Monday, November 16, 2009

Holiday Parties On A Budget Can Be As Simple As A Potluck With A Plan

Has the dreaded down economy put a damper on your company’s holiday cheer? No worries, with an eye on your budget and a little planning you can still turn the dreaded “office potluck” into something festive and hip.

“Lavish, chic corporate holiday parties are one of my favorite events to plan,” said Lisa Holst, a certified meeting planner with EventPros Inc., a Kansas City-based special event and communications services firm. “However, it can be just as fun to transform an office or someone’s home into a fabulous event space.”

“You don’t have to be extravagant to throw a holiday party,” Holst said. “Keeping it simple can be just as nice. Start with designating a planning committee. You will be surprised at who might volunteer and how creative a group of people can get.”

“A successful event, regardless of how much money you spend, should appeal to all five senses (sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing),” she said. “If you can master this it’s sure to be a great time.”

Tips from the EventPro:

What, When and Where
The options are endless. Consider turning that lunchtime potluck into an after work cocktail party or dinner in the office. Look for an associate willing to volunteer their home. Make it cocktails and appetizers, perhaps desserts only; or go big and plan for dinner. You can still do this on a small budget.

The Food

Have your planning committee design the menu by assigning who will bring what. It can still be a “potluck” it just needs to be a “potluck with a plan”. I’ve had great success doing this with friends. A more frugal approach is to work with your local grocery store or favorite restaurant in designing a menu. Don’t be afraid to ask for something different that’s not on their menu.

The Décor
“Keep it simple stupid” is a rule to live by. Simple is classy. There are so many hip, festive things you can do for little to no money. Have your planning committee designate an overall theme and try not to stray from it. Get into your personal décor inventory from home: if everyone has black table cloths, start there. I helped plan an event with friends and we were each responsible for designing our own tables of ten from china to centerpieces. Each table ended up with a different holiday theme from a collection of nutcrackers to a vintage collection of oil lamps as centerpieces, and what a great excuse to use grandma’s real silverware and the fine china that collects dust! Traditional florals such as poinsettias or fresh garland (smells good too) with votive candles or twinkle lights are always a classic. Your local farmers markets are a great place to find these seasonal plants.

The Entertainment

The possibilities are endless. This is a great time for your coworkers to bring out their hidden talents. You never know-- you might have an “American Idol” amongst you or a DJ wanna-be. There are also many cool video games out there like Wii or Playstation. Recently I attended a party and the “Dancing with the Stars” Playstation game was a huge hit. The new “Band Hero” might stir up some excitement as well. Of course, the simple elegance of traditional holiday music from an iPod playing softly in the background also works.

“Holiday fun doesn’t have to be a budget breaker,” Holst said. “And of course, if you have some budget available, look into hiring a professional event planner. You might be surprised at how affordable and indispensable they can be. A planner also affords you the luxury of focusing on the fun instead of worrying about the details.”

For more information, contact Holst at EventPros, Inc. at 816-960-3400 or visit the website at or on Facebook.