A holiday party is an opportunity for staff to “let their hair down and take a step back from work,” says Jason Katz, president of Atmosphere Event Communications in Montreal.

While there is no “one size fits all” solution to party planning, Katz says, there are a few rules you can follow to help ensure a successful event:

1. Have a consistent party budget
If you have been throwing holiday parties for many years and suddenly you choose not to, your staff will wonder why.

“Employees will look at this and [ask], ‘are we doing okay?'” Katz says.

So, it is a good idea to have a sustainable budget that you can depend on every year, rather than having a huge bash one year and then having to cut back significantly the following year.

2. Don’t skimp on food and drinks
“If you’re going to do it,” Katz, says, “do it right and be a gracious host. [You can] cut back somewhere but not the food and beverages.”

If you have to cut costs, your staff will likely not complain about a change of venue or less-fancy invitations. But everyone has an opinion when it comes to a good meal.

If you’re concerned about blowing your budget on alcohol, explore other ways to provide a good experience without going over budget. Katz suggests decreasing the variety of alcoholic beverages. Or hold a holiday lunch, as people are likely to drink less, if at all, during a workday.

3. Choose a creative, appropriate theme
Let’s face it, the “winter wonderland” idea has been done.

“When you look at the holiday party,” Katz says, “people know what we’re celebrating.” Try to style it a new way.

An appropriate theme depends on your personal feelings toward the occasion you’re celebrating and your staff. What comes to mind when you think of your practice and your team? Are you an office of young professionals just starting out in the industry, or an experienced team of wealth managers? Let your theme suit your practice’s personality.

For example, Katz recently organized a party for a company run by a group of young city dwellers. The theme was urban art, with an emphasis on graffiti. It had nothing to do with the holidays but it was a fun idea that appealed to that group’s demographic.

4. Engage your audience
“Try to create something that people can be involved in,” Katz says.

You can involve your guests through entertainment. And, like your theme, your entertainment should be suited to the audience and your budget.

Do you see your team enjoying a live performance by a well-known comedian or musician? Or is audience participation on the dance floor more important than who is on stage? Perhaps your team would rather experience some great classical music from the comfort of their seats.

There are plenty of options. Finding the right fit is a matter of knowing your team.

This is the second installment in a two-part series on holiday parties.