If your chamber has been hosting a holiday party open (and free) to all members you may be questioning the cost of this each year. But if you’ve been doing it for a while, suddenly eliminating it can bring about disgruntled feelings akin to what went on in the movie Christmas Vacation with the Jelly of the Month Club.
A member of the Chamber of Commerce Professionals Group on Facebook asked:
My chamber has been hosting a holiday party (complete with appetizers and beverages) for several years. I’ve been Executive Director for 6 years and I know it was done for several years prior to me. The chamber covers all costs for this party, mostly a “we appreciate our members” kinda thing. Anyone else do something similar? Is it something we should continue?? Thoughts?
Cut the Costs without Cutting the Fun
As long as attendance is good, cutting your holiday celebration outright should be saved as a last resort. Here are a few suggestions from chambers around the country on how they manage costs.
The staff cooks
The chamber picks up the cost of the food but the preparation is done by the chamber staff. Some chamber’s board members supply food potluck style.
Approach members to foot the tab by donating food and beverages. If your office isn’t large enough for the gathering see if a member is willing to donate the use of his or her space for a few hours.
Change the offerings
Appetizers and non-alcoholic beverages are cheaper than a meal and an open bar. It’s a good way to cut costs and eliminate the people who only come for free booze.
Start charging for tickets
If the event has always been free, charging a few dollars may upset some party goers but it’s always an option to help subsidize the event.
Cover some, not all of the costs
Decide what parts can be sponsored and what you will pick up. Food can be sponsored but the chamber covers the drinks, or food is covered but door prizes are donated. Split the cost to keep the fun.
If you want to ditch paying for alcohol but don’t think anyone would come to an event without it, change the time of the event. An event hosted in the middle of the day will not bring the booze-seekers the way an evening event might. You can eliminate the cost and liability of providing alcohol without a lot of people noticing if the event is during the work day.
How do you handle the cost of a holiday party? Join the conversation here.
Guest post by Christina Green
Image credit: Norma Davey