Holiday parties are so much fun, but planning them can be a stressor. This holiday party planning checklist will help you rock this year’s company holiday party planning with minimal stress and maximum fun.
Chicago Company Holiday Party Planning Phase 1: The Basics
The most important things you need to do when planning a holiday party for your organization or company are these tasks:
- Choose your date. Red hot company party dates this year will be: December 12, December 18 and December 19. That doesn’t mean you HAVE to plan a party on any of those days. Often times, when you plan your holiday party on an “off” day, such as a Sunday or midweek day, you will find much more availabilities with your preferred venues and partners (i.e. caterer!).
- Decide the guest list. This does not have to be finalized so early in the planning process, but you should definitely have a ballpark number in mind. Once you move on to steps three and four, you will need to know as close to your actual guest count as possible so that your catering and venue choices make sense for the number of people attending your holiday party.
- Find an available venue. Once you have the perfect date picked out, you need to find a venue that can accommodate your guest count and that is available on your chosen date.
- Call a caterer/planner. Contacting your preferred caterer this early in the game is a very smart thing to do. You are not only ensuring that they are available to work with you on your chosen date but also that you will have plenty of time to share whatever ideas you have cooked up for your event with your caterer and planner. Then they can do their thing and turn your holiday party into something really memorable.
- Give your holiday party a theme. Want something relatable and festive? Or perhaps something totally unique? Share your ideas with your caterer or planner to get the brainstorm process rolling. They are professionals who should be able to transform any ideas into reality, so get their creative brains involved and you will be so happy with the result.
Chicago Company Holiday Party Planning Phase 2: Menus and Bar Ideas
- Choose your food service type. What type of food service do you envision at your company’s holiday party this year? Your choice will depend on several factors: 1) your preference, 2) budget, 3) guest count, 4) venue size and 5) setup. Of course there are other factors, such as the holiday party theme, but ultimately the conversations you will have with your caterer will give them enough of an idea to really make your food service something special.
- Pick your menu. With plenty of time to spare, you should narrow down and select your menu. Sometimes, you already know just what you want to serve. Other times, you might want to taste test before committing to a particular dish. For example, Tasty Catering invites our clients in for lunch every Tuesday so that guests can give their potential Chicago holiday menu a try.
- Choose your bar and beverages. Will you be offering a bar to your adult guests? If so, choose a bar package that matches your theme. For example, have a bubbly champagne cocktail as your signature drink for a White Christmas-themed party or something really fruity and sweet for a Candyland-themed holiday party.
Chicago Company Holiday Party Planning Phase 3: The Details
- Hire entertainment. We recommend incorporating holiday-related activities for your Chicago holiday party entertainment, such as cookie decorating, wine tasting, caroling, dancing (with a band or DJ), listening to a local choir or watching roving entertainment. You will want to book your entertainment well in advance of the start of the holiday season, as entertainment tends to book quickly this time of year.
- Design the venue layout. Work with your caterer and/or event planner to solidify the event layout. This will be dependent on many things, such as your guest count, style of food service, bar size, venue size, etc.
- Rent equipment. Again, you will want to work with your caterer or venue coordinator for this task. Equipment would include tables, chairs, linens, décor, place settings, stage equipment (i.e. podium), garbage cans (if necessary) and more. Be sure to double check with both your caterer and venue coordinator about setup and cleanup equipment needed.
- Create a timeline. Work against your deadlines. If you must be out of your venue by a certain time, create the timeline backwards. If you can’t get into the venue until a certain time, work forward. If you are having a special speaker or guest of honor, then work forward and backward from that. Focus on one or two important elements (hint: food service is always an important element of a holiday party) and build the rest of your event around those items.
- Market the event. You will want an excellent turn out to your Chicago holiday party, so make sure you let your guests know well in advance. Essentially, you will be competing against dozens of other Christmas parties in your guests’ lives, so the sooner you get the word out, and the better you market the event as the fun and memorable experience it is sure to be, the more attendees you will have. An invitation alone is probably not the only way you will want to let your guests know about the event, either. Make sure to hang posters and flyers and send out repeated reminders all with enticing messages.
Chicago Company Holiday Party Planning Checklist
Use this checklist to make everything easier. And as always, if you need any help, just give us a call at 847.593.2000 or reach out online.