While client gifts may be at the forefront of your mind this holiday season, throwing a company party can be a lot of fun if handled properly. If you can hold a party which is appropriate for all levels of employees, without blowing the budget, then you’re halfway there. While you may have been involved in a horror holiday party yourself, it doesn’t have to be that way. With a bit of creativity, you can meet everyone’s expectations and even be able to let your hair down yourself.

Every office is different, and there’s no particular right way or wrong way to tackle it – just do what is best for your team and your office environment. So if you’re feeling the pressure and want to put together an event that everyone will remember, read on for helpful planning tips.

Start Early

If you intend to host a holiday party, then the reality is you need to start planning today (or better yet, yesterday). There are so many great reasons to throw a party; the most important being that your associates, colleagues or employees probably have earned it. More than anything, planning the event early allows you to lock in a date and choose a suitable venue. For those with kids, late December may be challenging to navigate due to school events and festivities. Just remember, the earlier you begin the brainstorming, the more options you’ll have.

Plan an activity

While a holiday party may be part of your corporate culture, it can also be fun to mix it up a bit. Why not plan an activity that people can enjoy? Depending on the size of your company, you may want to consider paintballing or bowling or even take in a movie together – something that veers away from the standard sit down and dine approach. Have a look in your local area and see what companies can put together as a corporate event. And for those who want to continue the fun afterward, you can always plan an alternative venue for drinks and appetizers if there’s interest.

Have a wide variety of food

Whatever kind of party you do intend to throw, it is essential that you take into account everyone’s dietary needs. And that includes drinks as well. Make sure a wide range of options are available to cater for vegetarians, vegans, healthy eaters, picky eaters, non-drinkers, etc., and that there is enough to go round. There’s nothing worse than leaving a party hungry if the original intention was to feed everyone.

Rent a party space

If you hire a party space, then the reality is you can do whatever you want. You can organize a potluck celebration, hire a caterer, have lucky door prizes or arrange a band or a DJ –whatever you like. It gives you the ability to start from scratch – a blank slate if you will. You can set a theme and run with it, taking special care that it caters to everyone’s interests.

Take a vote

Why not ask those attending what they want to do? You might just be surprised by their responses. You may find they want the opportunity to dress up or that they want to spend their time volunteering rather than just sitting in a bar drinking. Put it to the group so at least the organizing committee can work from a series of ideas submitted. You can’t please everyone – but at least you can attempt to satisfy the majority of your team.

Give Back

Everyone tends to be in a very giving spirit towards the end of the calendar year, and it’s a great time to organize a get together which involves helping others. Rather than fork out for a huge party, you can come up with a plan to aid a local charity in whatever area they need assistance with. You can guarantee that your team will get a lot out this type of event, and you can also make a real difference. Volunteering is a wonderful bonding experience for groups and a great excuse to share those corporate photos on social media.

Hold It During Office Hours

Not everyone has time to attend a big formal gala, so what better way to show gratitude to your team than to allow them to knock off work early and enjoy an in-office celebration. It could be as fancy or as casual as you like; but either way, it allows everyone to mingle in a less formal environment. There is no pressure for people to stay after hours if they don’t feel like it.

Whether your budget is time, you’re short on time, or you’ve waited until the last minute to plan, with these simple tips, you can put together an enjoyable, office-appropriate celebration for your team without the stress.