Yes, you need to start planning your office holiday party now.

So you’ve been tasked with planning the annual employee holiday party for your company. But that’s okay, you may think. After all, it’s only August, and I have still plenty of time. I’ll just put it at the end of my to-do list. Right?

Wrong. You are so, so wrong.

If you are reading this blog post now and haven’t done any prep work, you are already late in planning your office holiday party. Event spaces book up fast during the holiday season, restaurants are going to be slammed with catering orders, and employees need to know key dates for company-wide events well in advance so they can plan their schedules. The longer you wait to get started, the greater the chance that something is going to fall through the cracks. And with all of the employees who are planning to attend and judge every detail, it’s extremely important to put your best foot forward with this soiree.

Are you panicked yet? No need to worry – that’s why we’re here! Here are five steps that can make planning your holiday office party quick, easy and painless.


1. First, pick a theme. Are you thinking black tie affair, or a night out playing arcade games? The possibilities are practically endless, and some may be more fitting than others, depending on whether or not families and significant others will be invited to attend. Get the theme figured out right away so that you can put a check mark next to the basics such as time, date, location, and even things like decorations and color scheme. Be sure to involve a handful of other employees to pick the theme out, too – that way you’ll have backup in your choice. Once you have your direction, you can select a menu that coincides with the theme. We at Dinova have made this especially easy with our Holiday Dining Guide, which can help you find a restaurant for your event in just a few minutes. Our Dining Guide showcases to holiday hotspots in our most popular locations for the season of lights and focuses on their party offerings, from catering to private dining venues.

2. Make an agenda. An agenda will help ensure that everything goes smoothly and that you have assistance where needed. Start your agenda with the time of day in which you or a party-planning company will be setting everything up so that you won’t be sweating the details at the last minute (like figuring out when the decor can be hung). Be sure to note all important times as well, including when you want the CEO to speak, when you plan to have food served, and so forth.

3. Have a team by your side. We recommend assembling a party team within your company to help bring everything from concept to execution, but remember – it’s about quality, not quantity. You don’t need a representative from every department to help you with this – in fact, that’s probably a mistake as it would distract from employees’ actual jobs. Empower a small team of individuals and be sure to include people in human resources and marketing – that way you’ll have someone to talk corporate policy and someone to talk look and feel.

4. Announce the basics. There are some key details that many office party planners fail to realize are of the utmost importance to employees attending the holiday party. What is the dress code? Will alcohol be served, and will it be an open bar? Will there be dinner or appetizers, and what time will the food be offered? Establish the answers to these questions well in advance and be sure to inform your company so that they are prepared. It’s also important to remind your guests that at the end of the day, they are representing the company at a workplace event and are expected to be on their best behavior as they enjoy the soiree.


5. Do something good. One portion of the holiday party that is often overlooked until the last minute is the fundraising aspect, yet our research shows that corporate social responsibility is very important to employees. Consider designating a charity to partner with for your party and keep it simple. Tried and true ideas include a toy drive, sponsoring a family for the season or donating food to a local shelter. Heck, you can even make the fundraising aspect the theme for your event, such as participating in a pre-party Santa 5k walk/run!

While you are definitely behind schedule if you haven’t started planning your office holiday party yet, it’s not the end of the world. Keep things simple, invite collaboration, and of course, remember that the event is supposed to be fun! Go ahead and get started – and get a jump on selecting your party’s location and food choices by using our Dinova Holiday Dining Guide to find the perfect restaurant to best suit your needs.