Top 7 holiday party planning issues

If you're responsible for your group's winter holiday event - or are just interested in making this year's better than past years' - it's time to get started, if you haven't already.

Here are seven things to put high on the list:

  1. Group size/availability. How large is your group? Do you have multiple shifts? How many will be able to make it? Are spouses or other guests welcome?  The size of your organization is not always the number to plan for. Find this number out early.
  2. Venue. Where will you hold it? What space can accommodate the size of your group and the activities you plan to conduct? Does it have appropriate lighting, acoustics/amplification, etc.? Can you decorate in advance to suit the occasion and to your group's tastes?
  3. Date, time and length. Will it be during traditional holiday breaks or outside of those dates (e.g. to save money)? During work hours or after hours? Weekend or school night? If your group has regular weekly or monthly meetings, will it replace or supplement your regular meetings?
  4. Food. Feeding your guests is key - and is often the most expensive part of any event. How much food will you have? Will it be a full meal, or just snacks? Will alcohol be allowed - and who will pay for it? Any dietary restrictions or sensitivities to consider?
  5. Cost. What's your budget? How much can you spend per person, or overall? Note that meals, venues, and entertainment (probably in that order) will absorb most of your group's budget. Also, will participants be expected to contribute out of pocket for some or all of the festivities?
  6. Who will help? Often the hardest part of any event is finding people to pitch in and take on the tasks of securing food, venues, decorations, transportation, and fun activities. You may consider hiring out some or all of those items. While the "DIY" approach can save money, it can also lead to disappointment if a volunteer doesn't come through.
  7. Make it Memorable. What's your program? Is it just dinner, with the usual people clustered around isolated tables, or will there be something to get people mingling and interacting? Will there be speakers, awards, games, etc? Who will take pictures and how will staff get access to them?

Take care of these seven things, and you're well on your way to an event people will talk about (favorably) all year.





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