7 Tips for Planning an Epic Office Holiday Party on a Budget

by OutSnapped
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Office holiday parties can be a lot of fun, but they can also be expensive. Here are seven tips for planning an epic office holiday party on a budget!

Office parties can boost morale and teamwork in your workplace, so why not plan an office holiday party for your team?

Planning an office party can be overwhelming, especially if you're on a tight budget. How can you afford food, a venue, decorations, entertainment, and everything else you need to have a fun event?

We're here to talk about how you can plan a fun holiday office party without breaking the bank. Read on to learn more!

Know your budget
Know Your Budget

1. First: Know Your Budget

Before you can start planning any type of event on a budget, you have to know your budget. How much are you actually able to spend?

As an employer, the holiday party is your responsibility. You can ask for contributions from employees if you choose, but it may discourage employees from attending. We recommend making room in your overall work budget for the holiday office party and only planning within your means. 

There are a few things that you have to budget for. They include:

  • The venue (including decorations)
  • Food and drinks
  • Activities and entertainment
  • Holiday gifts (though this is optional)

Because this is an office party and not a much larger or more formal event, all of these things can be quite affordable, but you should still give yourself wiggle room in your budget. It's better to have money leftover. 


Dont bother with formal invitations
Dont Bother With Formal Invitations

2. Don't Bother With Formal Invitations

It used to be customary to send out formal invitations whenever there was an event happening, but especially for an office party, this is totally unnecessary. 

If your party is only for a small workplace, it's more than sufficient to make your rounds around the office and inform people verbally that there's a holiday party coming up. On top of this, send out an email to everyone in the office so they can easily put the event in their calendars. If your workplace spans several offices and everyone is invited, an email should be enough. 

You can also use Paperless Post to send out invitations online.

if you insist on sending out actual invitations, we recommend getting affordable empty holiday cards from your local big-box store. They make great invitations, though you may have to hand-write them. We recommend generic winter or holiday cards so you don't isolate anyone who may not celebrate your holiday of choice. 


Employees at a cool food truck
Employees at a cool food truck

3. Pick the Right Venue

Venues are tricky when you're on a budget. Again, because this is a smaller and less formal party, you don't need anything extravagant. It's likely that your party will also be smaller than the average large event, so having too much space would actually be detrimental. 

You have two primary options: your office or an outside venue. Here's how to work with both of them within your budget. 

At Your Workplace

Having the party at your workplace is obviously the most affordable option. You don't have to pay for a venue and you already have many of the things that you need at your disposal.

The primary venue expense, in this case, would be decorations (which you may also have to pay for at an outside venue). 

If you're planning on having your party at your workplace, make sure there's enough room. A small office isn't the best place for a holiday party.

Make sure there's room for food and potential entertainment and activities. You may have to move some furniture around. 

An Outside Venue

If you have some wiggle room in your budget, having the holiday party at an outside venue can be a lot of fun. Not all venues are going to be expensive, especially if you think outside of the box. 

You could consider local bars (though make sure no one at the office is uncomfortable at a bar). Bars are often more affordable to rent out for a few hours; if it's a quiet bar, you don't even have to do that. 

You could also plan a fun ground event, but these can sometimes be expensive. If your venue budget allows it, a trip to a local museum or arcade can be a lot of fun. You want the environment to be engaging.


Keep refreshments affordable
Keep Refreshments Affordable

4. Keep Refreshments Affordable

Speaking of bars, find a way to make refreshments suit your budget.

If you're at a bar or restaurant for your holiday party, you will likely have to stick with the food and drinks that the venue provides. This may be problematic if your budget is tight.

If you're at someone's home or staying in the office, we recommend having a potluck-style party. Everyone brings in some kind of food or drink for everyone to enjoy.

If this is the case, make sure that you'll have a wide enough variety of food and drinks before the party happens. You may want to split up employees between desserts and savory foods. 

It's customary for the host to provide non-alcoholic beverages. Alcoholic beverages can be expensive, so if you plan on having them, consider providing them as well if your employees are unable to contribute.

Certain common holiday beverages, like wine, hot apple cider, and eggnog can be affordable!

The best thing about having a potluck is that everyone has at least one thing they can eat at the party. This is great for anyone with dietary restrictions. 

You could also take advantage of one of New York's many food trucks. If you're lucky, your venue will have one conveniently nearby. If not, consider booking a food truck to come to you. 


Fun activities on a budget
Fun Activities on a Budget

5. Fun Activities on a Budget

Many employers just let their employees socialize at the holiday parties, but we recommend having some sort of entertainment or activities to do to keep everyone engaged. But how can you do that without spending a lot of money?

Here are three of our favorite ideas.

Party Games

Party games are fun, affordable (if not free), and great for encouraging communication. Bonus: they're also great for team building. 

You can spend a few dollars to get games like Giant Jenga and Cornhole which are great for casual competitive gameplay. Think about games that you commonly see in bars. 

You could also do fun free games, like trivia or "Who Am I?".

Looking for a unique way to celebrate the holidays with your coworkers? How about renting a photo or 360 degree video booth! These fun and festive booths will keep your guests entertained all night long. Contact us today to book your rental!

A Photo Booth

People love taking photos at parties! Encourage it by adding a photo booth to your office holiday party. 

You can get an affordable event photography session with FotoRover. This mobile photo "booth" has a bright ring light and both black and white, and color options. The photos go right to an online gallery!

FutureFoto is slightly more expensive, but you can get cool augmented reality photos, unlimited gifs, and more. It's compact enough to fit in even the smallest venues, so you don't have to worry about a bulky activity taking up valuable party space.

Or capture all the memories of your office holiday party with a 360 degree video booth! Fun and easy to use, our photo booths and 360 degree video booths will make your office holiday party one to remember!

Your employees can share these photos on their social media profiles or keep them as valuable memories. You can also use them in workplace newsletters. 

Employee Entertainment

This doesn't work for every office, but having employees volunteer to entertain is a great way to provide great entertainment on a budget while also highlighting the talents that your employees rarely get to show off!

Do you have any comedians in your workplace? What about musicians, magicians, or even ventriloquists? 

Consider asking around when you first announce the party to see if anyone wants to share their talents with the workplace! Quick tip: make sure their performance is workplace-appropriate. 


Make time for employee recognition
Make Time for Employee Recognition

6. Make Time for Employee Recognition

An important part of any holiday party is employee recognition. The party is at the end of the year, making it a great time to reflect on your employees' accomplishments. 

You can highlight specific employees who have excelled, but it's also a good idea to congratulate your entire team. You don't want anyone to feel left out because it could damage workplace morale. 


Do an affordable holiday gift exchange
Do an Affordable Holiday Gift Exchange

7. Do an Affordable Holiday Gift Exchange

Gift exchanges aren't mandatory, but they can be a lot of fun. Make sure to call it a "holiday" or "winter" gift exchange so you don't leave out anyone who may not celebrate Christmas. 

We recommend doing either a White Elephant exchange or secret Santa. This way, everyone who contributes a gift also gets a gift in return.

Make sure you tell your employees that this is an optional activity so no one has to spend money they can't afford to spend. We also recommend setting a budget of around $10 to $15. 

If your employees were having fun at the photo booths, consider gifting each of them a print of one of their photos to show appreciation. They'll love having a memento of the fun evening!


Have Fun at Your Office Holiday Party

You don't need a huge budget to have a successful office holiday party. Use these tips to plan a party that your employees will love without breaking the bank. 

Don't settle for a boring event!

Are you looking for a fantastic and fun photo booth for your next party in New York City? At Outsnapped, we've got you covered. Learn more about our photo booth rentals and get in touch with us today.

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