Modern workplace
9 min read

How to plan a last-minute office Christmas party: A checklist for busy managers

We snow there are a million ways to plan an office Christmas party. ❄️ However, we're going to focus on the setbacks that arise when your time and budget are limited. So, without further ado, let’s dive right in!

Woman covering her face with santa hat

Pun alert! Throughout this post, you'll find some Christmas quips to help you minimize the stress of planning. Happy Holidays! 🧝

We're in the home stretch of Q4. And with so many things to line up before the year is out, we gather that the office Christmas party was at the bottom of your priorities, right?

Well, no need to Claus a scene! 🎅

You're still in time to plan a memorable Christmas bash for your team in a jiffy. 

And since we don't want Santa to leave coal in your stocking, we have prepared a checklist to help you get this party started.

Chalking out your office Christmas party

Planning a party of this scale can be tree-mendously challenging. 🌲

Especially in a startup that is constantly growing and has a remote/hybrid work policy. 

Nevertheless, you must remember that you are not alone in this. 

Just as Santa has his elves to lend a hand, you must rely on the members of your social committee to make this party a success.

Your company doesn't have a committee yet? Oh, deer! 🦌

Well, now is the perfect time to set up one!

Here’s the ultimate to-do list you should follow to plan your last-minute office Christmas party:

1. Call in your company's social committee

As the saying goes, two heads are better than one. And this is no exception!

Your social committee should be made up of people who possess the following qualities:

  • creativity 

  • problem solving

  • attention to detail

  • organization skills

  • adaptability

  • good time management 

  • accountability

Previous experience in event management is DEFINITELY a plus!
When recruiting people for your committee, it is always useful to have members from different teams within your company. 


Each team is different. 

And being able to interact with others' personalities will broaden your horizons. 

Rely on your team to help you think of quick solutions to problems that you may perceive as impossible.

2. Addressing the elf-phant in the room: Your budget

Parties are social events where people usually make it rein. 🎠

But unless you have a budget surplus, the smart thing to do is to allocate your resources cautiously and creatively.

What should be included in your office Christmas party budget?

1. Confirmed number of guests

Keep in mind that not everyone you invite will attend the party. 

There are even less possibilities when the invitation is last minute! 

So, be sure to:

  1. survey how many people will attend, 

  2. ask them to RSVP (répondez s'il vous plaît) asap, 

  3. start planning based on your confirmed number.

IMPORTANT! If your budget is tight, we recommend you make it clear that your employees won't be able to bring a plus-one.

2. Venue

Now that your number of attendees is confirmed, it's time to find a venue that fits the size and price range you are looking for. 

Reality check: It's not easy to find a venue last-minute that is affordable, stylish, and in an unbeatable location. 

That being said, you will have to get creative to plan accordingly.

Here are some ideas:

  • Ask around if anyone knows of a venue suitable for the number of people planning to attend.

  • If not many guests will attend, it might be a good option to meet on-site for a small shindig.

  • If your office is located in a co-working space, ask the building managers if there is any space that is still available for you to use. 

Who knows, you may get lucky and there’s a date or time slot you can be squeezed in.

3. Food and drink options

Now it’s time to make ends meat. 🍖

Again, this will depend entirely on your budget, but here are some ideas that can help you have some variety in your office Christmas party menu:

  • To make the food selection less overwhelming for you and your guests, narrow it down to 2 to 3 dish selections/suggestions.

  • If there is not enough money to cover everyone's entree preferences, and you decide to have a small gathering onsite, everyone can bring a small dessert to share and you can offer the drinks.

  • Some companies prefer to leave all this hassle to restaurants. When a small business has no more than 50 employees it is feasible to have an office Christmas brunch in a buffet restaurant. This way you pay a fixed price per person.

Other items that can be included in your budget are:

  • gift cards

  • decorations

  • tableware 

    people toasting in an office party

Light up your party with some Christmas games or fun activities

Surely you have attended parties where the fun factor is conspicuous by its absence. 

Well, this won't be the case.

These games, besides being fun, are a perfect team building dynamic, which you can alternate with the typical Secret Santa Gift Exchange.

Here are some fun options for games and activities that will delight your entire team.

1. Left Right Christmas Game

For this game, you can ask your team to bring a recycled gift from home. 

You guests will sit in a circle while someone reads a Christmas story.

Every time the words 'left' or 'right' are mentioned, everyone will have to pass their gift to the indicated side. At the end of the story, everyone gets to keep the gift they were holding at that moment..

2. Mad Lib Theatre

In this game, participants act in a super fun play in which they have to act out/improvise a half-baked script.

In order to develop the play, hey have to fill out the blanks in the script (with a help of a moderator) with random verbs, adjectives, adverbs etc.

The catch is that they won't know what the story is about until they start reading the script with the words they chose.

The best set of actors will be voted by rounds of applause, and you can reward the winners with gift cards or an invitation to lunch with members of their team.

3. Blind Christmas Tree

This is by far one of the most entertaining Christmas games to play with your team. 

The rules are very straightforward; you have to provide your team with enough material to assemble a Christmas tree in record time while wearing a blindfold.

The team who ends up with the most creative tree wins.

You can adapt the rules of the game as you see fit.

4. Party Photo Booth 

A great asset to your party is to have a party photo booth, where your team can take fun props and costumes out of a box for instant photos.

You will have to think carefully about this option because: 

1) Renting these booths can cost from €400 to €750 per day.

2) If your team is new and there hasn’t  been any previous social activities yet, there may be reluctance to participate in this dynamic.

We suggest that, before going for this option, you run a small survey to know for sure if this is something your team will enjoy.

Cheaper Alternative

Instead of renting the photo booth, you can use any digital camera or cell phone to take the photos and upload them to a shared company folder.

They can take the photos from here to share on social media.

Virtual (Zoom) Christmas Party

Almost forgot about your remote team? How rude-olf of you! 🫢

Keep in mind that there will be people in your organization that won't be able to attend your event. 

Therefore, you can organize a small virtual party days after your on-site party.

But, how do I feed the crowd? You may ask.

Easy! Follow these steps:

  1. Set a budget on your Pliant virtual corporate credit card.

  2. Ask your team to order their favorite meal from an app or a restaurant that issues invoices.

  3. Your team can enjoy their dinner or snack while on the video call. 

There are hundreds of virtual games that you can play with your remote team, click here to check them out.

Finishing Touches 

Now that you have everything ready for your virtual and onsite Christmas office party, it's time to:

  1. Send out invitations: We suggest that you send a placeholder to your team's calendars and keep them informed of changes or updates to events.

  2. Spreadsheet: There is nothing more satisfying than crossing completed items off a list. Therefore, it is ideal to keep a record of everything you and your team will be taking care of for the organization of this event in a shared spreadsheet.

  3. Invoicing: It goes without saying that it is important to keep track of all invoices. Therefore, make sure you get services from vendors that can provide proper invoices.

    Also, it is paramount that you have a fine-tuned invoice management system in place. 

If your company doesn't have one, we got your back. Book a demo now!

We hope these tips will help you plan your office Christmas party at lightning speed and successfully. 

That’s a wrap! 🎁

Duline is an SEO writer and content strategist with several years' experience blogging on topics related to eCommerce, marketing, education, travel, and finance.