1-866-614-1900 200 Commercial St SE, Salem, OR 97301 DIRECTIONS

Holiday Party “Do’s and Don’ts”- Tips to Throw an Epic Company Event

Holiday Party “Do’s and Don’ts”- Tips to Throw an Epic Company Event

It’s hard to believe, but the holidays are just around the corner and the clock is ticking for those planning a special company sponsored event for employees, clients, family and friends.

Not only are holiday parties fun, they are are good for businesses. Thoughtful holiday parties tend to boost morale and company loyalty.  Clients and employees should leave the party feeling optimistic about their future with your company.

Our experienced event staff knows a thing or two about successful employee celebrations.

“The goal is to make your guests feel special and celebrate their accomplishments,” says Salem Convention Center’s Catering Manager Sarah Utterback.  “The general rule of thumb is to make your holiday party unique and special rather than big and boisterous. It’s the small details that can make your holiday party a true success”.


Whether you host your event with us or not, we want to help you plan and execute the best party ever.


Decide on a Budget, and Stick to it Throughout the ProcessYour budget is going to determine many of your key decisions like the type of event and the venue to host your party so you will want to get at least an idea of a budget settled before you begin the planning process.  Once this is in place, you can decide on the type of party you’ll be throwing. Will it be formal or informal?  Will it be a luncheon, dinner or reception? Large or small?  Will it be company-wide?  Are clients invited, too? Can guests bring a plus one? Will kids be invited or babysitting provided?

Book the Date & Venue as Early as Possible. Once you have determined your budget and the type of event you will be hosting, it’s time to search for your venue.  We advise selecting the date and venue for your event as far in advance as possible. This will help you to stay on track with your budget and secure party vendors, rentals, etc. Sarah Utterback advises not to book your event too close to the holidays since folks will be busy with travel plans, shopping, etc.  “Most organizations we work with schedule holiday parties to take place during the first or second week of December,” she says. “Fridays are generally the most common day of the week for holiday parties with Saturdays and Thursdays a close second.”

Seek Input from Your Staff.If the intention of your holiday party is to celebrate your employees and thank them for their hard work, perhaps you can ask for their input on what they would like to experience during the event?  What kinds of  food and music they would enjoy?  Do they have any creative suggestions for themes or activities for guests to enjoy?  Would they enjoy a formal or informal affair?  If it’s easier to let people vote, you can quickly create an online survey using Google Docs or check these other free online survey tools.

Choose a Fun Holiday Related Theme. This is not only fun to do, it will provide the foundation for the rest of the creative planning process like menu and decor.  Some fun themes we’ve seen in the past include Ugly Sweater Party (always a favorite), Winter Wonderland, Secret Santa, White Christmas, Murder Mystery and Candy Land.  We can’t wait to see what new themes our clients will come up with this year!

Holiday Events in Salem Oregon

Use an Event Planner. There is a reason why most companies use an event planner when throwing appreciation events for employees.  They want to get it right. Between the decor, the food, the set up, invitations, entertainment, etc. planning a company event like this is a tall order for one person. It’s always a great idea to seek the advice and assistance of an event planner, in fact their expertise is likely to help save you money in the long run.  Event planners also ensure that you can relax and enjoy the party. If you are hosting your holiday event at the Salem Convention Center, a member of our professional event planning staff will help guide you through each of the details- from menu selection to room layout to festive holiday décor and more!

Make it All About Your Employees & Clients. 
Above anything else, company holiday parties are appreciation events; therefore, it’s important to recognize the successes of your staff as a whole. Make every effort to communicate your appreciation for their hard work and contributions throughout the year.  Some organizations also incorporate annual employee recognition and awards into their holiday parties.
SCC Holiday Tree Lighting Salem Oregon

Add Unique Entertainment/Activities.  Adding unique elements like music, interactive food stations, games, a professional DJ, photo booths and caricature artists are a really fun way to keep your guests entertained and engaged during the party.   These special touches are also more likely to result in good conversations and great memories long after the party is over. “We’re seeing more events include smaller activities that lead to socializing rather than splashy entertainment.  It encourages guests to mingle about and have fun.

Boys and Girls Aid Salem


Forget Employee Gifts. Holiday parties are the ideal time to present a holiday gift or bonus to employees. Simple gift cards are usually the most common gift we see.

Skimp on the Food. Whether you are hosting a luncheon, a reception or sit down dinner- use a caterer. Trust us.  It makes such a difference and you don’t necessarily need to have a large budget to have a catered event.  “You don’t have to have a large budget to provide great food and drinks for your employees, ” says Sarah.  “Experienced caterers will know how to help companies get the most bang for their buck.  If a client’s budget is limited, they know to make the most of it by serving heavy appetizers and a variety of finger foods that require only a napkin or at most a small plate.” Our first class catering services will help make spirits bright by providing high quality cuisine from local farms to your event.

Over Do It. In recent years, we’ve noticed most companies are steering away from elaborate cooperate functions and they are hosting more personal gatherings centered around the employee appreciation instead. These simple affairs almost always feature tasteful holiday decor (think candles and greenery- not glitz and expensive arrangements), high quality of food and drink, and a host of fun activities for party goers rather than big-name entertainment. Gone are the days of over-the-top holiday parties (think pre-2008). Think quality over quantity and employee appreciation rather than showing off.

Neglect to Create an Agenda. We encourage you to leave room for fun and flexibility, but believe that your holiday party will go much smoother if you create an agenda ahead of time.  Have a general outline available so you can keep track of the timing for arrival, cocktails/appetizers, dinner/lunch, talking points, employee recognition, gift-giving, entertainment, and closure. It’s also a good idea to choose hosts and/or speakers in advance so they can prepare.

Neglect An Alcohol Policy. It’s perfectly fine and acceptable to serve alcohol at your holiday party, but it’s a good idea to encourage your guests to be responsible and limit alcohol consumption. The most common way that organizations limit alcohol consumption is by providing drink tickets — usually 2.

Searching for a Venue?
Whether your event is formal or informal, small or large, our event planning staff will help you plan an unforgettable holiday event in one of Salem Oregon’s premiere facilities.

Salem Convention Center Features:

  • Willamette Ballroom accommodating up to 900 guests
  • Santiam River Ballroom accommodating up to 650 guests
  • Extensive pre-function and reception areas
  • Complete on-site catering facilities and services
  • Delicious customized menus
  • Dedicated and attentive professional staff
  • Large dance floors and entertainment staging
  • Complete audio-visual services
  • Convenient Downtown Location
  • Complimentary on-site covered parking
  • Overnight lodging at the adjoining Grand Hotel

So leave the event planning worries to us and focus on celebrating the end of the year with your colleagues and friends! Get started by completing a Request for Proposal and we will respond back to you within 24 hours. You can also reach us at:1-866-614-1900 or email us at sales@salemconventioncenter.org.


Salem Convention Center Holiday Decor

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *