10 Tips for a Holiday Party Everybody Will Love That You Can Afford

No matter how small the company, the holidays are a time to celebrate, with maybe a little team building and brand building mixed in.

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By Matt Straz


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The holidays are near, and it's time to start planning. Though holiday parties are typically seen as something only large corporations do, entrepreneurs and small businesses shouldn't let this time go to waste.

Entrepreneurs can host a holiday party to fortify their company culture, boost employee morale and increase brand awareness in the community.

Here are some tips for hosting a rockin' holiday party:

1. Use tech tools to plan

Much of hosting a successful party lies in the planning strategy. Use tools like a phone or mobile device to keep checklists of everything that needs to be done.

To get the team involved in planning, use a project management software or mobile app to create, assign, and comment on tasks.

Last, but not least, use social media to advertise the event and invite guests. Make announcements in professional groups on LinkedIn and Facebook.

Related: The Best (And Only) Tips You Need for the Office Holiday Party

2. Theme your party

Choose a unique theme to entice invitees to attend. Brand the party with a theme from a well-known movie or a recent pop-culture phenomenon. Examples of unique themes are The Nightmare Before Christmas, Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory, or A Christmas Story.

Once a theme is chosen, be sure to go all out with it. Don't do anything halfway.

3. Cater outside the box

Most holiday parties provide the same food every year -- cookies, cakes, pigs in a blanket, chips, etc. Take a diversion from typical holiday party fare and provide exotic food from different parts of the world. Bring in Thai chicken satay skewers or Japanese gyoza dumplings to get everyone's attention.

This is a great way for a company to show its appreciation for diversity to other industry professionals, potential candidates or potential clients who may attend.

4. Give back to the community

As an alternative to the typical holiday party, use the party budget to give back. Get the whole team involved in a fundraising project. Sponsor a needy family, host a performance at a retirement community or volunteer at an animal shelter.

Opportunities for businesses to get involved in the community are virtually endless, and it reflects well on the company culture.

5. Take the party out of the office

Businesses with small teams can take advantage of their mobility by traveling to a retreat or conference in place of hosting a traditional office party.

For example, small startup teams can go snowboarding in Colorado. Tech companies can let employees geek out a tech convention, such as the 2014 Wearable Tech Conference.

Related: 3 Apps to Help You Plan a Super-Fun Office Holiday Party

6. Host a holiday open house

Hosting an open house with refreshments is a great way to attract potential clients and candidates to help grow business. Set up the office to showcase projects the office has worked on throughout the year. Make it look like a museum gala.

7. Run holiday promotions for both customers and employees

Retail stores aren't the only businesses that can run holiday promotions. Small businesses can offer discounted services as part of a "Black Friday" or "Cyber Monday" sale. Host a prize drawing, such as a "Twelve Days of Prizes" where clients can enter to win a free small product or service that might inspire them to purchase more.

Don't forget employees! Within the office, host a drawing employees can enter to win gift cards and other goods to help make their own holidays merry and bright.

8. Distribute personalized gifts

Order gadgets for employees like pens, business card holders and tablet cases engraved with personalized messages or names. This is a great way to individually show employees they are appreciated.

9. Book entertainment

Keep the party alive by hiring a professional to entertain guests. Bring in a comedian Santa, or a magician. Of course, live music is usually the safe route, but instead of the typical easy listening artist, change things up by booking a beat boxer or jazz band.

10. Turn the office into the dance floor or stage

What better way for employees to show their out-of-office talents than to give them a microphone and a stage? Host a karaoke party or turn the office into a dance floor so employees can blow off some steam.

Related: How to Behave at Your Office Holiday Party

Matt Straz

Founder and CEO of Namely

Matt Straz is the founder and CEO of Namely, the HR and payroll platform for the world's most exciting companies.

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