The invitations are coming, by email or posting on the office message board.

It’s time for the corporate holiday party. A time to gather with coworkers outside the constraints of the office, this is the chance to celebrate a successful business year (or try to forget a disappointing one), eat well, drink a bit and relax with colleagues. As party time approaches, here are tips for party planners and attendees to ensure a successful soiree:

If you are planning the party:

  • Food and drink: Know your final number of attendees at least a week to 10 days before the event. The venue needs that final number ahead of time to order and prepare food and drinks. If there’s one thing people talk about for months and even years later, it’s that holiday party where the food ran out and the bar ran dry. Party organizers cannot please every palate, but a variety of appetizers, snacks, entrees and/or desserts gives everyone the opportunity to find something they enjoy eating. Some event venues accommodate special diet requests; ask the catering manager what they provide. WatersEdge offers a variety of corporate buffet menus for your event.
  • Entertainment: The decision on a live band, DJ, magician, stand-up comedian, acrobats or karaoke depends on your party budget and the boss’ final decision. Offer some form of diversion to keep coworkers from standing around talking about work. Many event venues contract with entertainers and do the background screening and vetting before recommending them. Check with the event center before signing an outside entertainer unknown to the venue manager.
  • Seating: It’s uncomfortable to stand, eat, drink and talk for hours. Adequate seating (tables and chairs) are part of the party budget.
  • Timing is everything: The corporate holiday party is a social event, not an all-night rave. Start on time, work with the venue manager to keep food service flowing, enforce a time limit on any managers’ speeches and call on your entertainers to cue guests near the party’s end (slower music, final announcements, the big prize raffle).
  • Keep the company in focus: Use posters, banners and a short speech from the CEO to remind guests that their presence is part of their bigger employment picture. It’s a fun night, but they work hard for it.
  • Stay within budget: Keep receipts and track all expenses. Get everything in writing, review it and avoid surprise charges the night of the party.

If you are a guest at the party:

  • Eat something before you go: This serves two purposes; food in your stomach absorbs alcohol and you don’t rush the buffet and inhale appetizers in front of your boss.
  • It’s OK to have alcohol: Know your limits and don’t drive home. Hand the keys to a friend or use a rideshare service. The company appreciates you and wants you back at work Monday.
  • Introduce yourself (and your spouse/guest) to others: Engage in conversation with people you don’t know, find out what they do at the company and express interest. The holiday event is a good time to discover more about your business because you meet people from offices or departments you don’t normally contact.
  • Don’t embarrass yourself: You’re not a great singer just because there’s a karaoke microphone available. And refrain from dancing if your moves are dangerous. Leave the really dirty jokes in the gym locker room, and those chairs are for sitting, not making a stand and denouncing your manager as a “corporate overlord.”
  • Thank the organizer(s): Find the party planner, the boss and everyone who makes this event possible, and say thank you.

WatersEdge Event Center offers elegant indoor and outdoor space for weddings, corporate events and private parties. Our 27 acres of woods and lakes and lodge-style buildings provide meeting space with wireless Internet capability, audio-visual equipment and full catering services. Our indoor venues range from 1,200 to 4,000 square feet, suitable for any size gathering any time of year. Contact us for wedding packages, catering menus and corporate information and make our setting the center of your next gathering.