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For most companies, the annual year-end function is a key event on the calendar. It’s the one time of the year when employees have the opportunity to step out of their formal departments, relax and just enjoy interacting with one another. Ensure the planning is as stress-free as the event itself with these 10 event management tips:

1. Plan ahead
Confirm the date, time, format and size of the event well in advance to ensure that your preferred venue and service providers are available, and so that your guests can diarise the event in advance. Construct a to-do list that outlines what needs to be done and by when to give you total control over the event.

2. Involve your guests
One way to ensure that your guests are happy is to get their input right from the start. Informally talk to colleagues and ask them to share their experiences of the best office party they have ever attended or run a small competition to encourage them to submit ideas.

3. Delegate
Whether you want to put together an official social committee or just ask for the help of a few colleagues, delegation will ensure that your workload remains manageable. Play on people’s strengths and ask for help with tasks that you know they will enjoy.

4. Budget
Draw up a budget in a spreadsheet – and stick to it. Record expenses as you go along to ensure that you don’t exceed the budget (remember, small expenses quickly add up). Remember to keep slips if you are paying for something out of your own pocket. You can save by negotiating prices for buying in bulk or getting sponsors for awards and prizes.

5. Prioritise
Although pretty serviettes and other small details are nice-to-have components for any event, the food, drinks and music are the main contributors to the success of the event and should therefore receive more attention (and budget) than other components. When it comes to menu planning, remember to make provision for any dietary requirements.

6. Check the legalities
Ensure that you adhere to legal requirements regarding health and safety, playing music at the event, serving alcohol, etc. Also ensure that your event is aligned with company policies and values.

7. Travel safe
Keep the travel distance as short as possible, and if you are serving alcohol, be sure to provide safe travel options. Consider negotiating rates with a taxi agency or dedicating a portion of your budget to subsidising safe transport for your guests.

8. Pick a theme
Themes are always fun and make for great conversation points but be sure to choose a theme that all guests will be comfortable with. If you suspect that guests will not be keen to dress up, rather incorporate the theme into the décor and food.

9. Mix it up
To avoid departments and teams naturally “clicking” together, ensure that your seating plan facilitates interaction between people who would not generally interact.

10. Have fun
Once everything has been set up, be sure to give yourself a pat on the back for your hard work and enjoy the evening with your colleagues.

To learn more, consider the part-time University of Cape Town Events Management short course, which starts on 19 November 2012. For more information,contact Nikki on 021 685 4775 or nicole@getsmarter.co.za. Alternatively, visit:www.getsmarter.co.za