Whether you’re shopping for gifts for your team or you are planning a surprise Christmas party for the entire office, this sort of project requires a lot of planning and tough decision-making. Luckily, these are part of your project management skillset, so it should come easy to put everything together, right?

Well, if most PMs can manage difficult situations and know how to deal with difficult people, many would rather stay away from the Christmas event organization ordeal. They enjoy attending the event, but the organization is a completely different situation.

So, if this year it’s your turn to take care of things, don’t worry. You have the right skills and tools to cover everything, starting with the shopping list. You just need to know how to use your PM abilities for a slightly out of the box task.

Here’s how to do it in just five easy steps:

#1: Planning is Your Friend

As a PM, you are trained to plan a project in detail, so use this ability to plan the entire scenario.

Start by creating a list with the people you want to invite and the ones who are most likely to attend. This will give you an idea regarding the size of your event and the size of the shopping list (or lists, since there will be several).

The second list you need is with the items that need to be purchased and suppliers that need to be contacted. For instance, you may want to talk with a catering business, but it’s crucial to book them early on since Christmas is a busy period for many businesses in the food industry.

Lastly, you will have to use your skills to create a budget for the event, and this is where all these lists are going to make things easier.

#2: Research, Research, Research

Every good PM knows that, in order to be successful, a company needs to put employee’s well being first. But for this to happen, the company needs to collect data on preferences, personality, and more.

Based on this data, the HR department is capable of drafting profiles that can be used when deciding who should be part of a new project, who deserves a promotion, and who is most likely to need more attention from their manager.

However, in this situation, the data can also be used to improve your shopping list. While most personal information is confidential, in the interest of a well-organized Christmas event, you may be able to access some details that will tell you more about the best gifts to buy for everyone.

It may be a bit more work than just getting everyone a shopping voucher for the nearest mall, but it will show you care about your team and want to create the best holiday office experience for them.

#3: Risk Management - Have a Plan B

It is the job of a good project manager to know how to manage difficult situations and how to assess risks. So, why not use this skill when you’re planning the event? After all, there are plenty of things that could go wrong, starting with a problem with the food and ending with bad weather.

As such, it is crucial to plan ahead and pinpoint the areas that may be problematic for the event. Once you do so, it will be easier to have a plan B that will save the mood and keep everyone happy.

For instance, it’s a good idea to have two types of gifts for everyone. One gift could be in physical form (a spa package, noise-canceling headphones, or a wine basket) and one could be in virtual form.

This way, should anything happen with the delivery of the first kind of gifts, you still have something to offer at the event.

#4: Use the Right Tools 

Now, we know that it is difficult to keep up with your current responsibilities and think about shopping lists, gifts, and organizing events. But, if you use the tools at your disposal, this task will be less of a hurdle.

You can use spreadsheets to make the lists and color-code them to identify problematic areas. Also, you can invite everyone to the event by sending personalized Google Calendar invites. This way, you’ll get a quick reply and everyone will be notified in a jiffy.

Lastly, you can use the main PM tools in the office and treat this task as a new project. This way, everything will be easily accessible and the planning phase will go smoothly.

#5: Be Organized

A shopping list is not just an array of products and items. It’s a layered project that interconnects elements from all walks of life and you need to keep things under wraps.

For instance, the items on the shopping list will decide where you’ll do the shopping, how much it will take and cost, and who is going to be involved. The same is true about the list of suppliers and the location of the event.

This is a project with multiple ramifications and it must be handled correctly, which is why being organized is an important aspect. For this, it’s best to keep the Christmas shopping list project separate from other tasks in the office. Furthermore, it’s best to find a way to assign this project its own time slot in your schedule, so it won’t get entangled with other tasks. 

Luckily, any good PM must know how to organize their team and projects in order to deliver amazing results.

Wrap Up

As you can see, there is nothing a project manager can’t do with a bit of planning, research, risk management, and good organizing skills. If you top these with the right tools, your Christmas event should write itself!