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How to plan an office party
S Lakshmi Chopra
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April 22, 2006

An office party is as traditional an institution as turkey and trimmings during Christmas. Even the most inactive of ears in the office will perk up at the mention of an office party. But the fun can really turn sour if it is not well-planned!

Each minute of entertainment could be matched with a frustrated phone call or a manic menu. Have you ever noticed the office angel who miraculously arranges the much-awaited annual knees-up?

Perhaps we never think about the face behind the festivities until we have a reason to complain.

Good hosting calls for responsibility. Here are some tips that will help you host a party that your colleagues will talk about for years to come.

To begin with, if you are lucky enough to have a generous budget, then you could simply hand it over to a specialist organising company; this could take away most of the stress involved. If not, prepare yourself to listen to - "the music was cheesy", "the food was good", "there was much more dancing to be done", and so on.

A lot of these comments can be pre-empted in the organisation process. Prepare your guestlist meticulously (try not to invite the Big Bosses, they may just spoil the fun!).

Having worked out a budget, adapt your party to what you can afford. Choose an appropriate venue. A lavish spread in a cost-effective venue (cajole a colleague to offer his or her place) may appeal more to your fellow-workers than a mean party in an upmarket hotel.

Once you have chosen the venue, pick a date and let everyone know in advance. Especially if your party is to fall on a weekend, for people like to book their Saturday and Sunday evenings for family and friends' get-togethers.

Sort out what kind of entertainment you want to have, if any. Are you hiring a disco? Will you play silly party games? Or are you going to have karaoke? Considering it is a low-budget party, you could let the host take the onus of arranging the music.

Now for the most-awaited aspect - chalk out a menu for both beverages and food. It's a good idea to serve food with drinks, which will ensure that people do not get completely drunk. And if you are holding the party at your own house, make sure you have ordered the food in advance. You are generally advised to stick to buffet-style food.

Designate a bartender who can serve your guests and keep an eye on how much everyone is drinking (no personal bartenders, please!). This way, the bartender can also keep track of how much someone has had to drink, and keep him in check if he's had too much.

This will also help you plan for the next party so that you don't end up stocking booze, especially if you are a teetotaler. If you have set a limit on the amount of booze, then make sure people know about it in advance so that if the drink runs out half-way through the evening, there are no dark mutterings about how mean you are.

Make non-alcoholic beverages available for your guests as well. Not everyone likes to drink, and some are underage. Some people out there think alcohol will ruin a good time, while others feel it will enhance it.

And, finally, if you are shipping people into the middle of nowhere, then make sure they get home safely. Once again, a lot of cajoling and coaxing works - make sure in advance who is going with whom. Ensure every guest has a designated driver taking him or her back home safely.

Cocktail parties can be a lot of fun. Getting together with friends, hanging out, drinking your favourite drinks, talking about your old colleagues, pulling each others' legs, just seem to go together. But, never forget to watch out for the party pooper. These are the type of individuals that usually cause trouble in a rather lively party.

Also, keep speeches, if any, VERY short! But no-one said it was easy. Good luck - and let's hope your party's a success!

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