Corporate holiday party planning: How our small business saved money while reducing employee stress

In a recent blog post, I talked about how poorly planned holiday gifting became an infamous learning experience for a small business. Fortunately (no, that’s a typo), it was not the only mistake made that year. This next mistake, however, spawned a new and much loved tradition for the company.

So what happened exactly? The year before I arrived at this organization was a bit of a mess in terms of holiday planning. And a major item that was overlooked happened to be planning the employee and client holiday parties. No one really knew who was responsible for planning the parties and who would book them. Already overwhelmed with end-of-year projects, no one brought it up in company meetings because they were afraid that they would then be volun-told to take the lead. When the controller finally came forward with the budget for the two events (this was in December), the president then realized she had overlooked them entirely.

It was all hands on deck as panicked employees tried and failed multiple times to book a venue and services within the budget and a two-week time frame. Salespeople and other key employees were fearful that the holiday parties would overlap with previously booked vacations or their family commitments. Nothing seemed to be working out and performance in other areas rapidly plummeted as a result of the pressure and failed attempts to book venues, entertainment and catering. This is when the president came up with a brilliant idea: forget the holiday party.

Instead, she decided that the company would bring in the New Year with a bang. January bookings were made at top venues for a lot less than what it would have cost in December. A wider talent pool opened up for entertainment and catering companies were able to accommodate us for a lot less.

Aside from the cost savings, employees were thrilled. They did not have to worry about the corporate party taking precedence over a friend or family member’s gathering, or stress about whether or not their spouse’s corporate party would be booked on the same evening.  A January party also served to start the year with on a celebratory and collaborative note.

The client party had a record turnout of attendees and overwhelmingly positive feedback. The timing of the event was much appreciated and the fact that the party was not a “Christmas” party masquerading as a non-denominational holiday party served to make many of our diverse range of clients and prospects feel much more comfortable and celebratory.

Of course it goes without saying that this was the first of many New Year parties held in this organization.

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