Planning an Office Party Everyone Will Look Forward To
There’s no better way to show your team they’re appreciated than with a good knees-up. But it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re the one tasked with responsibility for organising the party. So here’s a few pointers from Galaxy Fireworks who organised a recent team night out in Nottingham.
- Create a Wish List
When it comes to successfully mixing business with pleasure, it’s all in the planning. So start early, particularly if you’re wanting a Christmas party. Christmas is a busy time for us, so we opted for January, but even though we avoided the mad Christmas rush for party venues, we still had to start our planning back in October.
If you’re stuck for ideas, list everything your ideal venue would provide. Do you, for example, want a venue that can provide live music and entertainment after the meal, or are you happy to travel between different venues to get everything you want? It needs to work within your budget obviously, but does it also need to be close enough to a town centre to ensure guests can get home easily at the end of the night? Is the dancing and entertainment the priority, or the food and the setting?
Think about your audience. This is really important. Would your guests appreciate a lavish affair, or would low-key work better? Do they want dressy, or relaxed? Masquerade ball or BBQ followed by ball games?
Another thing to consider is whether you want a shared party, or an exclusive venue hired for private use. Shared parties allow smaller groups to experience celebrations on a grander scale, whereas private parties allow you to opt for something more intimate and tailor-made, although there are of course variations on both. We opted for a restaurant with a reputation for excellent food that also offered live music on site. It turned out to be the perfect choice.
The Riverbank, Nottingham. Venue for our annual Galaxy Fireworks party, held in January.
- Food and Drink
Whereas in the past there might have been an assumption that mass-produced = poor quality, this is no longer the case. There are plenty of restaurants and catering companies who successfully manage to combine great food with large scale, so don’t settle for a menu that is poor on choice and poor on quality. A well-designed, comprehensive menu, means that it meets everybody’s requirements, means that no-one goes hungry. Which leads us on to our next point…
Everyone knows that drinking on an empty stomach makes for a sore head in the morning (and quite possibly a few diplomatic incidents on the way too). So ensuring everyone gets food they can’t wait to tuck into, means there’s no need to substitute food for drink! Providing a late-night snack or tea and coffee-making facilities after the meal are also welcome thoughtful touches that can help negate the effects of too much alcohol.
This is one area where it’s almost certainly impossible to please everybody. Which is perhaps why most venues choose to stick to chart hits and tried-and-tested dance-floor fillers. But you don’t always need to play it safe. Live music brings a party to life, and guests will appreciate music based around a theme, even if it isn’t what they’d ordinarily listen to at home, so things like Samba nights or Funky Disco themes work well. The DJ who played the night we visited The Riverbank got the mix just right, filling the dance-floor without needing to resort to the Macarena or the YMCA.
The Galaxy Girls hit the dancefloor.
- It’s The Little Touches That Make The Difference
It’s often the small things that set really memorable events apart from run-of-the-mill ones.
Place cards printed with diners’ names and meal choices cost very little to produce but add a real sense of occasion and formality to a meal. (Not to mention helping those who forgot what they asked for when the meal choices went in).
Setting a theme can also help to bring a sense of fun to the occasion. Providing party bags at the table complete with comedy wigs, glasses and masks, or a ‘dressing up box’ for people to raid, are real energy level-raisers, and can help break the ice at the start of the night.
Send invites rather than a memo. If you’re planning activities to keep your guests entertained, concentrate on things that everyone can have participate in. Pub quizzes and photo-face competitions make great conversation starters and help to ease any initial awkwardness before the food and drink starts flowing. A ‘Worst Christmas Jumper’ competition can help lighten the tone, as can arranging for Secret Santa presents to be exchanged at the party. Activities like these unite social butterflies and shrinking violets alike and make sure no-one feels left out.
Ultimately, you want people to enjoy themselves, so don’t go for options which you know will push them too far out of their comfort zone, but that doesn’t mean always playing it safe either. The aim is to make those attending feel like guests, rather than employees. Succeed with that and you’ve got yourself a celebration everyone will look forward to in the run-up to the big night, and remember afterwards for all the right reasons.