As the holidays approach, our minds are cluttered with the many upcoming things we have on our to-do list.  Likely included on that list are holiday gift shopping, decorating, traveling to see friends or family, celebrating at the many get-togethers you will be invited to and the numerous other events and tasks that come along with the holidays.  While many of these are fun and things we look forward to, they are also time consuming and it’s not long before the entire holiday schedule has been completely booked up.  However, if you own a business, you need to make sure you are reserving enough time to plan a very important holiday event—your office holiday party.

Some business owners make the mistake of thinking that hosting a holiday party for their employees is not all that important.  After all, everyone else is just as busy as you are, wouldn’t it just be easier on everyone if they had one less thing to attend?  However, this is the wrong mind-set as your employees likely view the yearly holiday party as a way of you showing them they are appreciated.  Even if you try to appreciate them throughout the year in other ways, canceling the holiday party for the year is unfortunately sending the message that they don’t matter enough to host one.

Your holiday party does not have to be extravagant and it does not have to take hours upon hours to plan.  To show your appreciation to your employees, you must simply plan something that everyone will be able to gather at and enjoy each other’s company.
Whether you plan to host a lavish or modest holiday party this year, keep these points in mind:

–Be as generous as your budget allows. Employees have worked hard for you all year and they are looking for a show of appreciation.  However, if you’re company has had a tough year, you might think about making the event more low-key as your employees might wonder why none of them got raises and yet you could have a huge, extravagant blow-out event at the end of the year.

–Think about hiring entertainers to help break the ice. It can be a band, a DJ a magician, a local choral group or anything else which can cover for those awkward silences which are bound to occur at the beginning of the party.  Another great idea is to have a photo booth at your event.  You can rent a photo booth and have it onsite so your employees can have a ball getting in and taking goofy shots.  Not only will this be great entertainment for your employees, but they will also get to take home some fun keepsakes in the forms of photos!

–Have enough food. A hungry stomach leads to a cranky employee.  If there is one thing your guests will probably be talking about once the event is over, it will likely be the food!  Depending on the number of guests you have, your location and your budget, the food might come from a number of different sources (caterers, the location itself might serve food or you might even decide to do the food yourself if this is one of your strengths).  The important thing to remember is that you need to have enough and it needs to be of good quality.

–If you will have alcohol at the event, plan ahead.  The last thing you want is for one of your employees to have an accident or be picked up by the police after your party.  If there’s going to be drinking at the event, be safe.  Have a cab company’s number handy or, better yet, have a couple of people on hand who won’t be drinking and will be able to give rides home for those who need it.  If you really want a fancy event, think about having a limo pick everyone up for the party and drop them off afterward.
–Hire a professional party planner if you’re planning a big event instead of wasting your staff’s time.  A party planner has all the right connections in the area and should be able to plan your party more effectively, efficiently and successfully than you or your employees can.

Andy Wilson with Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar reiterates, “Holiday parties can be really beneficial to a business for boosting morale and showing appreciation to employees after a long year of working hard.  Holiday parties are different from other events because the companies that do them usually understand the value of a great employee and they spend a little more money on them to show their appreciation.”  Wilson goes on to list the value of having your party at a restaurant like his.  “Fleming’s has a full time party planner who is dedicated to planning every event all year long, and they are really a big help in the holiday season to get things set up and make sure your event goes seamlessly.  All a business owners needs to do is find a date they want to make reservations and we take care of the rest.  We have private rooms so the event can take place uninterrupted and the service is flawless every time for the perfect event.”

Another great option for your holiday party is Fuddruckers. Fuddruckers can cater both large and small holiday parties and provides a variety of menu options for your party. Delicious options from Fuddruckers’ catering service include their World Famous Hamburgers, Build Your Own Burger Bar, Exotic Burger Parties as well as salads and appetizers. All Parties on/off site include a fresh baked cookie for dessert for each guest.  Fuddruckers’ customizability will lend itself well to however you choose to celebrate the end of the year. You can host your event in their party rooms or they can come to your venue and even cook for you on-site.

For small gatherings, consider locally owned and operate Café Annie’s for your event.  With its casual atmosphere, friendly staff and wonderful food, Café Annie’s provides a wonderful location for a low-key private party or they can cater to your off-site holiday party.  The team at Café Annie’s works hard to work with local vendors to provide the freshest food options and has a wonderful, cozy environment that your guests are sure to love.

Baja Grill is also ideal for a smaller event.  Baja Grill has a quiet and comfortable dining area as well as a larger room that can hold up to 50 people with a big screen projector for slide shows and presentations and the option of a catered meal for larger parties.  Excellent menu choices are enchilada, taco and nacho bars for larger parties that are kept heated and fresh in chafers and catered pans so your guests can eat throughout the event.

Holidays at the Archdiocesan Retreat & Conference Center (ARCC) are a special time.  “Treat yourself and your guests to a memorable experience combining the special memories and joys that bring the holidays to life,” says Gary Bosanek with ARCC.  “Leave the hustle and bustle of the season behind and come into the warmth of our festive traditional setting in a non-traditional space, great for office and private functions complete with the smell of hot spiced cider, mulled wine, and candy cane cocoa – a treat for all ages.  Let our staff help you create a magical event in our beautifully decorated grand halls.  We can arrange for catering from a cocktail buffet to a dessert extravaganza to a full sit-down formal dinner with all the trimmings.  Breakfast, lunch or dinner for 15 to 150 is our specialty.  Let us and our in-house caterer (Pleasure Your Palate Catering) create a special menu for your event.”

“Looking for something different?” Gary Bosanek continues.  “What about an overnight gathering for a destination holiday event?  The facility would be yours alone for the entire duration of your occasion.  We can arrange for flowers or a DJ or let us help you with entertainment from Dickens carolers, balloon artists, Father Christmas or St. Nicholas to Santa and Mrs. Claus, elves and more provided by S.Claus & His Holiday Friends.  We offer many rental packages to make yours the best holiday celebration.  The ARCC is located near historic Benson, in close proximity to downtown Omaha and the interstate.  The Archdiocesan Retreat & Conference Center (ARCC) is committed to excellent service.  Let our staff help you create a magical event without breaking the bank.”

Brandeis is another excellent option as it offers four venues in Omaha for your special event.  The Tip Top Building at 1502 Cuming Street offers an Executive Ballroom for up to 30 people, a Junior Ballroom for up to 120 people and a Grand Ballroom for up to 700 people.

Tip Top Building
is located north of downtown in the new “NoDo” area of Omaha that is the new home for the CWS Baseball Stadium.

The Georgetowne Club, located at 2440 S. 141st Circle, offers a ballroom that accommodates up to 600 guests and is a beautiful and versatile facility to accommodate the most elegant event.  Elegant décor, fireplaces and plenty of parking makeThe Georgetowne Club the upscale facility you can be proud to invite your guests to.

The Thompson Center at UNO, on the SW Corner of 67th and Dodge on the UNO Campus, has space for up to 300+ guests with a beautiful outside green space with patio.

Finally, The Livestock Exchange Building, on 4920 S. 30th Street, has 10th floor ballrooms which can accommodate 150-250 people or 250-350 people.  The two magnificent ballrooms have 22-foot ceilings and an elegant Romanesque and Northern Italian Renaissance Revival style.

The Lied Lodge and Conference Center in Nebraska City is also the perfect option for your event, especially if you want to get out of town.  The Lodge is located on 26-acre Arbor Day Farm and will inspire your guests and employees with timbered rooms, exceptional guest service and award winning food, all in a natural setting.  The Lied Lodge and Conference Center has 14,000 square feet of adjustable meeting and banquet space, a highly trained staff, on-site audio-visual equipment and support, an airport shuttle service from Omaha and is committed to sustainability and tress planting.

For a final suggestion, consider Millard Plaza Ballroom, located at 5339 S. 139th Street in Omaha.  The Ballroom offers a spacious floor plan including a large dance floor perfect for any type of entertainment, speaker or display.  They can also create an intimate space for small groups.  With Millard Plaza Ballroom, you will have exclusive use of their facility with a guaranteed price as well as a large, well-lit parking lot for your guests.  The Ballroom also offers their clients menu planning, beverage service, banquet staff, setup/takedown, decorating and more.

If you don’t want to have your party at a ballroom or a restaurant, you might want to consider having a more intimate gathering at your home.  Having a holiday party in your home is good for small gatherings, usually not more than 20 people.  This is a great way to strengthen your relationships with your employees as you are inviting them (and possibly their families) to your home and have them meet your family.  If you like entertaining, you can decorate and cook yourself, or if you’d rather just enjoy yourself and mingle with your employees, you can bring in professionals to cater and decorate for you.  Another good idea if you don’t have much of a budget is to have a pot luck.  Ask each employee to bring a side item, dessert or main dish and you can all taste each other’s favorite holiday dishes.  For entertainment, you can still bring in a speaker, carolers or other traditional holiday entertainment, or you can just make it about getting to know each other better and hanging out in a non-work setting.

Remember, if you are having guests to your home and are serving alcohol, you are responsible if anyone has an accident.  Make your party a safe one and plan on having rides home for anyone who needs them.  Since this will likely be a more intimate event, you could consider having someone picking all of your guests up before the event and dropping them off afterward (if you have a child in the house who has his or her driver’s license, this is an excellent job for them) or you can work with a limo company to provide rides for the evening.  This allows your guests to relax and enjoy themselves without having to worry about driving and also lets you relax as you know that everyone will be getting home safely!

If you’re having your holiday party at a location that doesn’t normally host parties, you might have to look into renting equipment.  “A typical holiday party for a customer would involve tables, chairs, table cloths and sometimes dishes, glasses and silverware,” says Chris St. Pierre with PartyTime Rentals.  “If it’s a larger corporate event, they also sometimes get catering equipment like chaffers and hot boxes and sometimes even a tent if their facility is not big enough.”  If you are looking to rent equipment for your event, you should think about ordering it in mid to late October or you run the risk of rental companies running out of the equipment you want to rent.

Remember, the holidays are a time to show those you care about how much they mean to you, and this certainly should include your employees!! Whether your party is going to be a small, intimate gathering for 10 or 15 or a huge gala event for 300 plus, make sure you are planning early to take the stress off as the holidays approach and to make sure you get first choice of your location, caterer, entertainment and more!