Avoiding The End of Year Work Party Hangover

Once again the festive season is upon us and it is time to organise the perfect finale to the work year. You want to show your staff that you appreciate their hard work throughout the year, and the best way to do that is with good food, good drinks, lively entertainment and fabulous company, however after your carefully planned office party is over, you somehow feel used and ashamed, with a broken heel and a cigarette but in your hair.

Here’s how to avoid the end of year work party hangover:

Plan ahead

Oops too late, maybe next year.

Get the venue right

People want to drink, not drive:

  • Choose a venue close to your workplace so that people are comfortable with the travel

  • If it’s in the budget, hire a minibus. If you are partying locally you can charter people from their homes to the venue, or if you are going out of town you may want to have everyone meet at work and shuttle them to the venue. You don’t need to hire a minibus, it is enough you are giving everyone a night out, but everyone loves a bus.

That’s all very nice, but where will I have it?

Well that depends on the size and .. let’s say … demeanour … of your group.

  • For a smaller group (less than 50) your local restaurant is a great place to start. Somewhere close to your workplace with great food and wine is easy to get to and a wonderful way for you and your staff to unwind. You don’t have to clean up after yourselves and your guests can have a great night and leave at a reasonable hour or move on to another venue afterwards. If you have enough people you can arrange to have the place to yourself.The only drawback to this is that it may be awkward or bad for your businesses reputation if there are other patrons in the restaurant and your guests are being a bit on the rowdy side & you wont be able to have loud entertainment.

  • Your local Surf Club or hall is a great option for a medium size group (50+). If you have guests coming who may feel the need to strip off and dance on tables with feather boas other, more sensible guests will be able to sit back and have a condescending laugh while reminiscing about their glory days rather than be horrified and embarrassed by their behaviour in  front of other diners.

    And don’t forget the view, a sunset over the water is always spectacular, particularly in the summer months.Though bear in mind that while Surf Clubs & Halls may seem like the cheaper option, but you will still need to arrange catering, alcohol and bar staff, so it may not be cheaper in the end and someone will have to clean up at the end of the night, or you won’t get your bond back.
  • Function Rooms are great for medium to large groups, while it may be a more expensive option (though some local clubs hire out their function rooms for free – they just like you to use their catering service), you can expect a professional service from people with extensive experience catering for functions, well, most of the time.

  • Cruises are much the same as function centres, oh, except you are trapped.

  • Your House, just kidding. That would be really bad idea. (Sorry if that’s your plan)

The Food

Obviously, if you choose a restaurant, function centre or cruise, the food will be organised, if not you need to think about a few things:

Finger Food, Buffet or Sit Down Meal

Depending on the timing of your function, I would steer away from just finger food, even if there is a lot of it, people just don’t seem to fill up on it. If you dont want to witness your office temp telling her supervisor just how she really feels immediately before throwing up, and the guys in accounting getting arrested for doing a nudie run along the beach. Of course all this can be very entertaining, but the guilt may set in if you know you orchestrated it all yourself by starving people, so feed your guests. And real food, not itty bitty pretty food, but a real meal. And early. If you feed people too late, they will be drunk already and won’t eat anyway, bringing us right back to were we started.

A buffet is great, it is inexpensive and while the food is not particularly fancy, it is food that people just plain love. You have your two meats, veges, salads, pasta, bread rolls and condiments (most supply plates and cutlery as well, plus clean up at the end of the night.) People can have as much or as little as they like and fussy eaters & vegetarians can choose what they would like to eat. Honestly, I don’t think you can go wrong here.

A sit down meal is always nice and probably your only option in a restaurant, function centre type situation (restaurants do tend to frown upon people bringing their own food). If you are going the club/hall type scenario this maybe a cumbersome option.

Kids

No

The Entertainment

If you are an enormous conglomerate with a tremendous budget, then yes, there is a broad scope of entertainment options for you, for example, you could have Tom Jones singing Puccini, accompanied only by a harp, with fortune telling monkeys hanging by their feet from a trapeze while serving the champers. But if this is the case you can assemble your own high-end event management team, and don’t really need to be reading this post. However, for the rest of us, there are 6 basic options:

  • While I know I am biased I am not a big fan of the jukebox. They are not much cheaper than a dj, have a limited range of music and people will spend all night turning it off to erase the rubbish songs the person before them selected, only to choose another twenty rubbish songs, only to have them deleted as well. If you hire a jukebox you will probably never hear a single song you request, and God help you if you hire one with a microphone. The one thing I will say though is they do have a flat rate, so if you are having a party marathon (7 hrs plus) it may be more cost effective option. Though as I have said in past posts what is your saving costing you.

  • A DJin my completely nonobjective opinion is a great option, reasonably priced, large selection and can easily change from one genre to another if it is not working for your group. Yes, I know you have be burned before by unprofessional DJs, but just because some are unprofessional does not mean. For example, I’m not rubbish, I’m awesome. Maybe visit my post on Barriers to Great Entertainment to avoid falling in this trap.

  • I know I am meant to love Karaoke, and I do, I really do, but I don’t think it is a great option for your Work Function. There I said it. Karaoke will interrupt your flow, you may have everyone up dancing and having a great time and someone wants to sing a ballad. It kind of creates an uncomfortable stop-start effect to the evening. People don’t like to be up and down and if they have to decide between that and sitting bored in the corner they will choose bored in the corner.It is also a great opportunity to for people to make a drunken fool of themselves in front of their colleagues. And not in a fun, office clown having a go and everyone laughing with him kind of way, but an awkward, ‘oh look my normally reserved manager is drunk and singing really badly but seems to think she is fabulous and now won’t give the microphone back’ kind , I have seen it before, and trust me, it ain’t pretty.

  • I love a live band. It is very rare to hear a real drum kit these days. Having said that, a live band is expensive and a lot of smaller venues will not allow you to have them due to the noise. You may also find it difficult to find a style that will suit your mixed group.

  • A solo artist. This can be a nice intimate option. Great in restaurants and smaller venues where space is an issue. Someone like Klassic Blak is professional and has been around for a long time (Was that a shameless plug? Perhaps, but what can I say, they are fantastic!) catering to Weddings and Corporate Functions.

  • A duo is like a band, but quieter, and less expensive and may be more inclined to cater to a varied audience.

Speeches

Yes please. Thank everyone for a great year and their contribution, it will make them feel nice.

Remember you are not speaking at a work meeting, so keep it positive, and clear and concise (that’s a nice way of saying short) is a great idea for any occassion.

Speeches should be done as soon as the meal is over, don’t procrastinate, the longer it takes till you start, the longer your guests are waiting to party.

Make sure you know who is and isn’t planning on saying something. And then get it out of the way. Do not start the music and then decide that someone else should say a few words. Once the music starts, the speeches are over.

Include Everybody

Make sure that where possible, you choose a day where the business is closed (yes I know there is no such thing for some of you). Don’t ask staff to drive the bus or stay and clean up. There is nothing worse than feeling like you are the one employee who is not valued enough to be included in a night out.

Now, I make no promises here, someone will probably drink too much, someone else will probably hit on someone they probably should not. But if you follow this plan, you have done everything in your power to give everyone a great night, and that is all you can be asked to do.

You have worked hard all year and organised an awesome party to boot, so kick back relax and drink in the compliments for pulling off the best party ever.

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