August 20, 2019
By Caroline Howard

Who has been excited for an office happy hour until you realized you had to plan it? Me (and I bet I'm not the only one out there).

Everyone knows that company happy hours are essential for morale, but they can be tough to plan–and they can get thrown at almost anyone–so, if you aren’t a professional planner, there are many things that are easy to overlook.

The easiest way to attack the planning process is to break it down into three parts: before, during, and after the event.

Before the Happy Hour: 

  • Figure out your budget – This is the single most important factor to the event. What you can spend will decide the venue, food, bar, etc.
  • Pick your date – Have at least two options.
  • Identify your attendees – Are you just inviting your team or is it the whole company?
  • Research venues – Pick at least three and think about inside/outside options. How important is the location to you? Is there easy access to public transportation?
  • Pick food options – When there is alcohol being served, it is best to provide food to keep a safe atmosphere. Limit alcohol intake and provide safe ways to get home. Don't forget about Vegetarian and Gluten free options!
  • Plan your social media coverageGenerate a fun hashtag. Use your social handles and encourage people to use the hashtag to bring attention both internally and externally about what your company does to loosen up, have fun, and bond. This is a great recruiting tool.

When researching venues consider the following:

  • Cost of venue & prices per room
  • Table space provided?
  • Will the venue provide servers?
  • How many bar locations can be set up?
  • Rain space?
  • Are serving utensils/plates provided?
  • What type of bar do you want to provide?
    • Open bar/drink tickets (Drink tickets help control the amount of alcohol consumed)
    • Be aware of anyone under 21 prior to the event and make sure everyone invited knows they are liable for their actions. Keep the company legally protected. Speak to HR about how to properly achieve this. 

During the Happy Hour:

  • Set up at least 30 minutes prior – Place tables logically. Be aware of the flow for food tables and ensure that the bar(s) is easily accessible. Include extra chairs so you aren’t forcing people to stand the whole time.
  • Use onsite check-inWe use OnArrival at our internal events too!  It is great to know who actually attended an event you put so much time into. It can be awkward if you don't actually know who came and the numbers will help you plan for next time.
  • Maintain the flow of lines – What's worse than waiting in a 30 minute line for a beer after working all day?
  • Be in control and stay alert – If someone is getting out of hand, step in. Know when someone needs a ride home and help them get there safely!
  • Promote the event on social media - Encourage people to use their social media! Live tweet/Instagram /Snapchat to create some FOMO  for the rest of the world.

After the Happy Hour:

  • Send a follow up survey – Get some feedback and adjust your selections for next time.
  • Share pictures/videos from the event – Use your hashtag! Showcase the best parts of the event so that anyone who couldn’t make it gets an idea of how it went (and wishes they were there).
  • Mention an upcoming event – Use this as a chance to get the word out while you have their attention!


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