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Tips for throwing a company holiday party

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Tips for throwing a company holiday party
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

From food to location to entertainment to décor, planning a company holiday party can take the “happy” right out of “happy holidays.”


But planning the annual party doesn’t need to be stressful or time-consuming, according to local event planners. With a few tips and tricks, planning a well-organized, thoughtful party for employees can even put the jolly back into the season.

First and foremost, it’s important to have a variety of food available at the holiday party. According to staff at local venues, food is one of the most — if not the most — important parts of an event.

“Food can make or break an event,” said Tom Straub, food and beverage director at Jackpot Junction Casino Hotel, outside of Redwood Falls. “People gather around food all the time.”

Once considered taboo at company parties, alcohol can also be served at the holiday event — in moderation.

“A lot of times, businesses will offer a limited amount of drink tickets to employees,” Straub said. “Or, in lieu of a bar, they’ll offer a glass of wine with dinner. It’s festive.”

Of course, where to hold the party should also be given heavy consideration. While booking the venue is often the most expensive part of an event, Jenna Chapin, general manager of The Oaks at Eagle Creek in Willmar, said that having a party at a one-stop location can actually save a business money.

“We do all of the event planning, rather than having one employee do all of it,” Chapin said. “Remember that off-premise isn’t necessarily budget-saving. There are costs built into almost everything. For example, we have decorations here that businesses wouldn’t have to buy themselves.”

Jackpot Junction, another one-stop venue, also tries to make a holiday party as cost-effective for a business as possible. This year, Jackpot Junction is hosting an “All Business Party” for those businesses that want a holiday party, but may not have the staff or resources to host it themselves. Many small businesses attend the event, but others bring as many as 50 employees, said Lisa Busse-Erickson, sales manager at Jackpot.

“It’s a chance for businesses to have the full-blown holiday party without hitting their pocketbook too hard,” Busse-Erickson said. “When you have as few as five people in an office, a party with a buffet and live entertainment may not be possible. This way, we can get all of those businesses under one roof, enjoying the party together.”

Other businesses looking to save some money on the holiday party should be flexible and open to ideas, Chapin said. 

“Be flexible with your dates,” Chapin said. “Weeknights are generally less expensive than weekends. If you go to a venue, ask what they have available rather than purchasing those items yourself.”

Even on tighter budgets, it’s important to do something for staff around the holidays, Chapin said. Often, just the simple gesture of holding a holiday party — regardless of the food or entertainment — means the most to employees.

“Everyone needs a little pat on the back,” she said. “It’s the small things that are beneficial to staff. You want to make them feel appreciated.”

For more information on hosting a holiday party at The Oaks at Eagle Creek, visit For more information on hosting a party at Jackpot Junction, contact the sales staff at 507-697-8016.

Ashley White

Ashley White is the community content coordinator for the West Central Tribune. Follow her on Twitter @Ashley_WCT.

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