The ultimate guide to throwing a great company party
It’s that time again – chilly weather, shorter days, and the lead up to the festive season. If you’re starting your company party preparations, here’s an early gift from MOO in the form of our best tips.
If you’ve been tasked with organizing the end-of-year staff party, you may be wondering where to begin. Getting it right requires a blend of creative thinking, organizational skills and a flair for fun. It might sound like a tall order, but with helpful suppliers, practical tips and a rock-solid party plan, you’ll soon have everything falling into place.
It might be your first time as a party planner, or maybe you’re simply looking to kick things up a gear as the decade draws to an end. Either way, here’s how to have an unforgettable company party that staff will remember happily for years to come.
Picking a party theme
Whether you’re working in an office of fancy dress enthusiasts or you just know that everyone’s looking forward to letting off steam with some late-night karaoke, a theme for your party can be a great way to pull everything together and help guests relax and get into the festive spirit.
A company party theme can be almost anything, as long as it’s not too controversial – steering clear of religion, sex and politics is always a good rule of thumb. Check with your HR department before getting started.
Your choice of theme will probably depend on the size of company you work for, the industry it’s in and the mix of people who will attend.
If you work in a smaller company where co-workers share social time as well as working closely together, it could be something that’s in tune with the interests of your team, even if they’re quite niche. Maybe everyone loves a certain TV show, or you work in an industry such as gaming or fashion where there’s plenty of scope for having fun with work subjects.
There are also some classic party themes that have become perennial favorites, such as:
- Masquerade party
- Festive potluck dinner
- Elf costume party
- Secret Santa gift swap
- Seasonal sweater party (the uglier, the better)
If your team has mixed interests, is large or includes a wide range of demographics and cultures, consider a broader theme that everyone will recognize and enjoy. For example,
- colors – you could have a black and white dress code, invite guests to wear rainbows, or decorate the venue and invitations using only gold or silver foil.
- places – like a tropical beach themed party where everyone wears sunglasses, or a Cinco de Mayo theme with a Mexican dinner menu and sugar skull decor.
- drinks – a cocktail or mocktail theme means you can get everyone channeling their inner mixologist, or hire a pro and print drinks tickets for guests to sample their concoction of choice.
Another way to broaden the appeal of your event is to hold it in the daytime. An afternoon event such as an indoor picnic or pancake toss could be a handy option if your company has a strong work-life balance, and many co-workers have young families they want to bring along.
A popular option is to theme your party around the venue you’ve chosen. Unless your party is happening at your company premises, you can book somewhere unusual and make the venue, activities and party theme all tie in together for an even more memorable effect.
Here are a few ideas that could work as a venue tie-in or simply a stand-alone theme for your company party.
Have fun with an underwater theme featuring shimmery decorations and fish-themed name cards, or get everyone to dress as a sea creature – mermaids and mermen included.
- Sports event
Treat the team to seats at a match or contest, or simply hire out the local venue’s hospitality suite and have sports-related decor. Guests can choose between party wear or their favorite team jerseys.
Have guests dress according to a period from history and use your decoration skills to surround them with pyramids, temples, columns and wild west towns. Vintage style fonts for menus and invitations will add to the period charm.
- Theater or cinema
Famous actors or characters from movies can supply the costume ideas, and you could bring clapperboards, director’s chairs and megaphones into your decoration. Why not mock up theater tickets and programs to act as your invitations and menus?
- Barge or floating restaurant
Go for a nautical theme, ask guests to dress in blue and white and adorn your decoration, menu cards and invites with anchors, compasses and ship’s wheels. Seafood menu optional, of course.
- Circus or cabaret
So many possibilities, whether or not you actually visit the circus or cabaret club. Acrobats, dancers, jugglers, mimes and magicians can inspire both costumes and design ideas.
Whichever theme you choose, make sure it’s applied consistently across all of your party planning, including invitations, flyers, place settings and venue decoration. You can really have fun and be creative at this stage, so why not explore and try out a few ideas for themes before you send off for your printed party materials.
Building the buzz for your company party
Anticipation is half the fun of holiday parties, which is why it’s so important to start preparing early and building awareness of your festive plans. Here are some of the ways you can generate buzz about your coming event.
- Save-the-date cards
Like an invitation, but with a hint of mystery! The save-the-date card gets the all-important date in staff diaries and starts them thinking about things like who to invite, if it’s a plus-one, and how to arrange their home commitments around the party. Choose a design that’s in keeping with your party theme but doesn’t give too much away.
Follow up on your save-the-date cards with a full invitation that explains where and when the party is happening and everything guests need to know, including dress code, party theme, a schedule for the night’s dining and entertainment, plus practical details and transport options (Is there a bus stop nearby? Should guests with reduced mobility get in touch with you to arrange access?)
- Envelopes and RSVP cards
RSVPing via a notecard and envelope is a fun way to get guests feeling the party spirit ahead of time, and it also gives you the chance to collect any special requirements or suggestions guests have for the night. For example, you could ask them to write down a song that will get them up on the dancefloor so you can include it in the DJ setlist.
Use the occasion as a chance to mark the achievements of staff members with a semi-serious awards ceremony. In advance, you can invite nominations from everyone as a way to build excitement for the event. As well as more serious role-related awards, throw in some joke ones like ‘person least likely to make their deskmate’s coffee’ or ‘most fridge leftovers’.
- Costume contest
Announce that there will be a prize for the best costume at the party – this news is sure to get the more competitive team members interested, even if you haven’t yet announced the party theme.
- Charity donation drive
Turn your party into a chance to share the festive spirit with your community. Ask guests to bring a donation item for your chosen charity, such as canned goods or children’s toys.
- Menu cards
A menu card can be placed alongside a buffet, on the bar for cocktail menus, at each table setting, or shared in advance of the day. It can be a handy way to gather information about food preferences and special diets, for example if you have a meat-free main as well as a turkey roast, you can ask guests to tick which one they prefer on the card.
Your party planning checklist
Here’s a handy list of things you might want to arrange for your company party. Of course we’re not saying you need to do all of them – you’re only human, we get it – but this way you won’t forget any essentials. Feel free to download and edit this so you can turn it into your own ultimate party masterplan.
- Write invitee list
- Design invitations and cards
- Send out save-the-dates
- Make seating plans
- Collect any special dietary and access requirements
Food and table settings
- Caterer or restaurant booked
- Special diet requests received
- Drink tickets printed (MiniCards work well)
- Place cards printed
- Table number cards
- Greetings cards for guests
- Table decorations
- Punch, punchbowl and glasses
- Cocktail station
- Menu cards
- Spray snow
- Tree and menorrah
- Live music
- PA system
- Dancefloor area
- Photo booth with props
- Games (charades, pin the tail on the donkey)
- Secret Santa planning
- Stickers and/or prizes for award-winners
Team roles and tasks
- Door person
- Coat check
- Taxi booking
- Clean-up crew
Looking to lighten the load? With MOO Business Services, you’ll be assigned an Account Manager who will set up your account and be available to answer any printing-related questions you have. Fill in the form here and we’ll give you a call back!
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