5 Tips for Planning an Event No One Will Forget

A cartoon showing an office worker who unexpectedly wins an ugly sweater competition

We’ve all been to company events that wowed us and others that were duds. So if you’re the one in charge of that next office party, the pressure is on to make it an event that’s talked about the next day — for all the right reasons. Here are some tips for planning an event that no one will forget.

Now more than ever, administrative professionals are involved in a wide variety of undertakings in the office. And chances are one of those tasks is event planning. 

Case in point: Seventy-eight percent of admins said their managers have asked them to assist with event planning. That’s according to research we conducted with the International Association of Administrative Professionals for the Office of the Future project. And of those who haven’t been asked, nearly half said they would like to be.

Regardless of what kind of event you help with, be it the annual holiday party, an after-work office celebration or an ugly-sweater contest, planning an event for your colleagues should be a highlight of your day rather than a burden on your schedule. Use these five event-planning tips to make your next office party run smoothly and truly stand out as an affair to remember:

Know your budget

Whether you’ve been given the go-ahead to throw a fancy holiday soiree, or you’re limited to planning a Presidents Day potluck in the break room, knowing your budget and sticking to it will help you — and your boss — breathe a little easier. There are plenty of ways to throw a budget-friendly get-together, such as considering alternate venues or getting colleagues involved in the decorating, catering or entertainment offerings.

Be tech savvy

If you’re planning an event that requires collecting information or ideas from colleagues (think potlucks, Secret Santa gift exchanges or brown bag lunches), turn to productivity apps and software to maximize your planning resources. Google Apps, Doodle and SurveyMonkey are all popular options for creating surveys, making sign-up forms and settling on convenient dates when event planning.

Planning an office event

Rally the troops

What is the measure of a successful office party? More often than not, attendance is a key factor. To help ensure RSVPs, get the word out early, talk up the event with management in all departments and don’t shy away from reaching out to employees individually. Give employees plenty of time to plan ahead.

Think outside the office

While the office is a frequent setting for lunches, social hours and even holiday parties, start thinking outside the office walls when it comes to planning an event. Giving the team a chance to step out of the office can encourage camaraderie, and outings such as bowling, laser tag or challenge courses can foster teamwork while allowing employees to enjoy and express their competitive sides. 

If the event you’re planning is a celebratory dinner, holiday party or other special event, consider booking a more unusual venue, such as a local museum, park or art gallery.

Pick a theme

Consider tying together your venue, food and entertainment with a creative theme. Offering a make-your-own sushi station, a strolling musician or interactive casino tables will leave your guests talking long after the party is over. 

Just be sure to consider the audience — are you including employees’ children, spouses or customers? Determining the type of atmosphere you want to evoke before you start planning an event will help you achieve the right balance of entertainment and professionalism. 

No matter the season or the reason for your involvement with coordinating something special, these event-planning tips can help it all go smoothly while ensuring all in attendance have a great time.

Be sure to view more findings from the Office of the Future research project, including key traits the most successful administrative professionals share

This post was originally published in October 2014 and has been updated to reflect more current information.

Tags: Events