Congratulations! It's holiday time and you are now the official office party planner! So now what?
Number 1: Logistics - Get on the boss's schedule to ask some very important logistical questions. Remember the 5 W's - Who, What, Where, When, Why - they all apply to this step in the party planning process. Questions like: When would they like the party to occur? (day, date, time) How many people are invited/expected to attend? (Spouses, Families) What is the budget? (overall, per person) What type of party are they expecting? (casual, cocktail, upscale dinner) Is the party purely for entertainment or is there a recognition aspect to it? And, Where should the party happen? will help you understand the basics for the party. And if the answer to the last one is not "at the office" then you have some additional work to do to find a suitable venue.
Number 2: Theme - Now that you know a little more about the basics you can start diving into each piece of the party individually. The type of the party will help drive a lot of the future decisions including choosing a Theme or Scheme. A Black Tie event will come together very differently than an Ugly Sweater party. There are lots of Themes to choose from for a party...Winter Wonderland, Great Gatsby, Fire and Ice...or you can simply go with a Color Scheme. Choose complimentary colors for this...anything across from each other on the color wheel work well together or choose one color and pair the color to the right and left on the wheel as accents. Once you know your theme you can choose appropriate decor including tablescapes, wall/ceiling hangings and even furniture. The theme will also help with decisions on the rest of the steps.
Number 3: Food - The biggest party of most party budgets is spent on food. It may sound crazy but think about every party you have been to and try and remember what it included. I guarantee one of the first things you remember is the food...good or bad. If you are having the party at your office then call around to local caterers and have them put together a menu based on your budget, likely it will be a buffet in this case. If you have chosen a restaurant venue then work with the staff to choose the right selection for your party. If you are using a different type of venue then check which are the preferred caterers for that venue and go from there. Many restaurants and caterers offer special pre-selected holiday menus which will make choosing the food a little easier. And don't forget about the beverages! If you plan on having spirits at the party then decide whether you will have a self serve station or a tended bar. If you are looking to keep your beverage budget friendly then perhaps choose to disburse drink tickets to your guests or base the bar on a limited consumption. Keep in mind, the mark-up on alcohol is 200% in most cases and so an open bar can quickly eat up your budget...or drink up in this case.
Number 4: Entertainment - The type and theme of the event will help you decide on the entertainment. Is it an upscale dinner event? Then consider a string quartet playing the classics. Is it a fun, casual party? Then perhaps a DJ would work. Throw in a photo booth and you have a party! Just remember that with any event you want to create an atmosphere for all 5 senses. You will have sight (and some touch) with the decor and smell/taste with the food so entertainment should fulfill the sound and part of the touch senses.
Number 5: Invites - You have all of the elements in place to make the party happen, except one....the guests. The invitations should mirror the theme of the event and include all pertinent information that the guest will need. Remember those 5 W's? Put them all in there! And don't forget to include things like dress code, directions to venue, request for dietary restrictions, RSVP instructions and contact information in case anyone has questions. The more information, the better so that people feel comfortable from the start.
Lastly, HAVE FUN! Party planning is all about organization and creativity and are usually for celebratory reasons so CELEBRATE! Someone trusted you with this task because you were probably the right one for the job (or you were at the wrong place at the right time) but it doesn't have to be stressful. However, if it is...give Lou & Pepper a call! We can help you plan your party whether large or small. We have packages that range from a Party in a Box to a full Custom Party. And not just for the holidays! Lou & Pepper is available year-round for any office celebration.
So, Happy Holidays....Eat, Drink, Be Merry and Make Life a Party!
Andrea & Cristina