Martin Awards

The Ultimate Guide to Planning an Awards Ceremony

Post Date: May 23, 2023

Roll out the red carpet! It’s time to celebrate the hard work and achievements of those in your company with an awards ceremony. Whether recognizing exceptional employees, honoring outstanding achievements in your field, or acknowledging trailblazers, hosting an awards ceremony is a fantastic way to show appreciation and give credit where it’s due.

After all, 53% of employees say they would stay longer in a company if they felt appreciated. But let’s be real, planning an awards ceremony can be a daunting task, even for the most skilled event planners. That’s where we come in.

In this ultimate guide, we’ll show you how to plan and execute an unforgettable awards ceremony that’ll have your guests talking about it for months to come. From choosing the perfect venue, selecting the right awards, picking the best entertainment, and crafting a mouth-watering menu, we’ve got you covered.

Start Planning Early

Our first (and perhaps most important tip)?

It’s never too early to start planning your next corporate awards ceremony. Most companies plan three to six months in advance to ensure a successful event. This gives you enough time to determine your budget, choose a venue, and select a theme that fits your company culture.

You’ll also want to establish a clear set of criteria for recognizing your employees, including performance metrics, team collaboration, or leadership qualities. However, we’ll dive into all of that below.

By planning early, you can also ensure sufficient time is allotted for invitations and RSVPs of your honored guests. Don’t forget the little details like parking, catering, and music to make your event one to remember!

Define Categories for the Awards Ceremony

As you plan your employee recognition awards ceremony, one of the most critical first steps is to define the categories for the awards.

This step is essential as it sets the tone for the entire event and helps you recognize specific behaviors and actions that align with your company’s values. By defining categories, you can ensure that every employee has a fair chance of being recognized and rewarded for their efforts.

It also helps you plan for what kinds of awards you need and how and when you’ll present them during the ceremony. At a loss for where to start? Here are a few great suggestions.

Employee of the Month

One category you might consider is Employee of the Month. This award is an excellent way to recognize employees who consistently exceed expectations. Plus, Employee of the Month wall plaques look impressive when you hang them in your office; they show any visitor or client that you invest in your employees’ satisfaction and career development.

Typically, an Employee of the Month selection is made based on attendance, attitude, and productivity criteria. It’s important to choose achievement metrics based on these things because they’re the factors that make a great employee. However, you can also define your own metrics that make a standout employee within your organization.

Top Sales Performer

Another category you might consider is recognizing the Top Sales Performer. This category is perfect for businesses that rely on sales revenue. Offering a Top Sales plaque is a great way to create a slight sense of competitiveness between salespeople. A little competition never hurt anyone (and definitely won’t hurt your revenue).

You might want to consider metrics such as total gross revenue, specific products or services sold, or the number of new deals generated. These metrics are important because they prove the salesperson is not only hitting their benchmarks but also creating new opportunities and revenue for the business.

Retirement Awards

Recognizing employees who have worked hard and dedicated themselves to the company for many years is important. Retirement awards are the perfect category for this.

Metrics could be the number of years worked, the contributions the employee made at the company, or achievements made during their career. These metrics recognize the employee and emphasize the importance of long-term dedication and commitment.

Ultimately, it’s important to demonstrate appreciation to anybody who is retiring within your organization. If you’re hosting an annual awards ceremony, invite anybody recently retired and let them participate in the festivities as you award them a retirement plaque or something similar.

Other Awards Categories

Of course, there are other awards categories you might consider. These could include awards for:

  • Best customer service
  • Innovation in the workplace
  • Outstanding teamwork

Consider what achievements are most important to your company and find ways to celebrate and recognize them. Metrics can include customer satisfaction ratings, feedback from team members, and specific project achievements.

Appoint an Awards Committee

One of the most important steps when planning an awards ceremony is appointing an awards committee. This group will be responsible for selecting the recipients of each award and ensuring that the selection process is fair and transparent.

To create an awards committee, decide how many members you need. Typically, a committee of five to seven people works well. You can choose members from within your organization or contact industry experts or community members to serve on the committee.

Before they begin the selection process, the committee should establish criteria for each award. This might include job performance, leadership abilities, or community involvement. Once the criteria are in place, committee members can review nominations and select the winners.

It’s important to ensure the selection process is as objective as possible. One way to do this is to have each committee member review nominations independently and then come together to discuss and make a final decision. Ultimately, it’s important to choose your committee members carefully and give them the tools they need to make informed decisions.

Consider the Logistics

Now that you (hopefully) have set a date for your award ceremony and created a guest list, it’s time to consider the logistics. Planning an event can be stressful, but with proper organization, you can ensure that your awards ceremony is a success. Here are some important factors to consider.


The venue you choose can set the tone for your event. You want your guests to feel comfortable, and your chosen space should accommodate your guest list. Ensure you have enough room for seating and tables, and don’t forget about accessibility for those with disabilities.

It’s also important to consider parking and transportation options. Finding a venue that is easy to access and has ample parking can make your guests feel welcome and at ease.


Food is an essential component of any event. When planning your awards ceremony, consider what food and drink you want to serve. Consider simple finger foods and appetizers instead of a fully catered meal if you’re on a tight budget. Or, depending on your business and how close you are to your staff, you could even consider turning it into a potluck.

In addition, make sure you accommodate any dietary restrictions or food allergies your guests may have. Providing a variety of options ensures that all guests can enjoy the food.


Decorations are a key element in creating a memorable awards ceremony. When planning your décor, consider the theme of your event and choose decorations that complement it. Don’t forget to consider the size of your venue, as well as the layout and flow of your event.

From centerpieces to lighting, there are many different elements to consider when it comes to your decorations. Finally, don’t be afraid to get creative. Unique and eye-catching decorations will leave a lasting impression on your guests.

Send Out Invitations

You don’t want to wait until the last minute to invite attendees, as it will decrease their interest in attending the event. So, when should you send out invitations? The ideal time to send out invitations is four to six weeks before the event. This will give people enough time to mark it on their calendars, RSVP, and arrange to attend.

When creating your invitations, make sure to include all the necessary details. People should know the date, location, and time of the event. Including any additional information, such as dress code or parking instructions, is also helpful. Including a personal message to each person you invite can make them feel more valued and excited to attend.

Consider the number of guests you invite to ensure a successful awards ceremony. You don’t want to invite too many people and overcrowd the event or invite too few and make it feel empty. Additionally, double-check that you have the necessary space, food, and drink accommodations for the number of attendees.

Get the Awards

It’s finally time to get the awards you’ll be giving out at your big ceremony. Choosing the right awards is crucial. You want your recipients to feel honored and valued; simple certificates won’t do that.

But with so many corporate award options, it can be hard to decide what type of award will best suit your event and recipients. So, let’s dive into two of the most popular award types: plaques and crystal awards.


Perpetual award plaques or even engraved plaques are a classic choice for awards ceremonies and come in all shapes and sizes. They can be made from wood, metal, or acrylic, often with customizable engravings or designs. Here are some reasons why plaques make a great award choice:

  • Whether you recognize an individual or a team, plaques can be customized to fit any award recipient
  • Plaques are often less expensive than other award types, like crystal awards. This makes them a great option if you’re working within a tight budget
  • With proper care and maintenance, plaques can last for years and serve as a constant reminder of the recipient’s achievements

When it comes to choosing the right plaque for your event, here are a few things to consider:

  • Material type: Different materials can give plaques a unique look and feel. For example, a wooden plaque might feel more traditional, while a metal or acrylic plaque might give off a more modern vibe.
  • Engraving details: Consider what you want to have engraved on the plaque. This could include the recipient’s name, the award name, and the date of the ceremony, among other things.

Ultimately, plaques are a simple yet elegant way to honor employees for their hard work and commitment to your organization.

Crystal Awards

If you’re looking for an award that sparkles, crystal awards might be the way to go. These awards are often hand-crafted and come in various shapes and sizes. Below are some reasons why crystal awards are a popular choice:

  • The translucent properties of crystal make it a beautiful and elegant material for awards. Plus, the way that light reflects off of crystal can create a truly eye-catching effect
  • Because crystal awards are often hand-crafted, they can be customized to fit almost any design or shape
  • Unlike some other award types that might feel dated or out of style after a few years, crystal awards are a timeless choice that will look stylish and sophisticated for years to come

However, here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re considering giving out crystal awards at your ceremony:

  • Budget: Crystal awards tend to be more expensive than other award types, so make sure to factor in your budget when deciding.
  • Engraving options: Like with plaques, consider what you want to say on your engraved glass awards. This could include the recipient’s name, the award name, and the date of the ceremony, among other things.

No matter what award you choose, spend time thinking about what will best suit your event and recipients.

Take Photos & Videos

Taking photos and videos at your awards ceremony is a must. Not only do these images provide cherished memories for attendees, but they’re also powerful tools to boost employee morale. You can share them on social media and internal communications to show off your winners and celebrate their accomplishments.

Plus, photos and videos are great for content marketing. Share them on your website and social media pages to show potential hires, customers, and partners how awesome your company is.

With today’s technology, taking, editing, and sharing high-quality photos and videos is easy. So don’t miss out on this opportunity! Assign someone to capture the best moments of your awards ceremony.

Work with Martin Awards

At Martin Awards, we understand the importance of recognizing and appreciating hard-working employees. That’s why we offer various award types, from plaques and trophies to medals and ribbons — all designed to fit different needs and budgets. Our awards are made with high-quality materials and attention to detail, so you can be sure your recipients will feel proud and honored.

Moreover, we offer custom orders to accommodate your unique needs, and our team is always ready to answer any questions. With Martin Awards, you can trust that your next awards ceremony will be a success and a memorable experience for everyone involved.

Have questions? Get in touch!

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