( Download Your FREE Printable Christmas Planning Checklist Below)

As crazy as it sounds, right now is the best time to start planning your work Christmas party. Trust us on this one, if you want to plan something amazing with minimal stress and gain a reputation as the greatest Christmas party planner, you’ll need to get ahead of your competition and book in as early as this September!There’s no better way to thank your employees than with a celebratory office Christmas party. Organising a great event is not only a great way to show your appreciation, but it’s also an opportunity to engage your employees in team-building games whilst socialising over tasty treats and beverages.Since we’re limited by time, budgets, and other constraints, coming up with awesome party-planning ideas requires some extra effort and creativity. But, you can make the process fun and simple by using a staff party planning checklist and following a few standard steps. Start planning three to four months before the party so you have enough time to cover all the details.

We’ve put together a list of 16 things you can start doing now in September and even made a handy FREE printable Christmas Planning Checklist that will walk you through step by step how to start planning for Christmas now so come December you can sit back, relax and enjoy the holiday season!

Keep reading to get started with these 16 easy steps.

1.) Gather a Christmas Planning Committee (CPC)

For companies without a dedicated event management team, it’s a good idea to send out an email to all staff asking for volunteers interested in helping to plan the holiday party. These volunteers can share the tasks and check items off a central checklist when complete. The less stressed you feel during the party preparations, the better your party will be and you will be much less likely to forget any vital details during the process.

Did you know? Asking for help from your team is also a great way to make people feel more valued by showing them that you appreciate their ideas and opinions.

2.) Set a Budget

Before you can start planning your party, find out how much money you have to spend. Perhaps there is a Christmas party fund, or you may consider chipping in to cover some expenses to treat your employees? If you have a large budget, you can consider hiring a professional event planner and use this checklist as a guide for asking questions.  Once you have a figure in mind, it’s easier to decide which expenses are worth spending more on. For example, if your employees love challenges and adventure, you could spend more on location and team building activities instead of lavish Christmas decorations or hampers.

3.) Choose a Date & Time

The second week of December is the most popular time for Christmas parties, with Thursday and Fridays being a preference. This is so they are near the holidays, but don’t interfere with other private family events. It may be worth sending out a quick poll via email to all staff members so everyone can give input on the date and time of the party, then work with what the majority vote. By sorting the date of the Christmas party as early as you can, you’ll be able to send save the dates out as early as possible too!

4.) Decide on a Theme

A fantastic theme will get your employees more excited for the event as well as make it a more memorable experience on the day. It will also make it much easier to decide on the details, decorations, photo opportunities and entertainment. Choose a traditional Christmas theme or a fun and silly one to compliment your company ethos and team personalities.

It is also worth noting, when choosing a theme to be mindful of varying cultures and religious beliefs within your team. You may choose to opt for a holiday or winter theme to be more inclusive.

5.) Find a Location

If you have the funds, you could rent out an elegant venue, such as a restaurant, hotel or private garden. If you have a limited budget or if you think your whole team will struggle to meet in one location, such as if you have remote workers, you can still plan an epic party in your office. You can transform your office into a festive wonderland and bring in suppliers to host virtual or in-person activities.

When it comes to venue sourcing, by planning early, you will get your pick of the best venues out there, plus you may also bag early bird booking offers, discounts or incentives. With your theme in mind, research and shortlist ideal venues to bring your vision to life. Then arrange site visits to make sure they’ve got everything you require. Check the spaces as well as facilities they offer as the venue location or tech can make a dramatic impact to your guests experience.

6.) Consider the Dress Code

You may want to suggest a dress code to help your employees prepare for their party. For example, the location, venue type, activities planned or theme may be key factors to consider and will relieve any stress from your guests in the guesswork of what to wear!

If you’re thinking about including active team building games, you can suggest casual wear that is going to be comfortable, for over dinner events, suggest glamourous attire and for office based or virtual parties, why not go with ugly Christmas jumpers!

7.) Send Invitations

After you’ve decided on the above factors, you can send out your Christmas party invitations to start building the hype. For formal party invitations, a polished invitation mailed to your recipients will go down very well. For more casual parties, an invitation sent out via email or any other internal communication platform will reduce costs and be just as effective. Include the basic details, such as the date, time and location, recommended dress code and what activities guests can expect to participate in. Strive to give guests three to four weeks notice of the party and don’t forget to include your contact information for your guests to RSVP to and ask any questions they may have.

8.) Consider a Gift Exchange

This is optional and only for employees who want to take part. A festive gift exchange can be a wonderful feature to add a little extra sparkle and holiday cheer. Secret Santa and White Elephant are two very popular gift exchange games. For Secret Santa, each person buys a gift for a co-worker whose name they picked out of a hat , whereas with White Elephant, everyone picks a number out of a hat and chooses a mystery gift or chooses to steal an opened gift from someone else!

We would suggest to avoid putting any pressure on your employees to spend money, but if they are keen to get involved then set a price limit on how much people can spend to keep things fair and affordable.

Your company may even choose to provide a variety of gifts like gift cards, hampers, vouchers, free lunches or even a day off from work. These types of gifts are great for inciting competition during a Christmas team building activity.

9.) Plan Festive Party Games

Food, good company and a festive decked venue can be the basis of a good Christmas event alone, but you don’t want to rely on those two things to keep your party buzzing. Every great Christmas event needs a well chosen selection of holiday games to maintain the level of cheer and excitement! By adding some lighthearted competition through team work activities you can be sure there will never be a dull moment.

To get inspired, check out Blue Hat’s high quality festive team building activities HERE. All events are fully hosted by professional presenters with first class technical support.

10.) Turn your event into a Give-Back event

The spirit of Christmas is all about giving and spreading positivity, so why not make your event into one that makes a difference to those in need? Give-Back events generate positive IMPACTS that can be turned into real monetary donations to charities around the world.   Any of Blue Hat’s Christmas Events can be turned into a Give-Back event on request for team sizes small and large, making a fun shared experience for your team that includes an element of charitable giving. To date, Blue Hat have helped clients generate a whopping 1.7 million IMPACTS.

11.) Consider Offering a Meal

An event that is spread across a day or at least a few hours will require something more substantial then canapes and a finger buffet. Often, a Christmas party is centred around a tasty Christmas lunch or dinner. If you’re hosting your event at a restaurant or a venue that provides food, then you can delegate this duty to the caterers. To be more inclusive, make sure they offer options to suit peoples different dietary requirements.

12.) Set Up Photo Opportunities

The best way to commemorate your party is to create photo opportunities where your guests can pose with fun seasonal props and dress up gear. (Santa hats, antler headbands, white beards, elf ears and and giant glittery glasses are just a few fun festive prop ideas you can buy!) A photo booth or stunning backdrop can be a great way to capture your team bonding and having a great time but it will also double up as engaging marketing content for your company’s social media channels. Create a unique Snapchat Geofilter or a event hashtag that everyone can tag their photos with online. People naturally like to see the human side of a corporation to gain familiarity and trust of a brand, so your customers will love getting to know the team members that contribute to the company.

13.) Prepare a Playlist

It’s best to refer to your party planning team to create a playlist that’ll get everyone up and dancing and also to fit your theme. If you have the budget, a great option that’s worth considering is hiring a live musician or band to really kick off the celebrations! Don’t forget to mix the old Christmas classics with current mainstream music to keep things upbeat!

14.) Decorate, Decorate, Decorate!

There can never too many fairy lights in our opinion! Decorations are the very essence of expressing your Christmas pizazz and for bringing your party theme to life. Wow your guests on arrival with carefully planned out styling. Don’t forget to include a large decorated Christmas tree as the pièce de résistance!

15.) Plan an Awards Announcement with Prizes

Another optional party highlight that you can add, is a mini internal awards giving ceremony, where the host announces a series of awards. These can range from more serious awards such as best performing team member to more humourous awards such as ‘The Pen Stealer Award’ for the employee who is always walking off with other people’s pens. You need to be sure that your funny awards will entertain your employees, not embarrass them.

Also, the prizes don’t have to be expensive. The point is to have a good time and laugh, not to give out valuable awards. For example Duct tape is a funny prize for an award for being able to fix just about anything! Or a keychain flashlight can be a charming prize for an employee whose positive attitude shines even in the darkest of times!

16.) Post a Heartfelt Thank You Card

To wrap up your end of year celebrations, you can send everyone a thank you card for attending and being great employees. For those that helped with planning the party, you can give thanks in theirs for their contribution as well.

If you use customisable online templates why not include some of the best photos that were taken at the party? Your team members will be sure to smile and reminisce of the good time they had with their work family!


Christmas parties are a wonderful way to celebrate everyone’s hard work for the year. They give your team the chance to enjoy themselves, socialise and let their hair down. If you follow these 15 steps, you’ll be able to plan an unforgettable office Christmas party!

Are you ready to start planning your party? If so, Blue Hat has a Calendar full of Christmas Events to help kick off your celebrations! Not only are our activities fully hosted with professional presenters, they are fully customisable to your companies requirements and you can ‘try before you buy’ with a free consultation and activity demonstration.

It is never too early to book your Christmas party. We’ve had some smart cookies who have enjoyed their Christmas parties so much that they immediately book us again for the following year, straight after the event has ended!

Get your FREE Printable Christmas Planning Checklist Now

Are you ready to finally have a fun and stress-free Christmas? Subscribe to our newsletter and we’ll send your copy of the Christmas Planning Checklist – What To Get Done In September, straight to your inbox!

Written by Ben Parkinson

Published on 6 September, 2021

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