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It’s not too early

The question last week raised the broader issue of planning holiday parties. While many companies may be downsizing their holiday event, that doesn’t mean that any less care should be taken with planning the party. In fact, given the economic necessities of tighter belts and having to do more with less—all stress inducers at the workplace—hosting a holiday party is one way a company can give back to the employees, even if that party is down-sized itself. As that season is fast approaching, consider the following advice for successfully planning your company’s holiday party:

Pre-planning: Start now to line up a date for the event. If it will be off-site and you haven’t done so already, this week check to see if the facility can accommodate you on your preferred date. Be ready with a couple of optional dates if your first choice isn’t available.


If the event is on-site, decide what food will be served and who will provide it: catered or will people each bring a dish. If catered, line up a caterer now and arrange for what will be served, hors d’oeuvres a light supper or a full meal. Same goes for drinks.
Guest list: Decide now who will be invited. All employees, of course, but what about spouses and significant others? If an employee is single, can he or she bring a guest? Don’t wait until you’re asked to set a policy, do it now and avoid confusion later.
Invitations: Send invitations at least three weeks prior to the event. As the invitations are for office personnel, an e-mail blast to all the employees is perfectly appropriate. It’s a good idea to include a respond by date.
RSVP follow-up: As the planner, you need to know how many people to expect. Unfortunately, the biggest frustration for all planners is invitees who don’t respond to the invitation. No matter how emphatic you make your request, a certain percentage are sure not to reply. Be prepared to contact the recalcitrant invitees a second time, and it may have to be by phone if you want to pin them down.

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