Business parties are not only a way to celebrate a company’s successes and way to foster networking; a great corporate affair can also help boost a firm’s reputation with much-needed publicity. But with today’s economy, most companies have tightened their entertainment budgets. Despite this, you can still throw a great bash, says Dion Magee, event and wedding lifestyle expert of Magee Enterprises, LLC.
"When working with a small to medium size budget, it’s important to identify, upfront, the desired outcomes of the event. Knowing exactly what you are looking to accomplish is key to the success of the event. Desired outcomes are critical," says Magee. "Regardless of the budget, you should have reasonable and flexible suppliers such as caterers, florists, entertainment and rental professionals who can customize any budget increase or decrease without impacting the final event execution. By having flexible suppliers, you can easily address event needs and create an event plan in advance to help eliminate any frustration."
Location is everything, as they say. But when throwing a party, creativity is everything and even within the office, you can host a smashing event, notes Magee. "Great locations vary. If you are limited on budget, an inter-office location is ideal. Consider changing the atmosphere with rentals, linens and lighting options. If you must have an outside location, consider a restaurant or a venue that provides an inside/outside combination such as a patio, or outside lounge area. You will be surprised how willing local venues or restaurants (even some hotels) are to offer space to you within a desired budget," explains Magee. Atlanta based celebrity event planner Anthony Shorter agrees. "Locations will vary," he says. "I have planned many corporate events within the office space. You just need to create a great atmosphere. Location doesn't matter when you are creative. You can turn a warehouse into a beautiful location. They do it in movies all the time."
Food, of course, is very important and you should not cut corners when arranging your party menu. According to Shorter, there are three top items you should budget for. The first is a good caterer. No matter how small the budget, the food really makes a difference. The second is nice decorations. You always want people to feel like they are attending a special event, so decorations are very important. The last top item is a good specialty drink. People can't complain if they are too drunk to remember, so an event with a mix of drinks is important to ensure a good time," he advises. Do not forget entertainment. "For corporate/business affairs, make sure that the entertainment is interactive and engaging," suggests Shorter. "Karaoke is a great corporate/business team builder. Plus, employees love to see their boss act a fool."
Now, who to invite? Employees, clients, potential clients, press? "Your budget dictates the guest list. As key invitees, you should invite those who are instrumental in making the event a success (sponsors, department heads and/or your boss). Secondly, identify upfront (based on the purpose of the event) who would benefit from networking or meeting at this event. Are you looking to promote a brand/product or celebrate achievements? Invite those who would advance the purpose or would benefit from the event itself. If you are celebrating, be sure to invite those who should be recognized along with other key contributors," says Magee. But adds Shorter, "The general rule for corporate or business affairs is ‘employees only’. You don't want to invite spouses or outsiders because it’s generally to reward the employee for doing a great job. The reason spouses are not invited is so the employees can really enjoy themselves among peers without fear of spouses getting jealous about improper behavior at the event."
The key to a successful party is pre-planning. “You must be detail oriented, organized, and willing to communicate often with the use of task lists, project plans and follow ups," notes Magee. "It’s important to have a clear event plan upfront before securing the venue and event details. Of course, with the direction and counsel of a professional event planner, you’ll unlock a larger array of tools, references and resources to help reduce event failures, stress and anxiety."