While traditional planning methods can be tedious, with the help of workflow automation software and some seasonal-friendly tips, party planning stress will be a thing of holidays past.
- Set Up Your Planning Process: Before the chaos of the holiday begins, assess your planning process. By putting the upfront organizational practices in place via process mapping and workflow automation, you’ll save time and frustration in the long run. Lay out every step in your workflow and grant members of the planning committee access. While the workflow can handle the brunt of the administrative tasks—such as sending invitations, receiving RSVPs from employees and accepting volunteers for setup and clean-up—it can also send reminders to you and the planning committee to ensure non-digital tasks, like buying gifts, are completed on time.
- Save The Date: No need to work 18 months in advance like an excited bride but, at least a few months before your ideal date, utilize your pre-built workflow to send a survey to employees gauging their interest and availability for select dates. Typically, the most popular dates are the three Fridays and Saturdays leading up to December 23rd, after which most people travel and elect to spend time with family. Consider throwing in some mid-week dates, particularly if you’re leaning toward an on-site location (more on that later). By using a workflow to manage the survey, you won’t have to worry about individually tallying dates or chasing down people for their input. Let the workflow collect the information and save your energy for more hands-on aspects of planning.
- Budget Wisely: It’s important to throw a party your employees actually want to attend, which can sometimes translate into spending more money than originally planned. Align with top management and submit proposals for budget approval upfront using your workflow automation. With your approved budget, begin determining the importance of certain elements, such as location, food, drink, activities, and employee recognition. Remember, there are plenty of ways to make a party memorable and show appreciation that don’t require the swipe of a Visa.
- Choose The Location: Once you’ve settled on the most popular date and secured a budget, focus your attention on location. Are you thinking off-site or on-site? Fancy or casual? Events spaces and restaurants fill up very quickly this time of year, especially if you’re aiming for a Friday or Saturday evening. Consider both standard and unique venues, including hotel ballrooms, country clubs, rooftop bars, and even bowling alleys or theme parks, if your company culture aligns. If you elect for an on-site event, decide where in your building 1) comfortably fits everyone at once, and 2) offers a different environment for employees, versus standing near their desks. No one can fully relax with their computer so close by.
- Send Invitations: Rather than using a spreadsheet to manually record employee responses, use your workflow software to send an email invitation to everyone in the company. Like the initial date survey, you can design the workflow to send reminders to individuals who haven’t responded by a certain date. Within the email, you can also ask recipients to select their food and drink preference for the event, if needed for your venue and you’d like their input prior to ordering. The streamlined process eliminates potential human error—and saves planners from a holiday headache.
- Plan Activities: So, now that you have everyone together, what are you going to do with them? Based on the location of the party, you might have to plan activities, as opposed to a sit-down restaurant where the focus is mainly sedentary conversation. But even in that type of setting, it’s nice to add some element of holiday “gift-giving.” Regardless of where you host the party, consider playing a game like White Elephant, and having every employee bring a gift under a certain budget. (We recommend sticking under $15.) If you are in a large space, a photo booth is a nice touch—and gives all attendees a photo take away from the event. Other ideas, depending on the formality of the event, include cookie decorating, dancing and board games.
- Plan to Recognize Employees: One of the focal points of the party should be employee recognition. Before the event, ask managers to prepare brief speeches thanking their team and acknowledging their work throughout the year. Some companies may even elect to announce Employee of the Year at holiday parties. But whether you go to those lengths or not, show appreciation for all employees with individual affirmation—maybe in the form of small awards, like “Most Strategic Salesman.” If you don’t want to get too formal with it, consider having a bit of fun with tailored awards, like Most Likely to Bring in Donuts, or Most Valuable Party Planner. (Make sure to acknowledge all employees in this case. Sending them home feeling good about their work and the company is the goal.)
Any party planner knows that preparing—and executing—a memorable party is not a sleigh ride through a beautiful winter wonderland. However, with workflow automation as your assistant, there’s no reason this year’s celebration can’t be the most seamless and successful one yet.