Holiday Celebrations on a Budget

By Bonnie Sokoloff

It’s that time of year again, and along with the holiday season come the parties!

Your team has worked hard for you all year and you want to show your appreciation but, as with many small businesses, you don’t have a lot of money to spend on “extras.”

Relax—you can still celebrate the season without breaking the bank.

Try Your Potluck

It’s not as lavish as a catered affair, but it really is one of the most economical types of parties you can throw. And it’s easy to organize as well. Decide ahead on a basic menu of items and then ask everyone to choose something that they’d like to bring. Perhaps you can cover the main items (e.g. a couple of entrees and beverages) and let the others choose between appetizers and desserts. And speaking of beverages, it’s important to exercise caution with the alcoholic variety—especially if the party is held during working hours, on the premises, or if any partygoers plan to drive home afterwards.

Let Them Be Your Guests

If possible, why not consider inviting your staff to your home for a casual get-together? You can keep the menu items simple without sacrificing quality—many retailers, such as Costco or M&M’s, offer a variety of trays and platters to keep your guests full and happy. You can also simplify things and just serve punch and finger-foods such as seasoned roasted nuts, chicken wings, mini pizzas, dips and pita chips, and everyone’s favourite, cheese and crackers. Want to hold an event that’s alcohol-free? Try a dessert party: offer a variety of coffees and teas, as well as a buffet of assorted desserts to try. And try not to think too much about the calorie count!

Up the Entertainment Value

There’s no need to go all out for a DJ or a band to get the music playing—all you really need is an MP3 player and some good speakers. Put together a few playlists beforehand (e.g. background/mingling music, dance tunes, holiday hits, etc.) and you’ll have everyone up on the dance floor (or your living room floor) all night long. Party games are another way to boost the fun factor—there’s nothing like a few rounds of Charades, Pictionary or Trivial Pursuit to create some friendly competition. It’s also a great ice-breaking activity that helps people get to know one another outside of the work environment.

To Give Gifts, or Not To Give Gifts?

This can be a tricky one, and really depends on the size of your group and your budget. It’s not all about the money, but if you really think your employees would rather receive a bonus or present instead of a party, you can play Santa instead of host. If you can afford both, throw the party and hand out small gift bags to your departing guests. We all know that a Tim Horton’s gift card, regardless of denomination, is usually a hit with everyone.

Remember, no matter what you decide in the end, the point is to show your staff just how much you appreciate all the time and effort they’ve put in for you throughout the year, and you don’t need to take on a bank loan or second mortgage to say, “Thank You!”

How does your company celebrate the holidays? Share your tips and ideas in the comment section!

BONNIE SOKOLOFF currently works as an Internal Communications Specialist for Staples Canada. She has over 15 years of experience with copywriting, editing and print production.

By Adam

December 05, 2011