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Corporate Event Planning 101: Part 2

In part 2 of our corporate event planning guide, we touch on event themes, whether or not to include alcoholic beverages, VIP pre-parties and more.


To theme or not to theme… that is the question. The simple answer is: Yes, when it makes sense and when budget allows for you to do it right. To “do it right”, the theme should be brought into virtually every aspect of the event – the invitation, color scheme, food, linen, décor and props, entertainment, and giveaways.

For example, to host a “Star Trek” or “Star Wars” party for a sales meeting and only have the theme incorporated into the invitation with just a few space theme decorations on the guest tables is really a let down for guests. Contrast that with:

  • An invitation from the company’s “Star Fleet Commander”
  • Guests greeted by a Klingon or Wookiee while the Star Trek or Star Wars theme is played in the background
  • Virtual Reality games available during the breaks or team building portion of the event
  • A barbecue buffet with items like Meteor Melon Salad, Pluto Pasta Salad, Chew Bacca Chili, etc. at a buffet decorated in silver mylar and theme props
  • Room décor that includes Star Trek or Star Wars full size cutouts
  • Table décor from simple mylar balloon bouquets to creative centerpieces that incorporate both the company logo and theme
  • A giveaway “UFO” radio with the company logo
  • An “Energy Station” where guests help themselves to a variety of colorful Jelly Bellys when they depart

All of this creates a fun, interactive environment where the guests will remember the message loud and clear.

Alcoholic Beverages: Yes or No?

Whether or not alcoholic beverages are suitable for your event really depends on your corporate culture and policy as well as the type of event that it will be. Additionally, many risk management departments do not allow alcohol on the company premises but will allow it if the party is held elsewhere. If the company is supplying alcohol at any location, it is a good idea to encourage designated drivers and responsible drinking as well as arrange for cab service for those who may be under the influence.

While it is common to see hosted open bars for customer events, some companies opt for “reasonable libations” for their employee events by only hosting a portion of the bar service. This can be done by giving each employee two alcoholic beverage tickets for the evening followed by unlimited non-alcoholic beverages after that.

VIP Pre-Party

There are times when budget does not allow for an elegant event for the entire company but management does want to particularly recognize its top customers or performers at a company wide event. This is where the VIP Pre-Party comes in. VIP’s are invited to arrive an hour or so earlier than the rest of the guests and are treated to a more opulent setting and menu, perhaps in a separate tent or room. Here, elegant hors d’oeuvres are passed and a hosted bar is provided as a treat to the VIP’s. Guests later join the rest of the party feeling appreciated for their hard work and loyalty.

The WOW Factor

They say that the first impression and the last are what guests will take with them. Maybe your budget doesn’t allow for WOW all the way through your event but if you want your guests to continue talking about your party until the next one, start and end with a bang.

Create a grand entrance with a custom marquee relevant to your corporate motto or have your company logo bouncing off the walls with rays of light. Have the guests greeted by a fun character serving them a signature drink or a special gift.

At the end of your event, have a pyrotechnic display or, on a smaller scale, have a series of confetti blasts. Serve an “over the top” dessert at the tables or provide a fun, action dessert station following the meal. Have your caterer roll out an espresso bar where the barista brews specialty coffee drinks for guests to enjoy on their drive home.

Taking a moment to design a “WOW” factor at your event is sure to leave a lasting impression and make you a phenomenal party planner!