magazine | Gatherings | Corporate + Team Events

5 Celeb Event Planners Share How to Plan the Perfect Company Holiday Party

Is office party planner in your job description this season? If you’re planning an end-of-the-year soiree for your co-workers, clients, or company, make it a bonus-worthy bash with these essential tips from top experts who want to help you celebrate the season at work.

Regardless of your office dynamic, a perfectly planned end-of-the-year party can kick start the next chapter on a high note. So celebrate responsibly, say thanks and don’t forget to have a fantastic, fun-filled time too.

Reporter: Harmony Walton

Start With the Spot

“Select a space centrally located to ensure your teammates don’t have to drive too far. Be mindful of how the space is decorated and ask the venue manager what comes with it. Spending some of the budget on small décor pieces is a good idea but a venue that is a blank canvas can be costly to decorate. And make sure it is equipped with kitchen equipment to execute your festive menu.” – Jami Pennings, Catering Sales Manager, Wolfgang Puck Catering, Los Angeles. Start your venue search →

Come Up With a Concept

"When deciding whether or not to theme your holiday party, it is critical to know your audience (in this case your staff). A high level of participation (about 50% at least) is needed to pull it off successfully. Costume type themes have the potential of being some of the most memorable parties ever and are frequently noted as strong contributors to company culture. We have been successful with Cosplay (Comic Con) themes and western themes. You have to have the mechanical bull set up, specifically the bull that snorts steam and has glowing red eyes. Axe throwing also seems to be a new trend but may not be advisable at some companies. Know your audience.” – Kris Reinhard, Owner, Bold Catering and Design. Get inspired with past corporate events →
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Dress to the Nines

“We love to engage our glam squad to style the bar and waitstaff in custom wardrobe, accessories, hair and makeup. This becomes an animation element to further evoke the thematic vibe. We do everything possible to make it not feel like it's a corporate holiday party but rather a social gathering – fun, relaxed, spirited, unexpected.” – Jeff Brown of BROWNHOT Events.

Set the Mood

“Whether planning a casual afterhours open house in a private home or a more elaborate event in a ballroom or unique space, set the mood through lighting. Hundreds of candles, thousands of string lights, or simply adjusting the settings in the space can create a mood of magic. Then you have the ability to build on the atmosphere with other creative décor elements and unique guest experiences and you’ve got the start of a great party.” – Mindy Weiss, Mindy Weiss Party Consultants.
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Make Food Fun

“When planning a holiday party, I love to have interactive food stations (instead of a traditional plated dinner or buffet) so your team members get a creative dining experience. Not only does this provide fun interactions for your guests, but it also gives a wider variety of menu items so that your guests can pick and choose their favorites (within their own preferences or any dietary restrictions).” – Tyler Speier, Tyler Speier Events.

Raise the Bar

“The cocktail menu should be equally as sophisticated, sexy and engaging as the food to make for a fabulous company holiday party… Incorporating some classic cocktails with a holiday twist is always a success, such as our Holiday Old Fashion – Bourbon, Cinnamon, Chocolate Bitters, Orange Oils.” – Jami Pennings, Catering Sales Manager, Wolfgang Puck Catering, Los Angeles.

Don’t Forget Dessert

“A very hot setup that Bold Catering uses is a double-sided, seven-foot high steel wall which is wheeled out by our pastry chef into the middle of the party. The wall includes petite desserts such as cookies and cream truffle cones in small round coronet holders, colorful mango passion tarts, chocolate dipped moon pies, mini shot glass turtle cheesecake trifles, brightly colored fig and goat cheese French macaroons and Irish car bomb tarts. The pastry chef then engages with the guests about the treats available or we substitute a character/actor when appropriate. People freak!” – Kris Reinhard, Owner, Bold Catering and Design
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Say Thanks

“When planning a corporate event, I love to have a thank you letter printed at each place setting so that each team member feels appreciated from the minute they arrive. It can state some of the highlights of the year and sincerely thank each team member for their hard work.” – Tyler Speier, Tyler Speier Events

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