best to ask colleagues who they’d like to share a room with in this eventuality.

Go-to Portal

It’s always useful to have a microsite or portal where details of the company office party are kept. This will save you being asked the same question repeatedly by colleagues.  Include accommodation details, and links here for everyone to see. 

You might want to also include a link to the corporate travel guidelines for good measure.

While WhatsApp is a great tool for everyday use, it’s best to steer clear of for mass messages. The last thing you want is a company-wide reply-to-all from Brenda in accounts about what to wear to the party. You know it would happen!

Much better to keep communication one way, stick with a portal. 

Set out Clear Guidelines

You say ‘office party’ they say ‘a night on the lash’! Keep your colleagues in check by providing clear, helpful guidelines in advance. This might include use of company cards, expansible charges and professional conduct. We all know things will get a little ‘loose’, so lay some ground rules if necessary. 

Set the Right Tone

Work get-together’s should be a fun occasion, not stuffy and corporate. Avoid unnecessary speeches or formal announcements, this is the time to let your hair down and laugh at some bad dad dancing! Be prepared to push back on senior management on this one… 

Office Politics

Office politics are hard to avoid. This is particularly true when it comes to seating arrangements and table layout. When in doubt, secretaries and PA’s are the font of all knowledge. Befriend them, get to know them, heck offer to smuggle a bottle of bubbly into the venue for them! These guys will tell you what you really need to know, from room sharing advice on group hotel bookings to inside goss.

Entertainment

Do your team like to sing, or are they more into darts? How about fancy dress, or a company game of Twister? It’s always advisable to have some form of entertainment to keep colleagues in good spirits. Award ceremonies are a great way to recognise helpful team members and remember special memories from the year. 

Get the Bubbly Flowing

Every company will have its own budget and limitations. But try and find way to squeeze in a drink or two for each colleague and they’ll thank you for it. But most importantly of all, you’ll thank yourself! After all those months of planning and bartering for the best deal, you deserve a glass of something fizzy.

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