10 COMMON MISTAKES IN COMPANY PARTY PLANNING
You may have the responsibility of planning your company party in addition
to your regular job duties...it can be a real "bear of a job".
You have to face the pressure of being responsible for the party's success
and it's not as easy as having 8 people over for dinner at your house...and
that can be a nerve jangler. We've produced hundreds of fun company parties
- of all types. Of course, we'd like to offer our event planning services
to you, but in the meantime, here are some minefields to avoid. ... Remember
"party" is not a 4 letter word......and planning it shouldn't
feel like facing an overdue term paper.
1. LARGE PARTIES -PARTY DATE PROBLEMS: For "once a year" bashes,
usually held in December, often the comptroller will hold up the party planning,
by not giving a clear go ahead to you. If you're having more than 300 people,
you should try to get the party date as soon as possible. (e.g. for parties
of 300 to 500 you should begin planning by Sept 1.....parties of 600 to
800, begin planning by August 1 and parties of 900+, try to set your date
and hall as early as March, if possible). The very large halls book the
good Friday and Saturday dates in December quite early. but because some
halls have cancellations for prime dates, it's still possible to plan a
large December party in the fall. Of course, once the comptroller has given
you the funds, it's advantageous to have several preferred dates in mind,
in case the best hall is already booked up. Some planners have tried to
deal with party date problems, by shifting their "holiday parties"
to January....or to weeknights (e.g. Thursday) in December. Most employees,
though, don't appreciate attending the big bash on a weeknight, when they
have to rise at 6:00 a.m. the next morning for the job. We keep in close
contact with the halls, to learn which ones have last minute weekend openings
because of a cancellation.
2. COMMITTEE PROBLEMS - You want to let many people have a voice in
planning the party, so you've assembled a committee of 12 people. Unfortunately,
it's hard to match the schedule of 12 busy employees for planning meetings.
Usually a maximum of 3 to 5 people works better. Try not to schedule meetings
just for small tasks....obviously the meeting should be as organized as
possible. (when we work with you, we have a worksheet for party aspects
3. LACK OF INFO ON PAST PARTIES - For some reason, some employee/party
planners either squirrel away their notes from past parties (taking it with
them to the next job), or just toss them in the shredder. It's hard to "reinvent
the wheel" each time party planning comes up. This doesn't mean that
you "rubber stamp" last year's plan, having the same D.J., the
same chicken and mashed potatoes, the same dreary hall.......you're liable
to have the same "dud party". But, it's helpful to have each year's
party details put into an accessible party booklet. (We, of course,
have a massive booklet with all types of party services that we draw upon
when we help you plan). It can add hours to your drudgery time to have to
relocate 1) dance floor to rent ... or 2) party invitations with your company
logo......3) fake snow drifts..........4) chocolate cable cars...........5)
that great band you got in 2005 whose name slips your mind...etc.
4. PROCRASTINATION TREADMILL - Yes, everyone has a tendency to put off
making decisions....we sympathize with you, but there comes a point in the
planning process that further indecision compounds the work. For example,
if you have a good party date in December, but can't decide whether to have
a holiday themed event, or a political correct non-sectarian black and white
event.........you'll be stuck, unable to plan the decor, food, etc....months
may go by. (Medically speaking, this is how ulcers form). We can help clarify
your questions, and help you come to a consensus, so that you can move forward.....and
get back into the fun of party planning. Another procrastination treadmill
is the D.J. vs. band question (we have solutions for that). Oh, you're ready
to make a step? Feel free to fill out our no obligation questionnaire
and get the ball rolling.
5. DISAGREEMENTS OVER D.J. VS. BAND - Ah yes, it was easier when there
were only dance bands composed of human musicians. Now we have the additional
option of machines with recorded music in the electronic age. There are
advantages to both options. Obviously a disc jockey is less expensive, and
has the versions of songs you've heard on your car radio countless times.
The advantages of a dance band (assuming it's a great band) include: 1)
the presence of all those live human beings in tuxes and sequins, singing
and playing on stage creates a great party atmosphere right off the bat.......2)
the band can shorten or lengthen songs according to your preferences and
pacing.........3) live bands generally add a specialness to a party,
much above just having a D.J. (even jr.high dances have D.J.'s, whereas
the most special elegant parties generally have a live band). If you can't
agree on D.J. vs. BAND, we can provide an affordable D.J./BAND package,
which will keep all sides happy.(Request our "Band vs. D.J. pamphlet"
through our questionaire).
6. CANCEL PARTY DUE TO LOWERED BUDGET - Your employees work all year
long, and look forward to a holiday party, and it's not good for morale
to skip the party all together. In this day of downsizing and myopia towards
the "bottom line", you may feel it's impossible to create a party
if your funds have been slashed. We have been able to help employees continue
the party tradition, by producing the party cheaply "on site",
bringing in very affordable decor, food and music to transform "Building
B-253" into a temporary festive locale. Tell us what your Scrooge has
given you to work with, and we'll tell you what we can do. You'll be pleasantly
7. HAVE CEO SPEECH TOO LONG - This is a difficult problem, since no
one wants to advise the CEO to "keep it short", but we've seen
some parties almost squelched by a droning 50 minute speech by a CEO. The
CEO may see the party as merely an opportunity to rant on about his(her)
"vision", making his party guests sit quietly, unable to enjoy
the party.....as the minutes tick by. We remember a party that had the best
of all intentions----they had a French theme, complete with can can girls,
strolling French bistro musicians, flambe desserts, etc...and a 14 piece
dance band waiting in the wings. But the CEO proceeded to talk for 70 minutes.
When he mercifully finished, some people were too tired to stick around
for the band, and his speech definitely contributed to the fizzle out of
the party. If you can't speak up to the CEO, perhaps show him this column.
8. FOOD - Your choices may be constrained by your budget, but there
are other things to consider. In the health-conscious Bay Area, you probably
have some vegetarian employees. Also, some may be allergic to certain foods.
Some dishes are too messy for elegant affairs, but fine for picnics or informal
parties. For parties of over 500, some menus don't work because of the logistics
of carrying food to 500 people (e.g. sauces congeal)....and there's always
the bad coffee mistake. (if you must cut corners, don't skimp on
coffee, or real cream. If you do, the last impression the partygoer will
have is the dinner ending with brown water coffee, and a plastic packet
of fake "cream" powder). On a positive note, we have some great
menu ideas (themes, multicultural cuisines, California nouvelle cuisine,
exciting innovative dishes and presentations....for example in an abundant
seafood presentation over ice, we included something unusual--- a succulent
marinated baby squid in-a-cone hors d'oeuvre, to be eaten with chopsticks).
For a holiday party, we had a fabulous elegant French dessert called "Croque
En Bouche" (a 4 foot pyramid of eclairs filled with creme anglaise
"glued" together with golden spun sugar). Whether your budget
is champagne or Dr. Pepper, there are small effective touches one can do.
9. REPEAT THE SAME PARTY YEAR AFTER YEAR - Yes, it's easier to simply
repeat last year's party (see Mistake #3 above), but with minimal changes,
you'll keep up your employees' enjoyment of each year's party. Though there
may be 1 or 2 employees that rave about and demand to get "D.J. Dave"
back again for the 3rd time, there may be 10 or 15 that that would rather
have something different this year. Parties are more memorable if there
is something unexpected, exciting...and delightful. We organized an "Oscar
presentation" ceremony for 1 party, where we provided 2' high chocolate
Oscars for awards, that were given to various employees for serious and
silly accomplishments. (And we had "Marilyn Monroe" and "Clark
Gable" hand out the awards). Everyone loved it, and it was something
different. Another party, we had the band perform a customized version of
"That's Amore", with lyrics relating to the company's new buildings,
products and managers...it was laughter everywhere. Lately, because of the
popularity of T-V Reality Shows ("Survivor", "American Idol",
etc.) and game shows ("Do You Want to be a Millionaire"), we've
concocted some great skit packages, complete with costumes, lighting, music,
10. TRY TO DO IT ALL YOURSELF - Often the party planning responsibility
is dumped onto 1 person (namely you), and what was fun, now feels like a
PBS Pledge night....it just goes on and on. We can offer 2 suggestions:
ask for help from your fellow employees or.............give us a call. We
can come up with 4 or 5 complete party package ideas (complete proposal
usually to you within 48 hours). Staying within your budget, we can provide
as much or as little as you want: hall, menu, decor, music and entertainment,
celebrities, children's activities, awards, invitations, photographer, transportation,
etc. To begin the process, at no obligation, fill out our questionnaire.