Dear Liz ... help, I'm organising the office Christmas party

I have been asked to organise the office Christmas party and I don’t even know where to start! Do you have any advice for what activity works best for agency staff? And how much time should I dedicate to organising this as I already have a lot of projects I’m working as part of my core job role?

With a chill in the air, Christmas is fast approaching and the planning for the biggest agency event of the year starts now! I am not sure whether to congratulate or commiserate with you on your new appointment! This is one that will either be a spectacular success or a spectacular disaster. So tread carefully as everyone will have an opinion.

If I were you I would start with some data and research.

Where was the last party? What was the most successful party? What was the least successful party?

You then need to know your budget.

How are you allocating alcohol? Will there be a free bar with a cash limit or a time limit? Will you allocate wristbands or vouchers in exchange for drinks?

What food will you provide and what type taking into account allergies and preferences.

Where will the venue be and how will people get there? Will you arrange an agency bus to transport people?

Are you providing cabs?

Your budget will determine whether you are paying for a party organiser or booking yourselves.

I would set up a committee to prepare, plan and allocate all of the tasks to. You will need a big spreadsheet or project plan to make sure that everything is on track. There is no room for error with this one!

I would also suggest that you arrange some focus groups with a cross section of people to identify what their idea of a great party is, what ideas they might have and what their friends might have done previously. Collate all this and then create your plan and I suggest that the leadership sign off on both the activities, venue and budget. We don’t want any surprises!

You need to move swiftly with the venue as these get booked up very early in central London, with some folk booking a year in advance.

Fancy dress is not always everyone’s cup of tea although you could consider Cowboys and Indians, winter wonderland, casino, ski chalet and other themed parties. Close up magicians, fortune tellers, roving numerologist, photo booths and party bags with hangover cures always seem to be popular, along with showcasing in house DJ skills and other talents!

Share the load and spread the love. In the new year conduct a post project review and set up a helpful checklist for the next years’ party team.

Good luck to everyone planning their Christmas party!

If you have an HR-related issue that you need answering by our expert Liz Nottingham, Agency HR Director, FIPA, please contact us at [email protected]. Any questions published will appear anonymously.

Last updated 21 January 2022