Written by Danielle Smith • September 28, 2023
Even if they don’t admit it, many people look forward to work events. This is especially true if that work event offers employees a chance to shake up their work weeks, connect with one another on a more personal level, and celebrate milestones over a shared meal.
While work events can help companies create and perpetuate a positive environment, there’s a reason why these events don’t happen every week. Work events — especially the most significant ones — cost money, and maintaining a work event budget can be a tall order.
Managing an event can be challenging. Here are five tips to keep your work event costs low so you don’t have to stress about the budget.
As you’re trying to keep your work event budget in check, take the time to look through your options. This is a tip not just for catering but all of the options you have for the work event, including venues, party favors, decorations, and more. If you’re looking to rent out a venue for your company party, ask for quotes from at least five venues. You might do the same with other rentals like table rentals or decorations. With more information on what costs are, you’ll be able to make a more educated decision and pick the one that has the best value. You might also be able to ask for a sweeter deal when you show a vendor that you have a better option.
It can be tempting to make reservations as soon as you find a good space, good menu, or good florist. When you check out your options, however, you can ensure that you’ll find the one that aligns best to your budget. Spending time avoids hasty decisions, which end up spending money.
One of the biggest costs for work events is catering, and no work event is complete without a delicious snack or meal shared amongst colleagues. Whether it’s hors d'oeuvres around cocktail tables, a sit down dinner at a nice venue, or snacks in the company kitchen, your food order can make or break your event — and your budget.
To reduce food costs, check out the options for individual meals rather than food a la buffet style (also called family style). There are many arguments between what’s best for company meals, individually-wrapped meals or buffet style. However, when it comes to the budget, ordering individual meals is the clear winner.
This may seem counter intuitive, as individual meals sound like they would cost more than food in bulk. However, for most individual meals on CaterCow, per-person costs are around the same. The key to saving money with individual meals is because you can order exactly what you need — and avoid over ordering (and overpaying).
Similarly, group order polls allow you to order exactly what you need to without paying for extra. When you send a group order poll out to the team, you’ll get an organized list of what they want, and from there you can make that exact order. Asking for input from the team means that they’re more likely to eat what gets ordered, meaning less food waste and also less wasted money.
Another benefit of group order polls is that each person gets enough food and also gets the type of food that matches their preferences, including dietary restrictions. This can be a good, cost saving option for smaller work events.
As you’re making plans for your work event, it’s good practice to keep records of all of your costs. There are many ways to track a budget, whether that’s a spreadsheet, app, or organizational platform. You don’t even need an accountant-level budget tracker to do this effectively — any way to keep track of the things that you’ve spent money on can be helpful (well, perhaps not pen on the back of a napkin, that one might not be super helpful).
As you list out your costs, find a regular time to review what you’ve spent money on. Costs, especially for big work events, can add up, which makes it important to monitor what you’re spending. Greater insight into your spending behaviors for the work event might change your decision making. Once you start to draw close to your maximum budget, you may need to start cutting the remaining costs. And you can only have this insight if you keep records of your costs.
Lastly, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to plan your work event. This brings together the other tips: more time gives you a chance to check out your options, gather a group order poll from your colleagues, and the opportunity to review your costs before making more purchases.
If you can, give yourself weeks ahead of a company wide work event or even months ahead for a big work event. Planning in advance gives you the chance to scope out costs before you make purchases, meaning that you can project costs and change plans accordingly to remain within your budget.
By being savvy about your work event budget, you can focus your attention on other aspects of the event, like having good quality time with your colleagues. Nothing would be worse than cringing each time you see someone eating a cannoli because all you can think about is how much that cost in your budget!