If you’re a meeting and event professional responsible for planning your company’s calendar of events, chances are you know the familiar crunch to spend your budget before the end of the year — and do it wisely. Whether your goal is to increase employee engagement and satisfaction before year’s end, or lay the foundation for your organization’s flagship events in the new year, there are a number of ways to get the most out of the company dollar (and keep it coming next year).

We’ve outlined a few innovative event ideas for spending the rest of your annual event budget the smart way.

Get a Jumpstart on Next Year’s Spring Conference

If your company plans to host an annual conference in the spring, laying the groundwork for that should begin 8 to 12 months out. This means establishing your goals and objectives, choosing an event format and theme, and putting together a rough budget.

Food and beverage should account for about one-third of your overall conference budget, and earmarking it now will only make the more granular stages of planning go smoothly in the new year. Planning ahead will also ensure that you can lock in the most popular vendors, and ideal venues. If you expect to welcome conference delegates from around the country (or the globe), working with mobile food vendors is a great way to showcase some local flavor while supporting small businesses.

While getting ahead of large event expenditures will surely put you in a good light, it’s no doubt important to maximize how your spending your company’s event budget. If you need to trim your conference’s food and beverage spend, delegates aren’t as likely to notice if you cut back on catered breaks (just don’t skimp out on water and coffee). Serve-yourself buffets and DIY bars are also popular these days, and cost-effective to boot. 


Invest in Your People (So They Stay Invested in Your Business) 

It’s no secret that companies that foster a culture of appreciation see employees who are, on average, happier, more engaged, and more productive. It’s also true that whether your company is a team of 20 or 20,000, employees often only truly get to know those who they directly interact with on a daily basis. Why not encourage team bonding across different departments (as well as up and down the org chart) with an employee appreciation event that fosters communication and goodwill?

Here at Off the Grid, we’re firm believers in the power of a shared meal to bring people together. When planning your next office-wide activity, think about the importance of food and beverage — and its role in nourishing your employees from the inside, out. A few of our tasting-friendly items are Mister Bomboloni’s Italian-style doughnuts served with a variety of dipping sauces, and Pye’s savory hand-pies with fillings like butter chicken and carnitas. 

Whether its a volunteer event in the community followed by a company event or happy hour with full bar service, or a company picnic with lawn games and plus ones, putting a little extra thought into your typical office events will let your employees know that their contributions matter.


Gift Your Team with a Last-Minute Holiday Party

Although 2019 holiday party planning should be well underway by this point, we know that things don’t always go as planned. Whether you’re looking to throw an intimate outing for just your department or orchestrating the entirety of your company’s annual soiree, holiday party season is the perfect time to flex your creative event planning prowess. 

In fact, not having the benefit of unlimited time and budget on your side can spur some outside-the-box ideas that may more aligned with what your guests want. According to Eventbrite, 50% of Americans prefer to eat small bites at an event, while just 19% prefer a large meal (pro tip: consider strategically scheduling your event between standard meal times to ensure smaller bites will suffice). Start a new office tradition this year with a catered desk decorating contest or a holiday-themed karaoke night. Or, surprise your team with a special holiday luncheon, or cheerful dessert bar

Act fast to nab a venue that shines on its own so you can go keep decor on the simpler side. A few of our favorite holiday party-friendly showstoppers are Gallery 308, the Log Cabin at the Presidio and Terra Gallery.

If it all feels like too much, Off the Grid Catering can help with nearly all last-minute event requests — even during the busy holiday season. Give us a shout!