event planner: Ink Events & Design | photographer: 2me Studios
The Best of | Corporate Event

12 Essential Steps for Planning an Epic Corporate Party This Holiday Season

You know the saying, “All work and no play makes Jack a Dull Boy.” For corporations, the holidays are the perfect time to celebrate staff and the successes of the last business year — as well as promote the company’s brand. Ink Events & Design, formerly Geffen Events, tells us that consumer-inclusive corporate holiday parties are becoming increasingly high-budget and creative. With that in mind, we’ve come up with 12 essential steps for planning an unforgettable corporate holiday party. From hiring an event planner to choosing show-stopping entertainment, we’re here to get you in the holiday spirit.

1) Hire an Event Planner

Vontobel Holiday party with banquet seating | PartySlate
photographer: Travis W Keyes Photography

Any epic celebration begins with finding the right event planner. A premier event planner goes far beyond finding event professionals and organizing logistics. Top event planners are visionaries and magic-makers, seeing the forest for the trees without sacrificing any of the smallest details. For this Vontobel holiday party at Ziegfeld Ballroom, event planner Eventsful, Inc. created an awe-inspiring celebration from start to finish. In addition to the gorgeous and glittering décor by Ed Libby & Company, sumptuous catering and live entertainment wowed guests at every turn. Additionally, party-goers enjoyed unique activities such as poker games and an on-site poet. 

2) Select the Perfect Venue

Aspire One World Observatory with purple uplighting and twinkling lights | PartySlate
photograph courtesy of ASPIRE at One World Observatory

“Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow,” this holiday season. With the right indoor venue (and view), hosts won’t mind some blustery winter weather. This Mercedes corporate holiday party at ASPIRE One World Observatory took advantage of the floor-to-ceiling windows to reflect all the twinkling holiday décor. Whether you opt to host your celebration in a hotel ballroom or stylish restaurant, consider what services and amenities are included with the venue. We especially love how the catering team at ASPIRE styled each place setting with on-theme garnishes for additional holiday cheer. 

3) Find an Esteemed Photographer

Woman dressed as butterfly with pink up-lit wings | PartySlate
photographer: Cage and Aquarium

There are plenty of reasons to hire an experienced photographer for your corporate holiday party. In addition to cherishing the memories for years to come, photographs are the perfect way to promote your business in the digital age. While anyone can take a photo on their Smartphone and share it with social media, a professional photographer will create a premier product that’s as inspiring as your company itself. We love how Cage and Aquarium captures the fleeting and ethereal moments — especially with an eye to branding — at this Zillow Group holiday party hosted at de Young Museum

4) Pin Down a Style & Select Creative Elements

Photo backdrop of vintage car and giant bags of money | PartySlate
photographer: Osh Images

Yes, it’s the holidays — meaning snowmen, pine cones, and lots of twinkling lights. But that doesn’t mean that you have to limit your imagination when it comes to selecting a style or creative elements. Tinsel Experiential created on-theme design and décor for this IP Soft holiday party that took place at Weylin, the former Williamsburg Savings Bank. Catering partner Pinch Food Designs dressed their servers as masked burglars, while food stations resembled teller stations. We especially love the walk-in bank vault photo booth complete with loose jewels and gold coin props. Of course, the holidays weren’t completely forgotten. Oversized ornaments decked the halls for a glamorous (and festive) effect.

5) Create On-Theme Branding and Signage

Personalized ice sculpture for RNA | PartySlate
photographer: Kari Otero Photography

Holiday celebrations are the perfect opportunity to promote your company with creative branding and signage. Companies are increasingly coming up with innovative ways to get their name out there — think custom-branded cocktails, neon signage, and printed upholstery. In the case of this RNA holiday fête planned by Florie Huppert Design, branding perfectly matched the Après-Ski theme with a life-sized ice sculpture by OKAMOTO STUDIO Custom Ice. Custom-printed napkins and t-shirts added additional opportunities for promotion. Of course, with a mechanical snowboard activity station and ski-themed arcade games, guests were sharing their photos on social media and doing a little promoting of their own.

6) Choose the Evening’s Entertainment

Female aerialist suspended from ceiling | PartySlate
photographer: SPiN, Chicago

Your hard-working employees will love the chance to relax and enjoy the entertainment. Hosts have several options when it comes to selecting high-quality entertainment. DJs or live bands are always a hit at any corporate holiday event. SPiN, Chicago turned up the volume at their holiday party with an aerialist act by The Actors Gymnasium. Additionally, a possessed-doll contortionist wowed guests with a spectacular circus performance. Just remember, there’s no such thing as too much entertainment. As we like to say at PartySlate, “Work hard, play hard.”

7) Decide on Interactive Activities

Edible crepes of projected smartphone selfies | PartySlate
photography: Travis W Keyes Photography

Celebrations are the perfect excuse to bring people together, and interactive activities get guests socializing like nothing else. Creative Games Inc combined these two party essentials — photo ops and delicious treats — at this Vontobel holiday party. At one activity station, guests could take selfies and watch their image transform into an edible crepe — talk about picture-perfect food presentation. Other unique entertainment included a poker booth and an onsite poet. Event planner Eventsful, Inc. made sure to include high-energy live music by Chevy Chevis Entertainment for some traditional fun on the dance floor as well.

8) Enlist a Caterer for Delicious Bites

Food cart in snowy, winter scene | PartySlate
photo courtesy of Trucked Up Catering

Between dancing and socializing, guests will need to refuel. While many venues provide their own fantastic catering services, bringing in an additional outsider caterer adds variety and creativity to the dining experience. Catering services continue to evolve, offering everything from molecular gastronomy to food trucks. This food truck provided by Trucked Up Catering proves that winter weather is no reason to shy away from innovative catering opportunities. We especially love the photo ops that come with such unique experiences.

9) Add to the Festivities with the Right Bar Setup

cropped photo of hand pouring a glass of white wine | PartySlate
photo courtesy of G Texas Catering

With a successful year under wraps and the New Year approaching, there are plenty of reasons to give a toast. In addition to offering guests a meal or passed bites, keep the glass half-full with a top-notch bar service. G Texas Catering elevated this corporate holiday celebration with artisanal wines and craft-cocktails. Bar services are also a great way to contribute to the celebration’s décor. We love how a cranberry garnish complimented the crimson floral centerpieces by Bella Acento

10) Sweeten the Celebration with Dessert Stations

Desert station of cookies, donuts, and milk | PartySlate
photo courtesy of Elegant Affairs Caterers

A meal isn’t complete without dessert — especially around the holidays. Your guests will love an opportunity to indulge their sweet tooth with various dessert stations. Think beyond just slices of cake. Elegant Affairs Caterers wowed guests at this corporate holiday party with a new twist on cookies and milk. For the guests having too good of a time on the dance floor to stop for treats — no need to worry. Costumed servers passed through the crowds, bringing the tray service with them.

11) Include Photo Ops

Guests interacting with iPad selfie station | PartySlate
photographer: Jared Ribic

If it’s not on Instagram, did it really happen? Make sure your guests have the opportunity to pose for photo ops at your next holiday party. At this 1990s-themed corporate celebration planned by Gravel Experiential, party-goers had plenty of opportunities to share their good times on social media. An iPad-based selfie station, designed by The SnapBar, kept guests smiling all night long. A video wall projected the photos, allowing participants to become part of the décor. Of course, don’t forget to bring props. Cut-out mixtapes and boomboxes were the perfect touch for this 90s extravaganza.

12) Choose Thoughtful Take-Home Gifts

crafting station for snow globes and holiday gift tags | PartySlate
photographer: Jim Vetter

Gift-giving is a cherished holiday tradition. Thank your employees and guests — and give them a sweet reminder of the celebration — with a take-home gift. At this Yelp holiday party at The Regency Center, captured by Jim Vetter Photography and Misti Layne, Entire Productions reinvented the party favor with an interactive crafting station. Guests became the artists behind their own keepsakes, creating gift tags and snow globes. Of course, with live ice sculpting, champagne aerial pours, and a ball-pit photo booth, guests had plenty of reasons to remember the celebration.