Keys to a Successful Company Holiday Party or Banquet

By Norm Barnhart

The difference between a great event and an average party can be very elusive to many company party organizers.  You want your guests to enjoy themselves. You want the event to be unique, fun and a hit with your friends and co-workers, and you want people to leave with positive memories and a feeling of being glad that they came. As challenging as it is to put a successful event together, this should be a fun process and it can all smoothly come together by following a few simple guidelines.

There are many locations that host lovely parties and once your group’s size is established you can look for a meeting room that is ideal.  Event centers, ballrooms, hotels and restaurants offer meeting rooms and dinners at a wide range of costs.  Figure $12-$15 for lower priced menus and $18-$28 for fine dining.  Of course you can also find many places that will give you a superb dinner and atmosphere for much more.

A great atmosphere and quality of food is a big part of the success of an event but as we will discuss soon, that may not be the single most important consideration is the success of a company banquet or party.

Don’t let the high cost fool you. You can have a very successful event on a smaller budget. I have been a part of many very wonderful events and company parties that have been held at the office and these were economically catered with very tasty food and the crowd had a blast.

Probably the reason that buffets are very popular for this type of event is at least the guest can choose what they like and is often hotter than food that is brought out on a covered plate.

One quick thing to consider in event selection is parking. Discover if the hotel charges guests for parking, as some have a fee of up to $12 per car that your guests must pay before they even step into the “free” event.

Decorations can be fancy or frugal, but in the dim light of a banquet room you might find that spending a lot may not add anything to the event.  A simple yet elegant option is to place a candle on an 8” square mirror at the center of each table.  Helium balloons can be designed in beautiful ways such as arches and in other festive ways, but consider the inability of people to see the speaker or president of the company as these may block the sight lines to the stage if the balloons are floating up from the center of each table.   Decoration suggestions will be covered in another article.

The Number One Key to a Great Event!

Step back and consider some of the events you have attended and what made them great.  It comes down to the people having fun together.  There are ways to instigate fun and bring humor into a party that will make all the difference.

Someone I admire a lot said, “When was the last time you, or someone you know, said, “Wow, that Chicken Kiev was sure awesome 3 weeks ago at the office party.”  Chances are the food was good, but not outstanding or memorable as the waiters brought it in on covered patters that were put together an hour before and held in heating racks in the back room.   Food, decoration or the hall have little to do with what makes an event memorable or the successful.

The number one factor to an event’s success is as simple as selecting the right after-dinner entertainment. Many entertainment committees will spend much time and resources on the menu and decorations and this adds positively to the atmosphere of the event, but what your guests will remember and still talk about weeks after, will be the laughter they had and the real team building fun of an excellent entertainer.  This sounds simple and easy. The following are some tips to help bring this all together and make your next event very successful.

First, by entertainment, we are not talking here about a D.J. or a band.  This is basically background entertainment and adds to the event in many ways.  But people can still have fun with even an average D.J. as things can keep moving by selecting a few good tunes.  For tips on selecting a great D. J. look for another article on this topic and some recommendations.  I have observed many events where when the band starts half the audience leaves as it is loud or not to their taste.

The #1 key to a wonderful event is bringing in an after dinner entertainer that grabs your audience’s attention and brings them together. This is the expertise  of a comedy entertainer who skillfully works the room.  Discovering a great entertainer for your event is your challenge and can be a daunting task.  The rest of this article will present many suggestions that will help give your event a very strong and positive outcome.

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2 Responses to “Keys to a Successful Company Holiday Party or Banquet”


  1. 1 Sean August 19, 2010 at 4:20 am

    Norm,

    I have had the good fortune to see you perform in a couple of different venues. I saw you perform in a library where you held a large group of kids spellbound. It was interesting to see them laugh while their jaws were hanging open with amazement!

    I also saw you perform for a group of several hundred adults at the Minnesota State Fair. They were tired and their feet hurt, but they perked right up when your show began. They laughed and participated in the show, and were disappointed that the show came to an end.

    After seeing you hold two difficult audiences attention I have no doubt that you would be the perfect entertainer for a corporate event. Good luck to you. I hope I get to see you again sometime.


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