Hi! Nicole here, sharing some tips to help planning your company holiday party go as smoothly as possible. The holidays are just around the corner, which means it's time to celebrate! This time of year draws crowds to restaurants and retail spaces for end-of-year gatherings and holiday parties. Planning your company holiday party may seem like a daunting task, but with a little creativity and a few insider tips, you can host a special evening that all of your guests are sure to enjoy. Here are a few of my favorite ideas to help you plan a successful company holiday party.

  1. Book early. A lot of companies book spaces for their holiday parties as early as July! The next big push is in October. If you haven’t found a space yet, you’ll want to do this as soon as possible.

  2. Look for a versatile space. Depending on what kind of party you’re looking to throw, consider finding a location with two distinct areas: one for mingling or a cocktail hour, and another area for a seated dinner, depending on the size of your party. For a more interactive vibe, consider a family-style dinner. It gets people talking and can be a great way for colleagues to come together.

  3. Think outside the box. As you search for the right venue, a common mistake is to limit your focus to each restaurant’s dining areas. But restaurants often have much more functional space than you’d think. For instance, several places in LA have parking lots that can be used for events. A lot of restaurants that do not have a private dining room are still good choices to seek out as a buyout or partial buyout for a mid-sized party or larger team.

  4. Pick a a convenient location. For the ease of your guests, pick a spot that is close to the office. If your company doesn’t have an office, try to pick a place that is as centrally located as possible.

  5. Arrange for Uber credits. This ensures that all employees will have safe rides to and from the company holiday party. Or if it’s within your event budget, pre-paying the valet is always a welcome gesture.

  6. Ask about AV capabilities. If your event will include speeches or video presentations, ask the restaurant in advance what their AV capabilities are. Many places are fully equipped with speakers and cords, while others will work with you to accommodate your AV setup.

  7. Keep warm. Winter nights in LA can get chilly, especially by the beach. Most outdoor patio spaces have built-in heaters, retractable roofs, or winter tents. Be sure to ask what your options are to ensure that your guests will be comfortable throughout the evening.

  8. Personalize the event. Check with the venue to see if they provide their own fresh flowers, candles, or custom menus. Many restaurants offer these touches for an additional fee. Printing custom menus adds a fun element to your company party and can also be used to place seating at a table. You can also print your own on to truly customize your event. The cost is minimal and worth looking into, even if you do not have an in-house graphics person at your company.

  9. Have your holiday party in January. Sometimes it's hard to get everything together at this time of year. December is jam-packed with holiday parties – personal and professional – so it can be worth considering January for your company holiday party. Consider it a sort of "fresh start" party for the new year and something to look forward to to get over the holiday blues.

Remember that November and December are a very busy time of year for everyone, but especially for restaurants and retail. Plan ahead to minimize stress on the day of, and then you can actually enjoy the party with your guests!

Photo by Annie McElwain

Photo by Marisa Vitale