How to throw a Christmas party your team will want to attend
It’s coming up to that time of year again – Christmas party planning time. Christmas parties and other company-wide events might be the bane of the finance or managing director’s life, but they’re a pretty essential part of office and shop-floor culture. At the end of the day putting on events for your staff is about making them feel valued, building relationships between departments and boosting morale. A good office party can forge mutual respect and change dynamics between teams, even make employees look at senior teams in a different light. But how do you actually get people there in the first place, and how do you keep them engaged and chomping at the bit to sign up for the next one? Here are some things to consider when putting on a successful company event.
Start with the right people
This is one thing that we can’t stress enough – without the right people behind it, your event will never take off in the way that you want it to. If getting the maximum amount of attendees there and engaged is your goal, then you need people on your organising team that can bring some energy to the process and get people excited. Don’t just put it all on one person and assume it’ll get sorted. First of all, do they want to organise it? If the person or people organising isn’t enthusiastic and passionate about it, this will have an effect on the event itself and the attendance you get. Consider sending out a company-wide email inviting people to join the planning committee, or get talking to people in the office, the canteen or in the smoking hut to find out who’d like to be involved. This way you’ll find outspoken people who can bring the perspectives and needs of different teams to the fore.
Don’t just put it all on one person
Related to the previous point, even in smaller businesses, it’s generally a bad idea to put the onus of organising on one person. They’ll either feel put upon or they’ll run away with it and drive their own agenda – they want to do a big night out uptown, so that’s what you’ll get, regardless. One person cannot represent the whole business. It’s important to build a team of committed people who can help you get into the opinions of different teams and accommodate more people. And after all – more resources means more will get done quicker.
Answer the people
After you’ve formed your crack team of passionate party planners, it’s never a bad idea to get an initial idea of the kind of thing your staff would like to attend. Put together a poll or survey, a suggestion box, or a meeting to generate ideas. This means that even if you don’t run with someone’s idea, they recognise that there’s been a process, and at least their idea was considered, and they’ll still feel like they had some input. Getting everyone involved from the beginning will ensure you get buy-in from them – and if they don’t get involved, you’ve given them the chance.
Bring in reinforcements
Especially if you’re doing a more “DIY” event, it can be tempting to try and arrange everything yourself. But don’t forget, there are businesses that do this kind of thing all the time, and a helping hand from them to could mean the difference between an OK event and something everyone will be talking about for years to come. Event planning businesses can advise you on things that have worked well for other businesses like yours, and bring ideas to the table you might not have even considered. A bit of investment in this area can add a bit of something extra to your event and create an experience to remember.
While it’s tempting, particularly at times like Christmas, to splash out on a three-course meal and unlimited bar, remember that this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Shocker – not everyone just wants to go out and get drunk. Memorable experiences often trump expensive ones, so it’s worth putting some thought into what this means. What can you do that’s different, and brings something for everyone? This is where gaging public opinion and bringing in external help is key – they can help you uncover ideas you might not have considered before, and be that little spark of inspiration that helps to create something truly memorable and experiential.
A positive side effect of building a planning committee with people from different areas of the business will mean that these departments are more likely to feel involved and enthused by the event. But it’s important to remember everyone – not just the people you see every day. What about remote workers, delivery drivers, external sales people, field engineers? How will they be involved? Forgetting to involve people like this can mean some serious bad blood – remembering to include them can build key relationships between them and internal office workers. Offer to put them up in a hotel, or encourage them to match up with people who can maybe put them up for the evening. This is all about making people feel valued.
Don’t take it personally
Remember – there will also be those people who just won’t come. Don’t focus all your energy on the one person you’re convinced you can guilt trip, beg or bribe to attend. You want enthusiastic people who want to be there at your party. Christmas is a busy time – people have their own stuff going on, whether that’s other commitments, budgetary challenges, family stuff – remember that some people just won’t come, whether that’s because they don’t want to or they can’t. Focus on the people who are coming, not those who aren’t. You want to foster a positive atmosphere for the people that are there.
Organising a Christmas party – or any company-wide event for that matter – can be a complex social minefield to navigate. But considering some of the things we’ve mentioned and remembering that it’s about the people, not the event itself, is a great place to start. Whether it’s entirely internal or involves external resource, building the right planning and management team is a significant step on the road to a successful event. If you need help, we’d love to oblige. Drop us a line and we’ll help you create some meaningful memories.