The dos and don’ts to make your work Xmas party rock

Ryan Boyd
The dos and don’ts to make your work Xmas party rock

It’s that time of year when employees trade in their serious ties for silly hats, their grey suits for big red ones, and their coffee cups for something a bit stronger.

As Xmas Office Party season draws near, many workplaces are deep in party planning mode and may need a bit of guidance to ensure their party is one that staff will be talking about long after the silly season is over.

Frances Mahoney, founder of Ninety Nine Reasons Event Management and with 17 years’ experience creating unique and memorable corporate and private events around New Zealand, shares the dos and don’ts to creating an amazing office Christmas party.



Get the timing wrong

“Holding it too early in November or too late in December is not going to go down well. Like porridge, you need it to be just right.

“Somewhere in the range of 5-15 December is pretty safe.”


Go nuts with theming

Practical decorations can be time consuming and expensive. Most can be done with your AV company through screens and lights. Save the decorations for your Instagram area (see below).


Book talent you haven’t auditioned

“Don’t assume the band or any other performer is going to be good. Do your research first to make sure they are what you’re looking for.

“And John from Accounts might be a fabulous DJ at his mate’s 40th, that does not make him the right choice for your event.”


Make your staff work

“If you have an in-house events company, don’t make them do all the work. Let them engage professional event companies, as they also have worked really hard and deserve a Christmas Party.

“It is not a fun night watching all of their colleagues partying up while they have to be the responsible ones and pack down at the end of the night.”


Have plenty of options

“It’s a Christmas Party, so naturally there will be food and drink involved. Best to have a good variety and decent quality options available.

“And remember that not everyone drinks, so have some decent non-alcoholic options available too, such as some tasty mocktails.”



Get in quick

“Start thinking about the venue in the New Year, as the good venues get snapped up really fast.”


Get outside help

“Engage professionals they get better pricing for you and this is their bread and butter, they also plan multiple events so they just get on with it.

“So many companies let a subcommittee organise their Christmas party because it is fun! They like coming up with a theme and working out what they are going to wear, but what they forget about is the important hidden details, like health & safety, the responsibility getting everyone home safe, and a thousand other things most people wouldn’t even consider.

“Leave that stuff to a professional and then your staff will also be able to enjoy the party much more as well.”


Think about social media

“People will want to take photos and show off the awesome time they are having. Create Instagram areas, which is where the theming can go with a few props and decorations.

“Green screen walls are fantastic for Christmas parties as they can put backgrounds that match your party’s theme in the photos.

“They have multiple photo options and can go straight to Facebook or Instagram pages.”


Cater well

“No matter how good a party may be, if the food isn’t any good or runs out early, people will not be happy. The food needs to be good and plentiful (especially as people will be drinking).”


Frankie’s final thoughts

“I put it down to this, if the music is great, the food is fabulous, and the booze is not nasty, your guests are going to have a brilliant night.”


Want to do something different?

If a ‘party’ party is not quite what you have in mind for your business and want to do something a bit more team orientated, here are some other ideas that you can do before heading out for a meal and a few drinks.


Interactive event

If you are looking for something indoors and interactive, a murder mystery, casino night (not with real money), or social cooking experience may be what you’re after. Have a Google to see if there are any companies that offer these near you.


Low impact sports

Not everyone is an athlete that enjoys physical activities, but bowls, mini-golf, and 10 pin bowling are pretty relaxed and good for a bit of friendly inter-office competition. And best part, you can drink and nibble while playing.


Outdoor quests

Team activities that combine scavenger hunts, Amazing Race-style challenges, and similar team-based trials are quite popular at the moment. They get your team out of the office and running around town, and if you dress


Beer/wine tours

Depending on where you live, you may be able to hire a bus and do a bit of a vineyard or craft brewery tour. Great way to visit a few nice locations while also enjoying the festivities.