Let me start this off by saying, I realize I am not normal. I actually love office gatherings. I honestly like to see people out of their typical ho-hum daily routine, snazzied up and letting loose a little bit. It’s when you learn your co-workers are actually interesting people. Not to say that I don’t think mine are interesting, but alcohol always loosens people up (fact) just enough to let you learn about their passion for travel or L.A.R.P.ing (for example). Thing is, the moons have to really line up at an office party for conversation to go down a road that actually stimulates all parties involved. Because, no, I don’t want to talk about your 401k plan or how traffic on Tuesdays has been excessive lately …but, when the music is good, the alcohol is premium, and the boss is on the other side of the room, all the sudden your co-worker stops being the waste management Nazi in the office to someone who is actually ……INTERESTING and (bonus) FUNNY. Our own office pleasantries went off-color years ago (Thank God) and I actually enjoy being with my co-workers on and after hours. I know I am lucky though. Many of you are already dreading the Holiday Office Party with this year’s theme of “Forced Fun.” Even worse, imagine being saddled with the task of organizing that inevitable snooze fest? Yea, THAT person has it waaay worse. The considerations are endless: Joan’s a vegetarian, Chris only drinks good whiskey, Tom always leaves early, and Pamela is really Debbie (Downer, who finds fault even with “free”).
Yea, I definitely want to focus on helping THAT person out. I want to make the Office Party Planner the Office Party Hero. I want to know that after it is all said and done, Tom closed the bar down and the party planner (Hero!) did too. It’s fair to say that the Irish gauge a good night out by the hour the last folks headed home. To that, we gauge a well executed party at Tigín by how much a party planner enjoyed him or herself. Because planning a party should be smooth AND FUN …not all work, stress and budget crunching. So, here’s a quick list that I’d give any friend who sent me an email asking, “where the Hell do I start?”
1. Shopping your Venue -
This can be daunting but you want to think about what would make most people happy at a Holiday party. We’re talking great food & drinks, and a cozy, fun atmosphere. The benefit of an Irish pub is that it is a place everyone can agree on. Pick any place else and you risk being “too something” – too fancy (white tablecloth), too boring (sports bar), too drinky (bar-only) or, the Boss’ house (just too much Boss). Self-promotion aside, recommendations are still a great way to narrow the field. Post a request on Facebook or shop around the reviews on Yelp and Open Table …a great starting point and pretty reliable all around.
2. Vetting Your Planner -
The first contact is key. You’ll know right away if you’re going to get along with the planner and if he or she seems fun and willing to meet your needs. Trust your gut. If you get off the phone with a smile on your face, you know you’re in good hands. Remember, if he or she is not excited now about doing business with you, don’t expect that to change.
3. Questions, Lots of Questions -
Sometimes the vetting happens only through email, so you need to be mindful of some early clues. When a request is submitted, a (good) event planner is going to hit the ground running. They are likely 3 steps ahead of you already and eager to fill in the gaps. If you submit a request (no matter how detailed) and good questions don’t start coming your way …red flag. These questions should pop up early in the planning process and are the #1 indicator that your event planner 1) cares 2) is experienced and 3) wants your business. The more they know, the better chance they have of putting together the kind of proposal that will make you swoon.
4. Personal Attention -
An event planner who sends you off to hunt information down, is an event planner you don’t want to deal with. An event planner should take on all the work …sending you all of your available options straight away. You need solutions to problems you hadn’t even considered yet.
5. Selling vs. Planning -
You have a (meager) budget and the boss is expecting miracles. A good event planner is going to offer up the best bang-for-your-budget options. Want to stretch the food? Well, its helpful to know that event space lay out is as important as the types of food selected to make your budget stretch. And, your event planner should tell you. You should not have to ask.
6. Makes it Special -
Every good event planner has at least a little bit of Martha Stewart in him or her and your party, no matter the budget, deserves that special something. Some of you have ideas and just need the venue to make it happen. Easy. And, some of you don’t have a clue …that’s ok, too. Flowers, table decorations, your boss’ favorite whiskey, or Guinness chocolate treats …a good event planner has you covered.
7. Office Party Hero stuff -
Every party planner has a day of check list. Ask about it. Seriously, early on, as you are going through your budget and picking out foods, etc. ask how you can have a good time at your own party. A good party planner not only wants things to run smoothly for you but also wants you to have fun. Answering this question should be easy.
Even before I started working at Tigín, a Holiday gathering at the pub was always a treat. I knew that the atmosphere was going to be on point (festive!). I knew I could count on good munchies and a great selection of drink. Most restaurants can do an equally great job in ticking those boxes off as well. But, the one thing that I always count on at the Pub, above all else, is the staff. They are serving you but they are as much a part of the atmosphere as the music because they are actually enjoying themselves. They are in it for the night, moving in the same direction, together. It’s the difference between hospitality and service. Cheers! Where everybody knows your name? We all love that kind of service. But, when your server introduces herself and you want to remember HER name? …hospitality. This is one of those squishy you-just-have-to-experience-it-to-know-it deals. Whether its a Friday night, Sunday brunch, a Holiday office party — you will always have that at Tigín.
So, are you going to be the Office Party Hero this year?