Chances are, if you’re reading this now, that you’ve procrastinated the planning too long. Nevertheless, if you can pull something out of your hat or if you can get a jump start on next year, you’ll need to pay attention to the following details to make your corporate holiday party a success.

Location, location, location

It’s not just a real estate cliché; location matters. Where your corporate event is held says something about your company as well as how much value you place on the party. For example, having your corporate holiday party at a casual dining establishment at 5:15 p.m. on a Monday evening says one of two things: your company is down to earth and family friendly or you don’t really give a flying flip about the party. The culture of your company and your employees will determine which of the two it is. If, on the other hand, your party is in the finest banquet room of a luxury hotel, or is catered by the most prestigious company in town, it says your company is successful, well to do, and formal.

What’s your company’s culture? Fun? Formal? Innovative? Timeless? Find a location for the party that reflects the culture.

Don’t talk shop

If your idea of a program includes graphs with annual sales figures, you need to know that’s not a party; that’s a meeting. People don’t enjoy meetings as much as they enjoy parties. Host an event that celebrates just being a team and working together toward a common goal. Leave the strategy and pie charts at the office.

Music sets the tone

You should have music. Period. Music transforms a gathering into a party. It sets the mood for the entire evening.  Hire a DJ, find a band, but make sure there’s music. Mix in some holiday songs with some songs people like to dance to. If you’re not sure what those might be, you should probably go with a DJ who does. (Side note: Don’t hire just any DJ. Like the location, your DJ should represent the culture and professionalism of your company as a whole.)

If you feed them, they will come

Not everybody has a favorable view of office parties. Set out a nice spread, tell folks about it, and then watch your numbers increase. Once people get there you can ensure they have a good time, but to get them there, food is key. Consider dietary restrictions and tastes before you set the menu. Caviar may sound formal and white collar, but if people don’t like caviar it becomes a French word meaning “waste of money”.

Have a determined purpose for the gathering

People should have some idea of what to expect when they come to a corporate holiday party. You should have a reason other than “we should do this” to throw a corporate holiday party. Is this when promotions and holiday bonuses are awarded? Is the party of expression of the executive team’s appreciation for hard work throughout the year? As a whole, is the company supporting a charitable cause for the holidays and the party kicks off the campaign? Whatever the reason, make sure the guests know your intentions.

Don’t forget to have fun! Decorations may be quickly forgotten, but laughter and memories are lasting.