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At Thoma, we work with six research-proven areas of strength found in thriving businesses with strong cultures and high customer-centricity. Bringing focus to these six disciplines inside a business creates the unbreakable culture that allows businesses to thrive and grow. This newsletter focuses on the importance of meaningful, collective celebrations building and supporting your values, mission and brand promise.

But many of us are not professional party planners! Never fear — the following planning checklist will aid you in crafting a company-wide celebration that will meet your culture-building objectives. 

Before you begin, determine the “culture” focus of the celebration. This may be an annual company-wide picnic, but you should extend the general celebration goals to include a focus on your brand promise or your company values. This will make determining the theme of the celebration easier as you’ll want a theme that drives your point. For example, FNBC Bank’s annual all-hands meeting always carries a theme that reinforces one of their key mantras: We’re Better Together!

Remember that all celebrations include the following: music, food, activities, decoration/costumes or symbols, momentos, recording/archiving, structure and story-telling. See if you can plan for all of these elements at your celebration. All right — let’s get planning!

Before the Event:

  • Determine event goals and objectives
  • Remember to identify very clearly the purpose of the celebration
  • Identify possible dates
  • Prepare a preliminary agenda and guest list. This will help you set the criteria for the venue
  • Send meeting requirements to selected sites with requests for written proposals — If you are signing a contract you should always get a written proposal. No surprises is a good thing!
  • Review site proposals from responding suppliers; select potential sites and begin site negotiations with potential venues
  • Conduct site visits as required
  • Add any deadlines and other requirements to your timetable — establishing these milestones for your event will keep you on track
  • Form committees as required
  • Prepare preliminary budget categories and set preliminary budget. Unless you manage your corporate event closely, it is very easy to see budgets mushroom
  • Identify needs for outside consultants and specify requirements
  • Hire a printer for all your needs. What might you need?

___ Invitation to Ceremony, Party, Benefit or Main Event

___ Response mechanism: card or electronic

___ Response envelope

___ Seating cards

___ Programs 

___ Agenda 

  • Establish meeting theme and preliminary graphics (logo, program, etc.)
  • Invite and confirm key speakers. This includes people within your organization. Don’t assume the VP of Marketing is automatically available
  • Determine preliminary food and beverage requirements and negotiate menus and prices. Remember, it’s all negotiable, but the more you customize, the more you have to manage
  • Obtain audiovisual needs from speakers and presenters. Order all necessary equipment as soon as you can
  • Review, update, and confirm final event budget. An important step in keeping your costs under control
  • Incorporate topics and speakers into meeting format. You should have an agenda for any event, even retirement parties and birthday lunches. Doesn’t have to be formal but know who’s doing the toast and who’s serving the cake
  • Select and order speaker gifts and any awards you may be handing out
  • Order special decorations for your corporate event. Sometimes for a small incremental charge you can personalize your décor with exceptional results
  • Prepare sign list; order signs. Consider ordering special signage to build your brand
  • Finalize food and beverage guarantees. A common mistake is ordering too much of everything to “be safe.”

Day of the Event:

  • Have a meeting to review responsibilities, procedures, and overlap areas like registration. It will feel like you don’t have time, but taking 10 minutes for an informational, and motivational, meeting will save you a lot of headaches later in the day
  • Confirm and monitor pickup of all rental equipment and supplies. Sure, you ordered it, but did it really show up?
  • Walk through the venue and check the following: (You should use this checklist twice. First, when you order supplies, decorations, etc. for your event, and again on the day of your event to make sure everything has arrived and is in place.)

The Room

___ Location

___ Caterer

___ Liquor

___ Bartenders and servers

___ Linens ___ Cloths (to floor?) ___ Napkins, Colors

___ Menu Planning 

___ Cake

___ Votives, Votive Candles

___ Table Candy

___ Table Games

___ Bar Candy

___ Glitter or Confetti

___ Bathroom Florals


___ T-shirts

___ Caps

___ Glow ___ Necklace ___ Earrings ___ Glasses

___ Tricks

___ Theme Oriented Items

___ Premiums (items with company logo for corporate event)


___ Photographer ___ Videographer

___ Candles (candlelighting, other)

___ Dress Determination

___ Casual ___Dressy Casual ___ Dressy ___ Optional BT ___ BT

  ___ Information Table


___ Sign-in Board

___ Message Book

___ Centerpieces

___ Welcome Sign

___ Entrance Piece At Door

___ Band Backdrop

___ Balloon Bouquets

___ Buffets – Decor

___ Buffets – Signage

___ Ceiling Treatment(s)

___ Outside Lobby Area

___ Sign Over Seating Cards

___ Directional Signage

___ Easels

___ Other…Theme Oriented

___ Company Display (if applicable)


___ DJ

___ Band Type __________________

___ Music During Cocktails

___ Caricaturist

___ Magician

___ Balloon Magic

___ Clowns ___ Jugglers ___ Mimes ___ Other _________________

___ Palmreaders, etc.

___ Handwriting Analysis

___ Photo favors

___ Tattoos

___ Special Presentation: Who to emcee? Who to present?

___ Roasts ___ Toasts

___ Audio/Visual Needs?

___. Other…Theme Oriented

Immediately After the Event:

  • Pack and inventory all material. Many of your materials are reusable. It’s a big investment, so take good care of it
  • Do financial reconciliation. With a big event, you’ll have many invoices and you need to make sure you have been billed correctly and you pay in a timely fashion. Watch expense reports, since a lot of cost can be hidden in those reports
  • Perform post-budget performance review. Were you on budget? Could you have saved money?
  • Prepare list for thank-you letters. Prepare and mail letters
  • Collect and organize data for final meeting reports. Obtain evaluations. It is very important to evaluate what went right and what went not so right so the next time is easier

Author Thoma Thoma

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