Oct 03 2018
Lauren Hamer
3 Minutes to read

This holiday season it might be a good idea to take a hard look at your office’s party budget. Halloween, Thanksgiving, December holidays. They’re all drawing near. The sooner you wrap your head around the costs, the better. Wing it, and your budget for these corporate holiday-party events will likely be blown by Thanksgiving. Here are seven tips for planning a holiday party on a budget. So you can impress your colleagues without breaking the bank.

1. Book the Venue ASAP

Venues are usually in high demand during the holiday season, so you’ll need to reserve a space three to four months ahead of time before rates rise. Once you finalize the event date, theme, and budget, get to work finding a venue that fits the needs of your corporate holiday party. Book it as soon as possible.

The prices for a venue can range from affordable to extravagant, depending on its location, seating capacity, and services. For those planning a party on a budget, resourcefulness is key. Choose a less costly weekday or an off-peak time to cut down on venue costs. You can save additional money by picking a venue that will allow you to use the caterer of your choice. While you’re feeling proactive, start planning your menu as soon as possible, to knock two projects off your list.

2. Cheap Meals for the Food Lover

Tips for planning a party on a budget for the office.

Food is what pleases crowds, so try not to skimp on it. That said, there are ways to design a menu to pinch pennies the right way.

  • Inexpensive cuisines. When planning a corporate holiday party for a large guest list, arm yourself with cost-effective cuisines and dishes that are big on flavor. Pastas, chilies, and stews are really good and fill bellies. Cuisines like Mexican, Indian, Thai, and Chinese are inexpensive and just plain addictive.
  • Small, delicious bites. Forget chafing trays of filet mignon. Keep costs low by forgoing the main course and building the menu around tasty appetizers. People love to nosh on flavorful morsels (think shrimp toasts and zucchini-herb fritters). Plus, appetizers give everyone a chance to move around the room and talk.
  • Make it an Early Bird Special. Instead of a costly dinner outing, why not plan a relaxing breakfast, brunch, or lunch party instead? It’s no secret that breakfast and brunch menus offer cheaper options. And booking a venue at an off-peak time can help to cut costs. By simply moving your party to an earlier time slot, you can make party planning on a budget much easier.
  • Use the caterer of your choice. Many hotels require you to use their catering. But if you choose a venue that allows you to bring in outside caterers, you can pick an option that works with your budget. Our platform features over 60,000 restaurants nationwide that offer business catering for every kind of appetite and budget.

3. Decor: Less Is More 
Tips for planning a party on a budget for the office.

Glamorous party decorations are nice, but will only be used on the day of your corporate holiday party. So don’t get carried away with extravagant details. A few elegant elements are enough to make a soirée special. Decorative wintertime plants like fir, pine, and holly can be brought in as a seasonal nod to the winter holidays and used across multiple corporate party events. As the party season rolls on, mix in other inexpensive accents, like tablecloths, centerpieces, and balloons, to change up the decor.

4. Don’t Guess the Guest List

Make attendance rules clear in your invitations to avoid inviting more guests than you can afford. Is this a staff-only gathering? Are invitees allowed to bring plus-ones? Keep your guest list up-to-date to ensure you don’t overdo it (or under-do it) on the catering and drinks. If you want to call in for some backup, free event-management tools, like RSVPify and Eventbrite, can help you track RSVPs.

5. Rally an Event Day Team

Rather than pay for event staff, assemble an office party committee to help you plan, set up, and take down the party. Got a colleague who lives by checklists? Is there a DJ or an interior-design hobbyist in the office? Ask team members for help. Then assign tasks and provide schedules and instructions in an event guide. The day will run like a well-oiled machine thanks to those you trust the most.

6. Reign It in at the Bar

Tips for planning a party on a budget for the office.

A running alcohol tab can bust even generous budgets. Shutter the open bar and limit the drink menu to a few inexpensive options, like beer, wine, and one signature cocktail that complements the theme of your corporate holiday party.

7. Save on an Unconventional Venue

Forgo the spendy ballroom. Scope out less costly, nontraditional venues if you’re planning your corporate holiday party on a budget. Places like a gallery, theatre, restaurant, brewery, or school hall could be an affordable solution, depending on the size of your party.

Or, throw out venue costs altogether and use your budget to transform your office into an entirely new space. Few people will mind carousing in the office if the workspace is transformed into a special event. Host an elegant, low-key party in the office with mood lighting, themed decorations, and a smorgasbord of delicious catering.

Planning a holiday party for the office?

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Lauren Hamer

Written by:

Lauren Hamer

Lauren Hamer is a North Carolina based writer and entrepreneurial career consultant. She has crafted office management, workplace trends, and lifestyle content for clients including The Muse, Glassdoor, Yahoo!, Office Ninjas, and more. When she’s not writing about work or food at work, look for her in the kitchen making up recipes and flipping fry pans like she’s on an episode of “Chopped”.

Posted in: In the IndustryOffice Management

Tagged with: Budgeting, Catering, Events and Meetings, Food Ordering, Lunch