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12 Emotional Stages of Organizing An Office Holiday Party

Congratulations! You’ve decided to organize an office holiday party. This is fantastic news. Your colleagues will thank you, your boss will thank you, you will thank you. After all, the annual office holiday party isn’t any small thing. Halloween may be the Golden Globes of the office party world, but the winter holiday party is the Oscars. Winter holiday parties have the ability to pull from such an expansive cannon: Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, gingerbread spice lattes, elaborately wrapped gifts, snow, claymation movies and hot cocoa. Plus, you get to dress up.


At Bizzabo, we recently hosted our own holiday party not long ago. I teamed up with Rachel Ruggieri (Customer Success Director/Office Party Planner Extraordinaire) to get the low-down on the 12 emotions of organizing an office holiday party.

1. Budget

The first part of getting your party off the ground is figuring out how much money is at your disposal. Your boss may give you a fixed amount of money to spend or you may be able to channel your inner Shark Tank and bargain for the budget of your dreams. Once you figure out how much money you have to support your party, you can move onto Stage 2.

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2. Dates and Times

This party’s tricky. Will the event take place on a weekday or the weekend? You also have to navigate the minefield of birthdays, weddings, and of course, winter holidays. If the party is too close to your company’s winter vacation schedule, then you’ll lose a lot of your would-be-attendees to travel. On the flip side, there is such a thing as an office party that is too early.

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3. Guest Counts

Now it’s time to get a more accurate estimate of how many people will be attending. You will informally poll the office and inquire about significant others. Only after you have the next step of the puzzle figured out will you be able to send out RSVPs. (We used our own event registration software to get an early headcount).

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4. Locations

Depending on the size of your team, someone’s home, a bar, a restaurant or even the office itself may be the perfect venue for your party. In most cases, the North Pole is out of the question, but if you wanted to choose the Bahamas, I don’t think many people would complain...provided their expenses were covered thanks to very skillful channeling of your inner Shark Tank (see Stage 1).

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5. Food and Drinks

If your party’s in a venue other than a restaurant, you’ll probably arrange for some sort of catering and bartending. You’ll also want to think of the menu (making sure not to forget your vegetarian, gluten-free, and otherwise diet-restricted colleagues). Burgers, BBQ, spring rolls, sushi, mini burgers, cookies, cake, flan? There’s so much talk of planning food, but not actually eating food. Time to move on to the next stage.

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6. Make It Fun!

A holiday party just isn’t a holiday party without a little pizazz. How can you take this holiday party above and beyond the last one? There’s a chance that some sort of secret Santa scheme will enter the picture. Will there be music? What sort of activities will there be? Karaoke? Games? Maybe just copious amounts of schmoozing? Oooo! Maybe you can get your boss to dress up like Santa and drop off gifts? Is that too much?

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7. Logistics

Wow. You just came up with so many ideas. Now it’s time to put them all together. You’ll itemize them and think about how you can actually make them come into fruition. You’ll also need to think of the time-table: When will the caterer arrive, when will people need to leave. What will the run-of-show look like? What sort of props are needed?

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8. Delegation

Who’s in charge of what? Certainly you’re not taking on the entirety of the party by yourself? Unless you are. In which case we give you mad kudos.

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9. Day-of Prep

Otherwise known as the scramble. If this is a work-day, someone will most likely need to leave early to make sure everything’s in tip-top shape. You’ll make sure all of the decorations are in place, that the caterer/restaurant is ready to help your party take off to the stars. If there’s a secret Santa, you’ll want to remind everyone that if they haven’t gotten a gift, then they really really should before the party kicks off.

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10. Everything Goes Exactly As It’s Planned

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11. Post-Event Chores

Everyone’s favorite part! You get to make sure that everyone gets a stocking stuffer and a secret Santa gift and that every bit of wrapping paper gets stuffed into a garbage bag.

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12. You Will Return to a Happier, Cheer-filled Office

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Have an event planner in your life? If so, you can do no better than getting them one of the gifts featured in our Event Planner Holiday Gift Guide. Well, maybe you could do one better by giving them the gift of knowledge! Subscribe them to our blog for the latest events industry news, tips, and fun by clicking the button below.

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