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The holiday season is quickly sneaking up on us, so let the party planning begin now. Numerous details must fall into place, including the little things that partygoers hardly notice (if they are done well!).

This year, think strategically. What do you want to achieve? Is the main focus to show guests a good time, or will it be multi-faceted, featuring employee recognition, accomplishments or a guest speaker? Let your objectives be your guide.

Contemporary holiday parties may include:

  • Entertaining employees
  • Entertaining clients or special guests
  • Team-building
  • Encouraging socializing
  • Recognizing employees, partners or accomplishments
  • Incorporating a charitable component

Planning a successful holiday office party can feel overwhelming at times, but the experts at University of Delaware (UD) Conference Services offer these five valuable tips.

1. Budget the basics

What can you achieve within your budget? You can spend a lot and maintain an air of modesty just as you can spend modestly on some level of formality. From modest to generous budgets, you can accomplish your objectives within your means by getting guidance from venue staff to set the right tone, plan the space and select appropriate amenities. University of Delaware Conference Services has a variety of unique venues in Wilmington, Newark and Lewes, along with experienced professionals who help you work through the details of your event planning.

2. Set the tone

Consider how you want guests to feel and what the vibe will be. Establish this with your invitation style. Guests will also appreciate being given a clue as to how to come dressed, from “business casual” to “black tie” formal. Talk to your event manager about entertainment and audiovisual needs for music, a slideshow or a guest speaker, along with lighting and décor—components that essentially set the mood.

3. Determine the guest list

Size matters! A large event can be lively and create opportunities for people who don’t normally interact at work to meet and mingle. In this case, combine smaller work groups or business units to create one large gathering. On the other hand, a small party allows coworkers a chance to leave the “shop talk” behind and get to know each other on a social level. For this kind of atmosphere, divide up a large workforce into smaller, more intimate gatherings.

4. Make it special

Everyone has many holiday parties to attend, so you want yours to make an impression. Have the boss or another high-level employee greet guests and guide them through phases of the event, right up to thanking everyone for coming. This will personalize your event and make it more memorable.

5. Serve a signature cocktail

Should you choose to offer alcohol, the budget and style of your event might call for an open bar, cash bar or regular bar limited to wine, beer and soda. One popular trend is to serve a signature cocktail (which can also be made non-alcoholic) to support a theme or add a bit of fun to the party.

Whether your holiday party is purely for entertainment or something more strategic, let your objectives shape the event, and then rely on an expert to handle all the details. University of Delaware Conference Services offers unparalleled service by expert event planners at unique venues throughout Delaware to ensure your event runs just as planned.

The University of Delaware has conference venues in Newark (the site of the main campus), Wilmington and Lewes, and each location has its own personality. Venues include a modern, 40,000-square-foot conference center with a ballroom and theater-style auditorium, a historic mansion, a warm and inviting hall with 19,000 square feet of meeting space, and a coastal retreat center.


University of Delaware Conference Venues

Clayton Hall Conference Center
100 David Hollowell Drive
Newark, Del., 19716

Goodstay Center and Arsht Hall
University of Delaware
2600-2800 Pennsylvania Ave.
Wilmington, Del., 19806

Virden Retreat Center
University of Delaware
700 Pilottown Road
Lewes, Del., 19958