Your Holiday Planning Timeline for a Low-Stress Season

By Stephanie Taylor Christensen
 

Proactive and strategic planning is key to minimizing the stress and frustration office managers often experience when it comes to holiday planning. Use this simple holiday planning guide to conquer the many ancillary tasks that you're required to handle so you can enjoy this festive and celebratory season.

By Early October

  • Brainstorm holiday party ideas. Office managers can send a companywide email asking for suggestions on the holiday party theme, time and date. Collaborate with procurement to identify budget-appropriate options.
  • Determine client and employee gifts. Office managers can determine the best approach for distributing gifts based on budgets and feedback from management. Also keep in mind human resources policies, and, in addition to the IRS' limitations that deductible business gifts cannot exceed $25, clients may have their own restrictions regarding the gifts they can accept. When in doubt, consult the team member with the direct client relationship to confirm.
  • Secure resources for seasonal office cards. Secure creative resources to take the team photo you feature on holiday cards or hire a designer to craft your holiday card concept.

By Mid-October

  • Determine who will be in the office and when. Office managers should email all departmental managers to request a final list of who on the team will be on vacation and when. The sooner team vacation schedules are finalized, the better equipped you are to tackle other holiday planning needs — including when to hold the holiday office party, the deadline for circulating holiday greeting cards for staff to sign and how to plan for staffing shortages.
  • Complete holiday card concepts. Office managers should have scheduled the team photo and finalized concepts for holiday cards by this time. Engage the print buying team to finalize holiday card orders.

By Late October

  • Verify details for sending client gifts: Distribute client mailing lists to team managers to confirm that addresses and recipient information on file is accurate.
  • Settle on logistics for the holiday party: Negotiate and finalize rates on event locations, caterers and other staff who'll be part of the holiday office festivities by this time.

By Early November

  • Have the team personalize those holiday cards: Distribute holiday cards for team members to sign, with a suggested deadline so you can have the time to address them.
  • Send electronic invitations for the party: Share the details of what employees should expect during the festivities, including how to find the venue if it's not readily apparent.

By Mid-November

  • Get a final head count for the party: Secure RSVP information for employees who will attend the holiday office party. Confirm numbers with the caterer and other vendors who will support the festivities.
  • Decorate: Arrange help — whether from interns, willing employees or temporary staff — to get holiday office decorations out of storage and displayed in the office.

By Late November

  • Aim to have all holiday planning complete. Ensure holiday cards are in the mail, client gift baskets are in transit and your office party planning is complete.

Holiday planning is often a thankless job, but it's less daunting for office managers when a logical series of tasks is laid out to keep you on track. Start planning at least three months in advance of the season and secure the help you need, so you can enjoy the fruits of all your hard work during the holiday season.

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