How to Plan an Office Christmas Party

Many of us have been there...trying to keep our heads down while the boss decides that someone needs to plan the office Christmas party, only to have his or her gaze fall upon us and declare "you there, you were great at organising the coffee run last week, you must put your talents to the office Christmas party!" After an internal groan, you agree, and then the real challenge begins—where do you even start? Follow the steps below and you should have the whole thing sewn up in a breeze!


  1. Image titled Plan an Office Christmas Party Step 1
    Decide where you want to hold the party. You will hold it either in your offices or at an external venue. Your decision will mainly be dependent on your budget and the number of people attending (don't ask how many people are coming yet, as that could get complicated. Instead, assume everyone is coming and use that number as your starting point, though this is a good time to decide whether dates are invited). Your main external options are listed below and a quick google should help you find events and venues in your area:
    • Hiring a space and planning all the catering/entertainment/bar organization yourself. For bigger events, this could be something grand, like a fancy hotel or an iconic building that has been renovated for such events. For smaller events, you could look to pub function rooms and village halls.
    • Hiring a space and a management company to create an event for you.
    • Signing up to an exclusive event - where the venue have decided on the theme/catering choices and you can hire the whole space for your party.
    • Joining one of the many shared parties held around the country - this is similar to an exclusive event, with the exception that you will be sharing the space with other organisations.
    • Taking the team out for a delicious Christmas meal followed by drinks. It's not a party per se, but it can certainly leave everyone feeling in the festive spirit!
  2. Image titled Plan an Office Christmas Party Step 2
    Fix a date. You want to do this as early as possible. Even with a lot of notice it is really hard to pin down a small group of people to a fixed date, so imagine how hard it will be if you're doing it with only a couple of weeks to go or with a large group!
    • Your best bet is to pick a few dates that work for you and the venue that you have chosen and then ask people to vote on their preferred option(s).
    • Once you have your result, before you announce it to your team, make sure that you can book the venue. You don't want to announce the result only to find out that the venue is no longer free.
  3. Image titled Plan an Office Christmas Party Step 3
    Invite the guests. With the venue secured, it's time to announce it to the team. Either send a 'Save the Date' email, and follow up with formal invitations a month or so before the party, when you have all the details. Or, if you've got all the information you need, there is no time like the present to get those invites out!
    • Don't forget to let people know if their partners are invited or not - it will save you a lot of questions later on!
  4. Image titled Plan an Office Christmas Party Step 4
    Pick the theme. If you are joining a shared party then you can skip this step because it will have been decided on for you, the same goes exclusive parties (but don't worry, these events can still be spectacular). Think themes like "under the sea" or "candy store." If you are picking the theme yourself (or together with an event planner) then it's time to have a little fun! Your imagination is the limit but here are some ideas to get the juices flowing:
    • Winter Wonderland
    • Fire & Ice
    • Red & White
    • Colour me Bright
    • Masquerade Ball
    • Any of the decades
    • Movie night
    Once you've picked your theme, write a list of all the decorations and props that you will need and get ready for a mammoth shopping trip!
  5. Image titled Plan an Office Christmas Party Step 5
    Pick the food options. 2-3 months before the event, you should start thinking about catering. Now, if you are attending a shared party or exclusive party, then you won't have much to do at all (except maybe circulate menu options and collate responses). If, on the other hand, you are planning the event yourself, then you have a bit of a task ahead of you!
    • The first thing you should do is find out if there are any special requirements for food; are there vegetarians, vegans, allergy sufferers etc. in attendance? If so, make sure that you have options for them too!
    • If you decide to hire caterers, then your job will be a little easier. They can present menu choice to you, and you just have to pick what you want to go with.
    • If you're doing it all yourself, then you need to start writing lists of the food you want to serve (buffet-style will be the easiest option), drawing up shopping lists of what you'll need and seeing if you can rope in some helpers to prepare it all!
    • Once you have your list, it is probably easiest to order online and have it delivered directly to your venue. Supermarkets are great for this, and often have offers on, to help you save pennies!
  6. Image titled Plan an Office Christmas Party Step 6
    Decide on the beverages. Again, if you're attending a shared or exclusive event, then this will most likely be included in your package. But if not, you need to start working out how much you need and where you're going to get it from!
    • A general rule of thumb is to allow 2 drinks per guest for the first hour of the party, and then one drink per hour after that.
    • If you're providing table wine, then it is generally considered correct to allow 2 glasses (half a bottle) per person.
    • Don't worry about catering for all tastes; it's ok to pick just a few different alcoholic drinks - people are generally less fussy about what they drink when it is free and it will save you a lot of headache!
    • Don't forget soft drinks and water - not only will there be people who don't want to or can't drink alcohol, but you also need to make sure that the guests who are drinking alcohol are doing so safely - and that means having access to non-alcoholic drinks too.
  7. Image titled Plan an Office Christmas Party Step 7
    Plan the entertainment for the evening. It may be that the venue is putting it on for you, but if not then you will need to arrange it yourself. At the least you want to make sure that you have music for people to dance to (and this is sufficient entertainment for most people), but if you have time and spare change in the budget, then you could add entertainment such as:
    • Casino tables
    • Bucking broncos
    • Magicians
    • Acrobats
    • Group games like giant Jenga & giant Twister
    • Photobooth (with fun props!)


  • Think about transport for your guests - it might be that you can put on coaches to get them there and home again, but if not, make sure that you provide them with taxi numbers, maps or maybe even set up carpool options, so that no-one is stranded at the end of the night!

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