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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Organizing Christmas Parties

I know, it's been a while since I last posted on this blog. I have been very busy these last couple of weeks that I hardly found any energy or inspiration to write. There were several attempts actually, but everytime I knock up there, it seemed that no body's home. Creativity went on vacation... but it's back now and I resolved to write more practical tips and suggestions in running HR.

This one came out a bit too late but I bet that you'll find this useful next year. Oh, and as usual, I welcome additional tips from those who have some to offer.

If you are a Filipino or working in the Philippines, you know how big a deal this month of December is. Everyone in the company is agog with what to wear, what to perform, who to invite and of course where and how to hold the Christmas party. There is hardly any excuse for not holding a Christmas party in the Philippines. If you are an expat leading a company in the Philippines, be advised, that there is no bigger damper than to tell your employees there is no Christmas party. It's almost like announcing the company's impending doom I tell you! A successful Christmas party on the other hand does not only bring people to the right mood, it improves relationship and energizes them to start the year right. I hope that emphasized it enough.

A lot goes into planning and holding a successful Christmas party. I'd like to share with you what I learned from a good number of experience planning and implementing both successful and utter failures of a christmas party.

  1. If you are a large organization and or if you have the money, hire a good events manager or coordinator. (Hint to events coordinators, this is the perfect time to leave your contact details in the comment portion below) A lot of time, money and effort goes into the planning and implementation of this program and having your people do it can take them away from "real work" plus little guarrantee of doing it right, so leave it to the professionals. Keep HR and other employees participation to a minimum like approving the coordinator's proposed options on how to hold the party, the food to be served and of course and as always, what they want to perform during the party. You just cannot, not have this.

If you are not convinced that Item #1 is the way to go, fine! have it your way. Here are some suggestions on how to do it:

  • Don't let HRD do it alone. No matter how big or small your company is, you should have a Christmas party committee that is well represented by the various departments and sectors in the company. You don't want to get blamed for a Christmas party that sucks just because you decided to have HR plan and do everything.

  • Divide the committee into following sub-committees:

    • Program Committee to take care of what goes in to the program, who will act as host, the sequence, Are we getting a band or a DJ? etc. If you plan to have inter-departmental contests, it would be good to have the program committee take care of it or set-up a separate committee to think of the mechanics and who to invite as judges.

    • Prizes (or solicitation) committee - To ask suppliers to sponsor some prizes for the program. Quick tip -It's always good to allocate some amount for the prizes. Supplier sponsorship is unreliable. You don't want to end up giving away plates and electric fans all night long.

    • Food committee - normally combined with another responsibility, this group is responsible for surveying the food and making sure that there is something for everyone. A quick note, people are getting more and more health conscious nowadays so you might want to make sure that you have something more than pork, pork, pork especially for the health buffs and those with religious preference.

    • Games committee - In charge of cooking up the parlor games and of course the rules and how to get contestants etc. Another quick note, make sure that the games you choose are easy to set-up, high energy and fast paced. Everyone hates lulls during Christmas parties except for dinner.

    • Physical Arrangements Committee - responsible for setting up the place, do some work on the stage, the sitting arrangement and seeing to it that everyone has a place in the venue. How about the size of the dance floor?

    • Did I forget any other committee? just holler.

Here are a few more tips you may want to consider:

  • Reserve your venue early. The bigger the size of your company is the earlier you should scout for a venue. August up to September is best for a 50-100 employees, if you are bigger, scout earlier and keep the list of venues, you might need it again.

  • Scout for bands, sound and lights system early as well, It will give you more time to choose. I suggest asking for demo or samples from bands if you plan to hire them.

  • This is just a theory that my former boss shared with me: The quality of the band you are hiring should be inverserly proportional to the amount of booze. If you have a good band/ performers, you don't need that much booze, if you have a mediocre band make sure your employees are drunk enough to appreciate it. There, I just have to put it.

  • Oh, another thing, if you have many disgruntled employees, limit the booze to one per person... :)

  • Don't let the speakers speak through dinner. It's ugly.

  • Save the best for last. give the biggest prizes last, when you plan to let everyone go. Give the big prizes early and you'll see a dramatic depletion of attendees.

  • Themes! How can I forget them. I've seen just about everything. Rockstar, retro, Filipiniana, costume, pajama, telefantasya, cosplay, you name it. Does everyone participate? no! Accept it or do something to motivate everyone to don the right attire. Throw some money at it. Have a prize for best costume or best organized costume. And drum it up prior to the party.

  • Make sure your managers are participating fully and have active roles in the program. Nothing beats seeing the bosses goof it up with the employees. Never mind the embarrassment of the awkward footsteps, this wil just endear the managers to them.

I've always seen Christmas parties as worthwhile events in a Filipino staffed company. Sure it's expensive, that's why you should ready some fund for it and include it in your budget. Yes, we Filipinos are big on celebrating the Christmas spirit and a good Christmas party makes the spirit linger. The feeling you want the employees to feel after the Christmas party is gratefulness for spending time, money and energy in putting together a great gathering for this special occasion. That is not easy, hence, considerable thoughts should be put into it.

Hmmm, I wonder what's next... How about planning your company outing? Hmmmm.


  1. Anonymous7:49 AM

    Hi, Ed!

    Thank you so much for this very informative article. Can you suggest any venue for christmas party? we are around 120-150 employees.

    Appreciate all your help.

    thanks, ED! :)

    Keep it up, idol! :)


  2. Quite useful information on organizing Christmas parties. Last year, I had arranged a grand Christmas party at one of beautiful New York venues with all our family members. Almost every friend and relative attended that party and we had quite amazing time there.


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