“What is life without celebration? An endless series of to-do’s without ta-dahs.” This is not yet a quote, but it should be! Life itself is cause for celebration. There are so many moments that pass us by without reflection or recognition, and these are the moments that make the magic of life. It’s important to celebrate the big (and little) moments in life, and in work. Not only is this a feel-good endeavor, but recognition has real value. Eighty-four percent of employees feel recognition affects their motivation to succeed at work, among other important factors, so there’s even more at stake.

Celebrating the Company

One way companies can engage in celebrations is by giving employees awards through formal recognition. This lifts overall morale, builds teamwork, and gives a confidence boost to employees. It also shows partners and customers what kind of company you are—focused on your team and their growth. Not only can company awards provide an internal boost, but events celebrating employee achievement can be posted on social media and websites, recounted in company newsletters, and shared by word-of-mouth to add a little more celebration to everyone’s lives.

How Do I Plan an Awards Event?

So how do you create a celebration that’s not only memorable, but has real lasting effects for all involved? Let’s look at ways to elevate your company awards event so it’s extra special each time. Here’s a comprehensive checklist:

🗹 Start with Goals: What are you hoping to achieve as you celebrate these achievements? Set the intention and purpose upfront. Is it to boost morale, showcase jobs that don’t get as much recognition, raise your profile in the community? Once you’ve decided on this, you can select a theme that aligns with these ideas, as well as your company’s branding, mission, and values.
🗹 Budget Right: Like all events, controlling costs can be a challenge. With an upfront budget, you can plan for all anticipated costs and set aside some funding for incidentals that are sure to emerge. Remember, you’ll need to cover the invitations, venue, catering, awards, decorations, entertainment, giveaways, and more. A clear budget will help inform the next decisions.
🗹 Book the Venue: Picture the look and feel you want to generate. Is it warm and intimate? A bit bigger and bolder? Consider restaurants with extra rooms for a smaller group and unique event venues for larger gatherings. You can also use your company space if you’re lucky enough to have something suitable!
🗹 Draw Up the Guest List: Beyond employees, think of all stakeholders and partners that would want to be included. When in doubt, it’s always better to send an invitation than to leave someone out. Have them RSVP so you can plan properly for food, seating, and other important considerations.
🗹 Engage the Entertainment: Get creative here! You can bring in a magician, tarot card reader, aerialist, photo booth, band, DJ, speaker, or whatever type of entertainment resonates best with your group and your message. Just like with a trade show, the point is to take this event above the everyday with something special.
🗹 Create the Invites: These set the tone for the event, so try to capture the feeling: the tone, mood, entertainment, venue, and more. A printed invitation goes a long way in building anticipation for the event.
🗹 Choose the Food: The food is one of the most important attractions for many people. Again, align it with the tone of the event. Is it fun and frilly? Maybe finger foods and unusual confections will fit the bill. Is it more formal? A sit down dinner with several courses may suffice. For a real impact, you could design a signature dish or cocktail that mirrors the theme. Have fun with the food, and make sure to include additional options to handle dietary restrictions.
🗹 Design the Awards: It’s important to give awardees something tangible to mark their achievements. These will serve as lasting reminders of their value to the company. Be sure to align these with the theme too.
🗹 Rehearse: Check in early to make sure anyone who is speaking or entertaining has what they need, including the correct amount of time. Ensure any speeches, presentations, or other entertainment do a dry run to catch snags before the big event. Then set up and test technology well in advance, and consider having a small IT team there to handle any issues that might arise. Have a back up plan ready for any challenges.
🗹 Decorate! Here’s where the theme comes to life through branded banners, backgrounds (like those in trade shows), napkins, balloons, table settings/cards, flowers, and more. Make sure to have these ordered well in advance.
🗹 Confirm Venue Logistics: Ensure you’re on the same page for set up and breakdown, as well as any other moving parts.
🗹 Capture the Event: Engage a professional photographer to capture everything, and encourage people to take their own photos. All can share on social media (give them a hashtag or two), so the event can continue on!

Related: How User-Generated Content Brings Events to the Next Level.

What’s Trending in Company Awards?

Here are a few of our favorite branded merchandise items that often become the most talked about part of the party! These are also trade show darlings. Bring your brand to life at the event and it will go out in the world to spread the word:

  • Shirts: Stylish shirts are always appreciated.
  • Sunglasses: People are constantly losing theirs.
  • Hats: Fun hats keep the party going.
  • Bags: Totes, backpacks, cross-bodies are utilitarian and stylish.
  • Pens: Newer pens are a fun find.
  • Charging Banks: These can go in a bag so people never run out of juice.
  • Gift Bags with Food: A thoughtful set of cookies or other treats is a sweet send home.
  • Other Branded Merchandise: Items that align with the theme are fresh and unique.

Pro Tip: Hosting your own company awards is rewarding on a number of fronts. Look out for other opportunities to shine light on your team as well through other company-wide awards given by your community, trade associations, and other organizations.

Make Company Awards Rewarding for All

If you follow this checklist, you’ll be able to plan a company awards event that brings your company together in ever more meaningful ways. Need help? Ironmark can help make it one to remember. Whether it’s signage, invitations, other branded merchandise, or the awards themselves, our decades of printing and fulfillment experience in awards events, trade shows, conferences and more can help make your company awards event a rewarding experience for all. Before you know it, you’ll be asked when the next one is happening!

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Written by Lynne Kingsley

Lynne Kingsley oversees the digital marketing client services team as well as the marketing strategy division for the company. Since joining the company in 2016, she has increased Ironmark’s digital presence by over 700%, establishing a new lead generation mechanism for the sales team. A certified inbound marketing professional and HubSpot agency partner, Kingsley has been helping companies transform their marketing function into fully diverse and streamlined growth engines since 2003. With agency and client-side work under her belt, Kingsley’s strategic experience spans both the B2B and B2C sectors. Prior to joining the Ironmark team, she served as in-house marketing director for several non-profit organizations. Kingsley is an honors graduate of the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communication at Syracuse University.
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