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Venue, Menu, Décor & More: Chicago Holiday Party Planning Checklist

Planning a Chicago holiday party can be stressful. It actually leads many companies to create holiday party planning committees so it’s not all left up to one person to handle. Whether you’re working solo or with a team, we want to simplify the experience for you. We want to help you understand everything you need upfront so you don’t worry about missing a single deadline or detail.

That’s why we’ve created this Chicago holiday party planning checklist. Here is a step-by-step guide for everything you’ll need to plan a stylish Chicago holiday party for your company—complete with a stunning venue and décor, flavorful menu, festive activities and more.

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Getting Started

Planning your Chicago holiday party starts with knowing the details. You should know the who, what, when and how of your party to start bringing your vision to life.

Decide on a date and time.
The most popular days for a company holiday party in Chicago are Thursdays and Fridays. But our town works hard every day of the week. Days leading up to the Christmas holiday (Dec. 21–24) and the week after, leading up to New Year’s (Dec. 28–31), are very practical choices. Once you pick a day, find a time for your holiday party that will maximize how many people can attend.

Create a holiday party budget that’s realistic.
It’s important to know what your company can afford to spend on your holiday party. Create a budget that’s broken down into categories based on the items on this checklist. This will help you decide which areas you need to cut back and which you can maybe spend a little more on.

Make a guest list.
Your guest list will largely depend on what kind of holiday party you’re looking to throw (not to mention your budget!). A small Chicago holiday party might be best served with either an employees-only guest list or employees plus one. But for a larger event, invite your employees to bring their families. Of course, you can always invite your clients too. Your holiday party is a great opportunity to build a better relationship with them for the new year.

Think of a holiday party theme and style.
Chicago holiday parties can be formal, casual and everything in between. Find a holiday party theme that means something special to your team. Then bring that idea to your event planner. We’ve profiled plenty of holiday party themes and styles before, and we’re always excited to take a client’s vision to the next level in our venue.

Coordinating Your Chicago Holiday Party

Once you have the details, it’s time to start putting your holiday party plan into action.

Find a holiday party venue with catering services that will impress your guests.
Chicago holiday parties in the office are fine, but they don’t really stand out to your employees or guests. Give your team a chance to celebrate the holiday in a unique venue. One way to make your Chicago holiday party memorable is to host it in a venue that features interesting architecture and beautiful interior design that your guests otherwise might not get to experience. Spaces at our venue like La Sala Lucchese and La Pergola would be splendid choices.

Choose your food service.
Your food service will also depend on your guest count and venue space. For a space like La Pergola, a plated dinner for your holiday party would be quite elegant. But for a larger company holiday party in a space like The Pavilion, a buffet would be more practical. A third option that’s sure to excite your guests would be setting up interactive food stations. This would allow your guests to explore the venue freely while enjoying different types of fine cuisine.

Plan your holiday menu.
Once you know your food food service style, you’ll be able to decide on what appetizers, hors d’oeuvres, entrées, side dishes, and desserts to include. Just remember to be thoughtful of your guests’ dietary preferences and restrictions. Chicago is full of diverse palates, and some of your holiday party guests are likely to be vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free or gluten-free. Talk to your team before you plan your holiday catering menu and share that information with your caterer.

Plan your bar service.
Would you like an open bar at your event? Perhaps custom holiday cocktails or seasonal drinks would be appropriate for your event. Your bar service will depend on your budget, your theme, and your venue. Consult your caterer and your venue on your bar options and choose the one that best suits your event.

Executing Your Chicago Holiday Party

Now that you’ve put together a party plan, it’s time to execute. Our venue has a preferred vendors list for things like live entertainment and rental equipment that make this even easier for you.

Hire entertainment.
It can be a live band, DJ or something entirely different. But you’ll want to hire entertainment that will keep your holiday party guests happy.

Find rental equipment.
Tables, chairs, linens, lighting, stage equipment and more. Going through our Chicago holiday party venue’s preferred vendors list ensures that all rental equipment is covered and you can focus on entertaining your guests. Galleria Marchetti supplies all of the tables, chairs, and staging for events which means less planning for you.

Find holiday party games and activities.
Your holiday party games and activities should appeal to all your guests. If your event includes your employees’ families, then you’ll want activities for children like cookie decorating.

Decide the venue layout.
Work closely with your caterer and venue to plan a layout for your holiday party that best uses the venue space. Our program called All Seated helps easily organize every space of your event.

Create a timeline.
Your timeline should revolve around the most important activities of your event. It should also keep in mind times for setup and cleanup. Work closely with your venue to create a timeline that is seamless from food to service.

Send out invitations and market your event.
The sooner you start promoting your Chicago holiday party, the better. Your team members will have plenty of holiday events to attend around this time of year. Send out invitations as early as possible to ensure that they get your holiday party on their calendar. Afterwards, be sure to send out weekly reminders leading up to your party date to help build excitement and keep it front-of-mind.

Our checklist here will help you plan your party from start to finish. With a little imagination and our gorgeous holiday party venue, you’ll have an event that will stick out in your employees’ heads for years to come.

Contact us online or give us a call at 312.563.0495 to start planning your memorable company holiday party right here in one of downtown Chicago’s premier holiday event venues.

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