The Corporate Holiday Party: Pulling It Off in Six Weeks

The holidays last year looked a whole lot different than it usually looks. The frequent family gatherings were non-existent (or virtual). The mall Santas weren’t taking kids’ Christmas wish lists by the thousands. School recitals, neighborhood caroling, midnight masses, the local production of A Christmas Carol? Nope, nope, nope, nope. And the company Christmas party? Forget about it.

So, needless to say, the 2021 Holiday season will involve a bit of making up for lost time, Roaring-20s style. Employees are vaxxed, overtaxed, and ready to party it up to the max! In normal times it would be madness to try to pull together a corporate holiday party in six weeks. These aren’t normal times though and we’ve all embraced the COVID madness a bit more these past couple of years, so let’s do this! Here is your six-step guide to pulling off a corporate holiday party for the books in less than six weeks. Okay, okay, I hear ya, it’s hard to pull off even a decent toddler birthday party in less than six weeks, but we can do this. Call it a Christmas miracle!

Step One: Establish Party Central

A venue is in order. Period, full stop. Otherwise, you’re just a bunch of dressed-up employees standing in the street, waiting to get mugged. There is nothing Christmas Miracle-like about that.

Again, in normal times, getting a decent holiday party venue in November would be out of the question. But… you know the drill, not normal times, embracing madness, yadda, yadda… so there is still available venue space out there. Contrary to what you might think in this COVID era, venues are filling up fast. Our go-to venues and vendors are getting multiple calls daily with bookings. Time is of the essence here and you need to act quickly if you want to get it done!

While hotels and conference center spaces are always a solid option, this could be the year to explore venue space that’s a little bit more off the beaten path. Decibel has gotten creative with our event venue spaces in the past, having held events at the National Mall, Portrait Gallery, Dock 5, the Library of Congress and on various other spaces and rooftops in and around DC.

Whether you go the traditional hotel/conference center route or opt for something a little more untraditional, act fast. You’re not the only company with lost party time to make up for.

Step Two: To Theme or Not To Theme?

Some would say that a holiday event is in and of itself is a theme. And some wouldn’t be wrong. But then there are others who feel like, ‘sure, yeah, I guess the holidays can be a theme, but what kind of holiday are we talking about exactly? Winter Wonderland, Santa’s Workshop, Christmas Masquerade, Hanukkah, (we just passed Diwali)… WHAT THE HELL KIND OF PARTY ARE WE TALKING ABOUT HERE???

So, anyhoo, decide your theme and proceed accordingly.

Step Three: Start Spreading the News

What’s a party without people? Sad, it’s sad, that’s what it is. Sad squared. So, once you have your date and location nailed down, let’s move right along to marketing the heck out of this bad boy!

How so, you ask? Here are a few strategies:

  • For those VIPs on your list, a hard copy invite is a nice touch
  • An email campaign, in which you highlight different elements of the evening with each separate blast
  • Using whatever internal communications tools you have at your disposal, whether that’s an employee newsletter, an intranet page or employee-focused social media accounts
  • Good old word of mouth
  • Posters in high traffic areas

Step Four: Have Your People Call Beyonce’s People

Entertainment is definitely in order for a making-up-for-last-season-because-of-the-stupid-pandemic-style shindig. And no, your cousin’s grunge-jazz infusion band cannot play, just get that silly idea right out of your head.

So, who can play? Well, budget is obviously a major determining factor here. Whether there is a theme to align to will also come into play. As well your overall vision for the party as well as your audience – are you going for high-end and classy or get down and party style shenanigans?

Fleur Seule is one of our favorites for giving that glamorous, big band, 1940s feel, and works with most corporate budgets. For those who have a bigger budget to play with, John Legend, Michael Buble, someone of that caliber could be a fit. We’ve also had a really fantastic response when we’ve brought in opera performers.

Comedians, dueling pianos, performance artists, even celebrity appearances can be considered. Again, budget is a big factor with this latter option.

Step Five: The Little Touches

By now, you have a pretty fine little soiree pulled together, my friend. But don’t lose steam quite yet. It’s amazing how much the little touches matter when it comes to gala planning. Mind you, if you go against my direct order and book your cousin’s grunge-jazz infusion band, no amount of little touches will scrub that memory from your guests’ heads. But assuming you don’t, then having some thoughtful little touches will just be the icing on the (non-fruitcake) Christmas cake.

These little touches could include:

  • Finding creative ways to facilitate guest interaction – we’re all a little unpracticed at the small talk and social niceties after almost two years of Zoom meetings and being home all the live-long day, so if you can find a way to help people to loosen up a bit (in addition to alcohol, of course), it will make for a better experience all around
  • Décor – theme or no theme, décor matters and helps to impart that wow factor that just gets people in the mood to party
  • Prizes and takeaways – goodie bags that guests take home at the end of the night, or prize opportunities throughout the evening, both are people-pleasers

And, let’s be honest, did the party even ever happen if there wasn’t a selfie station onsite?

Step Six: Be COVID-Safe and Just General-Safe Too

With all the guest celebrity appearance booking and décor selection fun out of the way, it’s time to turn your attention to the less fun task of health protocol and risk management planning. Be open and upfront about what you require and how the event will be hosted from a COVID perspective (whether vaccine cards are required, whether masks are necessary). Have the proper processes in place to ensure compliance and plan for how to escalate instances of non-compliance. Letting guests know of the expectations in advance should help to avoid any issues at the door. And, of course, mitigation planning for all the usual legal and logistical scenarios, including:

  • What is the COVID medical plan and who is the onsite team?
  • What type of insurance is required?
  • Are alternate travel arrangements available for guests who are too impaired to drive?
  • Are minors permitted at the event?
  • What is the evacuation plan in case of an emergency?
  • What crowd control and security measures are required?

There you have it! Your six-step guide to pulling off a spectacular holiday party in six weeks. Or, if six steps are four steps too many, we also present your two-step guide to pulling off a spectacular holiday event.

Step One: Engage Decibel Event Management to Plan Your Event

Step Two: Show Up and Have a Blast, Receive Major Kudos (Maybe a Promotion, Maybe a Raise, Maybe a Puppy, Who Knows?) for Booking Decibel Event Management

Either way, enjoy! But contact us if you really want to enjoy it, stress-free.