Raise your hand if you’ve ever left planning a holiday party to the last minute. You can’t see, but our hands raised. We’ve talked about why you should start planning early, but even we are guilty of having to plan a last-minute holiday party. Are you only a few months out and scrambling to get everything ready? Check out tips from our event planners to guarantee your last-minute holiday party is still unforgettable.
Set a Budget.
Venues and caterers book up fast around the holidays so you can be left with very few options. Knowing what your budget is will help you narrow down your options. Our event planners recommend budgeting at least $100-$150 per person. Remember, always try to stay at least a couple hundred dollars below budget to account for unexpected expenses.
Read more about budgeting for a holiday office party here.
Decide on the type of event.
Depending on the purpose of the event, you might consider several options. Has your company recently downsized? A casual Sunday afternoon picnic might be more appropriate. Has your company surpassed revenue targets? An extravagant theme party on a yacht might be the reward everyone is waiting for. Knowing what you’re looking for will help you select a venue and a menu, two of the hardest parts.
Be flexible with your dates.
When it comes to parties, not all dates are created equal.Fridays and Saturdays are the go-to, but they are also the most expensive. Besides, not all employees will want to give up their weekend plans. Thursdays are a great weekday option, but if your budget is your biggest concern, Mondays through Wednesdays will be your cheapest option. Another consideration, throw the party early before the holiday pricing surge comes around, or even in January!
Read more about selecting the right date for your office party here.
Decide on food, beverage, and entertainment in advance.
Are you looking for a casual lunch or a formal sit-down dinner? Do you need vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options? Will a hand-crafted playlist work or are you looking for a DJ? Having these answers ready will not only help you select your venue, but it will help your venue offer you the best package they have. Don’t forget to check with your venue to see if they have a list of preferred vendors.
Put the word out.
This seems obvious, but it’s easy to forget. Once you know the date, send out an email to all attendees so they can block it out. It’s okay if all the details aren’t set in stone — you can send out a time, place, and theme once you’re ready. Don’t forget to include an RSVP option to track attendance.
Send out a reminder.
Again, seems obvious, but if no one shows up, this might be the reason why. We recommend sending an invite out two weeks before the event, including all details necessary.
Make it an activity potluck.
Potlucks aren’t just for food. A last minute party doesn’t mean lacking in fun. Get your guests involved by asking them to bring their favorite holiday-themed game. This guarantees everyone will have something they enjoy, plus, it makes a great icebreaker if you’ve never played a certain game.
Read more about holiday office party activities here.
Look at venue packages.
Don’t add extra stress by trying to plan the venue, food, decorations, and music. A lot of venues have event planners who can do everything for you. Everything? Yes. everything — just ask!
At Hornblower, we offer a variety of packages, no matter your budget. Whether you’re looking for a cocktail party, a buffet, or a sit-down dinner, we’ll take care of the food, decorations, and music.
Host your next event with Hornblower Cruises. With 35+ years in the event planning industry and over 50,000 corporate events under our belt, we know a thing or two about how to create an unforgettable, epic experience. Check us out in San Francisco, Berkeley, Sacramento, Marina del Rey, Newport Beach, Long Beach, San Diego and New York!