It may be tempting to cut your holiday office party budget this year but such events are not only employee morale boosters but also a great way to say thank you to your clients for their business.
“Holiday parties can boost company morale, honor employees who have contributed to the organization’s success and, perhaps, made sacrifices working long and extended hours, which places them away from their families, etc.,” says event planner Greg Jenkins of Bravo Productions.
And you don’t have to spend a lot. There are lots of ways to reduce holiday party costs.
One suggestion it to make the event do double duty. “Focus the event to tie them in with key business objectives such as awards, customer and client appreciation, team building, year-end thank yous or a forecast with emphasis on communicating an optimistic future,” says Jenkins. “While providing a nice occasion for your attendees, it also becomes something that is a little more measurable and tangible.”
Analyze what you really want to spend the money on. “Review the big picture and put your dollars into what is really important in building value into your event and for your attendees,” says Jenkins. “An example is spending money on expensive linens or theatrical facades on the exterior of an event ballroom. While both elements add to a function, the costs add to your budget and may not have a long lasting impact on your guests.”
Think about items to cuts, such as canning the carving stations of prime rib and jumbo shrimp as appetizers, notes Jenkins. Opt instead for inexpensive fare such as chicken, fish and mini appetizers.
Consider, instead of serving dessert as a part of dinner service, setting up a dessert station as a post-event function. “A dessert station can have less quantity for only those with a sweet tooth. You’re basically not paying for dessert for those that won’t eat it,” notes Jenkins.
When it comes to goodie bags, select more inexpensive items to give as gifts to speakers. “More than likely, these individuals already have a plethora of ink pens, plaques, glassware, etc. A more inexpensive substitute might be a donation to the speaker's favorite charity -- or just a Certificate of Appreciation signed by senior management,” offers Jenkins.
The time or day can also affect price. A lunch or brunch will turn into a less costly affair than a dinner party. Turn your evening dinner function into a luncheon or brunch.
Turn to someone for help. “Use a planner to consult, organize and provide onsite management. The speed in which they can get tasks accomplished can often save money in the long run. Having a committee of employees put together a meeting or event is often not a sufficient use of personnel, resources and time management,” says Jenkins.
But bottom line, make sure to send the right holiday message to your guests. “It only takes five minutes at a Christmas party to ruin your image and have to start from scratch,” warns Gerald Glascock, director of The Southern Institute of Etiquette and Protocol. “It's perfectly fine to invite clients to the holiday function; however, if you attempt to make this function about boosting sales, it sends the wrong message around the holidays. Your company might appear to be about 'greed,' rather than a partner to the client. It also takes the focus off 'thanking' your employees,” notes Jenkins.
Tips for employees on how shine at office parties
• Don't be shy. ”Introduce yourself to the big boss and give a brief description of who you are and what you do. Take business cards and be sure to follow up with those that you have spoken with,” says veteran event planner Tammye McDuff, owner/operator of Your Wedding Guide.
• Easy on the spirits. “Don’t drink heavily,” advises McDuff. “Limit any alcoholic beverages to a max of two for the night. Remember that even one will take the sharpness out of you and give others a competitive edge. If you're going to network at the Christmas party, don't drink,” adds Glascock.
• Connect your clients. “Introduce clients to others that may be of assistance to them in their business,” says McDuff.
• Let yourself shine. "Make sure people remember you for your dynamic personality and not for bad etiquette or something crazy that you wore," notes Glascock.
• Mingle, mingle, mingle. “Get around to as many people as possible in order to say hello, chat and make your presence known. When it comes to promotions or special projects, often it is the ‘visible’ person who is remembered,” says Sherry Thomas, president, Palm Beach Etiquette.