How to Throw a Company Holiday Party on a Budget

The Company Holiday Party is Back!

Back in December 2008, companies across the board were scaling back on holiday events.   Due to economic constraints companies chose to cancel them all together, deeming the celebrations needless or highly inappropriate in the wake of layoffs.  Now that the company holiday party is back it doesn’t mean your company needs to break the bank.  Here are some ideas for throwing a company holiday party on a budget.


SmartDraw Tip: To create an infographic you can start by navigating to the Infographic Category and leveraging the templates, data charts, or examples.  When I created this particular infographic I wasn’t able to find a Santa Clause like symbol within the library.  Instead, I used the Home Ribbon’s Shape control.  After combining two hearts, one rectangle, and circle I was able to create a Santa hat to add on top of my figure.  Click here to learn more about Infographics.

 7_santa hat

Have a Party Planning Committee

Of course it would be great to outsource all the planning and logistics to professional event planners – but that can get expensive.  Why not have a party planning committee?  Having a group of employees to organize and plan the company provides a sense of ownership, increases involvement, and keeps costs down.  Here’s a company holiday party planning check list to get you started.

6_Office Holiday Party Tasks

SmartDraw Tip: You can easily save this party planning check list as a template in SmartDraw.  Learn how in my previous post titled “How to Increase Productivity Using Custom Templates.”  In addition, if you find that there are certain individuals who are responsible for certain tasks each year you can save their names and those tasks that are assigned to them.  Simply enter their names into the Mind Map before saving it as a Custom Template.

Make Your Own Invitations

Sending an Outlook Meeting invitation to “all employees” is an inexpensive and cost efficient method yet it tends to be cold and impersonal.  It doesn’t convey the special nature of the event or occasion as well as a personalized, printed paper invitation.    Yet, there’s no need to go online and pay for professional printing and shipping.   Just add a pack of white card stock paper and envelopes to the next office supply order.  Then design your invitation and program in SmartDraw.  It’s that simple.


SmartDraw Tip:  Invitations set the theme for the event.   And when you create your invitations in SmartDraw, you can also create a whole suite of stationary including programs, place cards, gift tags, and signs.    The possibilities are endless.   When I created the invitation (above) I wanted it to be fun and festive.  The challenge was to find a fun and festive font.  Initially, none of the fonts were working.    Yet, when I decided to italicize the font it was exactly what I was looking for.

Consult Your Venue’s Event Coordinator

Many companies are now hosting smaller events within their respective departments or divisions opposed to company wide.   For example, here we have a private dining room reserved for a team awards dinner.  The agenda and the diagram (below) can be sent to the venue’s event coordinator.  You’re assigned event coordinator is a great resource.  They are often willing to work within any budget and can offer you some options.  In this case, hosting the event on a Wednesday or Thursday was less expensive than Friday.     Based on the diagram, the event coordinator is able to select the option that is best for the event and size of group.  All the decisions were made via email, opposed to an in-person meeting thus saving time for all involved.

7_restaurant floor plan options2

SmartDraw Tip:  Before selecting a venue it’s best to sample the food and visit the site.  Once the venue was selected, I quickly drafted a few floor plan designs.  With the robust symbol library, I simply clicked and dragged symbols into the work area.  Minutes later I emailed the diagram (above) to the venue’s event coordinator.  Click here to learn more about the Floor Plan Template.

Arrange Assigned Seating

Events such as a company holiday party is a perfect opportunity to break down barriers and encourage colleagues to mingle with one another.  Assigned seating eliminates the awkwardness as your guests prepare to sit for dinner and can make conversation flow smoothly during the holiday party.  If you’re unsure of the existing dynamics among certain individuals, you may choose to consult their respective managers.

place cards

SmartDraw Tip:  To ensure that each name can be easily read, I added a white transparent background.  To make a shape transparent, simply select the shape then navigate to the Fill menu found in the Home Ribbon.  Located below the Standard Colors section of the menu, you’ll find the Transparency options.  Select one of the options.  To learn more about Fill options, refer to the SmartDraw User Guide: Fundamentals for New Users.

Add Some Fun Into the Mix

It’s not uncommon for companies to host a Secret Santa or White Elephant gift exchange. For larger organizations, perhaps this is best left to a departmental level rather than a company wide event.  If you do choose to incorporate an activity, like a gift exchange, it’s important that everyone understands the rules.  Since we’ve chosen to modify the traditional rules of the game at our Holiday Party, I’ve included a flowchart diagram titled “How a Gift Becomes Frozen” with the instructions.


Here are the rules for our company’s Holiday Gift Exchange that was emailed to everyone in addition to printed invitations.  For a copy of the Gift Exchange Rules click here.

7_gift exchange rules

SmartDraw Tip:  I wasn’t able to find clip art of presents in the SmartDraw Library.  So, I created the presents using squares and triangles.  Once I created one, I simply added it to my SmartDraw Library as a Custom Symbol just like I would a Custom Template.  That made creating the next one a matter of clicking and dragging the symbols from the Library into the Work Area.  

7_present symbol

Host a Holiday Luncheon, Then Call it a Day

Typically, companies select evenings and weekends to host their holiday parties to allow for spouses or significant others to join in on the festivities.   A new approach to a holiday celebration is to host a holiday luncheon.   This keeps the cost down since lunch menus are less expensive and you get your choice of high demand venues.   In addition, you may choose to allow your employees to have the afternoon off.  Sometimes that’s the only gift they really want.  It’s a win-win.  You have a lower cost holiday party, a festive celebration, and an afternoon away from work to spend with family or finish up some holiday shopping.

Click here for your FREE SmartDraw Holiday Party Planning Kit

Simply download the kit, open the file, and the “Holiday Party Planning Kit” will automatically appear in your Custom Categories folder in SmartDraw.  You’ll have all the source files of the diagrams in this blog.  Edit the diagrams and you’ve got your party planning started for you.