It’s an established tradition among professional circles and a favorite event for employees.

Work-related parties with gag gifts, legendary coworker antics and plenty of imbibing are a prerequisite for many managers and their workers during the holidays.

However, the responsibility of ensuring all your colleagues have a blast can be a heavy burden. But don’t fret; there are plenty of ways to make a memorable holiday party.

We’ve compiled a blueprint that covers the bare essentials for any professional gathering over the holidays. From guest lists to bar tabs, our 2013 Holiday Event Planner has you covered.

The Partygoers & the Budget

The first step in any party planning is creating a guest list.

“You need to figure what type of crowd you want to host and who those people are,” says Catie Harris, president of Simply Event, LLC. The Cincinnati-based company offers full-service event planning for social and corporate parties.

One of the biggest issues, Harris says, is deciding on whether or not to keep it family-oriented or adults only.

“It all depends on what type of environment the company is trying to promote,” she says. “Some like to keep it kid-friendly while others make it strictly adult with a full bar.”

Whether you’re trying to cut loose with cocktails and coworkers or have a family environment with children involved, the guest list will establish the atmosphere.

After you figure out who’s invited, consider the budget.

Everyone wants to have that blowout bash employees remember for years. Unfortunately, limited funding can make that a challenge.

“It’s very easy to let your budget snowball if you don’t set it ahead,” says Harris.

One of the biggest costs for any party comes from the bar. Alcohol can make or break any party. Obviously, attendees would prefer having an open bar but if finances restrict there’s more than one option.

“Companies know their employees better than we do, but I see a lot of them provide drink tickets,” says Diana Dawson, owner of Davis Catering. Dawson has been catering social and corporate events for 40 years and seen her fair share of corporate holiday parties.

“Usually they provide two drink tickets and then the bar is cash from there on,” she says.

Another popular option is sharing an open bar cost among all employees or asking employees to provide their own spirits. Either way, there are plenty of routes for lessening the cost of drinks.

The Venue & Charity

This might be the most important step. Without a proper location, your party could be a dud.

Fortunately for Tristaters, there are plenty of reception areas for a great bash.

If your company or organization requires space, the Sharonville Convention Center provides a perfect fit.

“Our ballroom is slightly larger than 14,000 square feet, complimentary building-wide wi-fi and one of the only facilities in the area with complimentary parking with 1,100 spaces,” says Jim Downton, Sharonville Convention Center executive director.

The center is a great location for a large business trying to bring everyone together during December, but Downton says he’s seen a shift in the way large companies host holiday parties.

“We host a lot of events that are centered on employee contributions to charitable organizations during the winter months,” says Downton. “As times move on, people get a little more creative with their parties.”

Harris says she’s witnessed the same trend.

“I’ve seen it where the event is free but they want you to bring a gift for a charity,” she says. “People want to make it beneficial to a charity, while socially promoting the company’s culture.”

If your company doesn’t have the manpower to fill up a large ballroom, you’re in a great position to get original.

One of the most important parts of an annual event is making it special compared to years past. Instead of keeping with the status quo, turn a small soiree into an intimate evening employees remember for years to come.

You can discover one of those evenings on the Ohio River with Destiny Yachts. The charter cruise offers a full bar, a kitchen staff and a majestic view of the city you won’t find anywhere else.

“We have windows on both levels with an amazing view of the city,” says Dawn Krollmann, Destiny Yachts owner and cruise coordinator. “It makes it even more special when it’s the holidays.”

If you think the Ohio River in December is too cold for cruising, the 110-foot yacht has two enclosed decks that are climate-controlled. The yacht also has an outside upper deck for those looking to experience the winter elements along with a nighttime view of the Queen City skyline.

“You can really experience the city’s holiday charm with this cruise,” says Krollmann. “It beats having an event at a hall.”

The Location & Dinner

There’s no doubt you want coworkers to have fun, but its nearly certain many holiday parties will be serving alcohol. This creates a problem for attendees driving, but there are a couple simple solutions.

Having a party at a hotel or reception is an easy way for people to enjoy themselves without worrying about driving.

“Understandably, a lot of business don’t want to send people out after drinking,” says Dawson. She says it’s not uncommon for a business to reserve a hotel banquet center along with a block of rooms.

“We cater for one large and well-known company almost every year, and they always have their holiday party at a hotel,” says Dawson. “The alcohol does make for a lively party, but you don’t want to be driving afterward.”

While the drinks, charitable giving and social mixing are necessary ingredients for a fun party, the holiday meal is usually the linchpin for the evening. Like the bar, there are plenty of options for dinner as well.

“Some corporations do elaborate sit-down dinners, while others do a simple buffet,” says Davis. “It’s really across the board.”

There are many options, but Davis says chicken, a fillet of beef or fish is the customary entrée. Some attendees provide a menu for all three, while others stick with one.

“We can pretty much provide for whatever they’re looking for,” says Dawson.