Planning a Christmas party? Don’t panic! We’ve got an A-Z to help you get started…
A - Accommodation – keep in mind those who may be travelling more of a distance. Overnight accommodation often ensures a higher turnout for your event. On-site accommodation can be great, but ideally the nearer to the venue the better.
B - Book in advance! Christmas parties are always best when they have been prepared in plenty of time. If you have a fantastic venue for your Christmas event there’s nothing stopping you from booking again as soon as January comes around. A lot of venues offer reduced rates, and your venue can still be transformed next year by picking a different theme. Scroll down to ‘T’ to find out more.
C – Catering is a key part of the delegate experience, so make sure you serve up a dish that delegates will want to post on the ‘gram. Food engages with so many of the senses, and ties the event together. It doesn’t have to be sprouts and mince pies either – Christmas cuisine is starting to move away from the traditional as delegates want to try new spins of classic favourites and adventure with their taste buds. At Lime Venue Portfolio, part of global caterer, Compass Group, we know how important food is to an event, luckily all of our venues have amazing chefs creating tasty Christmas experiences. If staying away, ensure that breakfast is provided for the weary-eyed!
D - Drinks upon arrival are guaranteed get the party started and the conversation flowing. Bottles of wine provided at the table are almost commonplace, so ensure guests are aware if there will be drinks provided at the table and what their options may be. It is a good idea to have the option of a bar to ensure other drink options can be provided. Make sure there are interesting mocktails and other non-alcoholic alternatives too.
E – Envision your venue once it has been draped and dolled up to the 9’s! A lot of event spaces can be totally transformed but sometimes you have to use your imagination. A venue on a budget can still be spruced up and transformed into something impressive, particularly with some careful thought! Drapes, lighting, balloons and flowers are just a few of the things you should think about.
F - Feedback is a great way to gauge the success of your event. You can create a short survey to find out what guests enjoyed and what they didn’t, and can be done easily via email or online. This can help you when organising next year’s party to make it even better than the last one.
G – Get donating! Your Xmas event could be the perfect opportunity for a raffle or auction, with proceedings going to a good cause. This could be a local charity or something more personal, and are good for getting the party spirit going on the night and engages guests. Raising money for a good cause often raises peoples’ spirits as well, and could be a good opportunity to post about your efforts on social media or for PR purposes. Everyone’s a winner!
H – Hashtag your event. If you don’t want to foot the bill for a personalised filter (see ‘P’ for more info) then creating a hashtag for your event is a way to encourage engagement on social platforms and can be fantastic if you have any sponsors #spreadtheword
I – Impersonators and look-a-likes, fire breathers and magicians. From Marilyn Monroe to Elvis or MJ, a good impersonator that fits in with the theme can be a fun addition to the party. This adds to the experience element as guests can interact with them, take selfies and document the event on their social channels.
J – Jazz? Pop? Rock? Music is another key factor to setting the scene, so consider your options. A live band, acoustic artist or a suitable DJ can all help to set the mood so make sure you choose wisely so that your music helps add to the mood and atmosphere of the event.
K – Know your audience! Events as a whole are becoming more and more personalised, so you need to tap in to your audience in order to connect with them. You can always present your top 3 venue choices and themes to the decision maker for reassurance and encouragement.
L – Logistics. Make sure that all transport has been booked in advance if your accommodation is a short trip from the venue. If you’re exploring another city for your Xmas ‘do, planning your logistics is key to avoid a ‘Home Alone’ scenario. Don’t say we didn’t warn you…
M – Manage your money. Once you’ve figured out your budget, stick to it. A lot of venues offer themed parties or packages accommodating different budgets, e.g. ‘all inclusive’ packages which are cost effective. Shared parties are a popular option to cut down on costs, as venues offering shared events have already got themes and entertainment covered. We’d also recommend assigning some of the budget for ‘emergencies’ so you have still got some flexibility once everything has been covered.
N – Notice periods for Christmas are key for delegates who may need to arrange additional transport, childcare or otherwise. Let people know provisional dates even if you are still waiting to confirm your venue. As the saying goes, the more the merrier!
O – O is for Opportunity, as everyone loves a chance to take a snap in their glad rags or document the fantastic theme. Selfies can be taken with cardboard photo frames or branded insta-frames, or if you have more of a budget you could consider booking a photo booth or photographer that can provide delegates with prints to take home and frame. It is also a great excuse for people to share their experience on social media.
P - Personalised filters. This one is a fun addition, as social platforms such as Snapchat allow you to create your own filter – at a cost. You can create a unique filter for guests to use during the course of the event which includes the date, a company logo or the name of the venue - a nice memento from the event! If this is out of your budget, basic personalisation is still required so guests know where to be seated. Perhaps you could use dinner table name tags that double up as key rings to take home? Try and be creative.
Q – Quizzes can be both fun and informative, recapping on or highlighting the years’ achievements, or focused on Christmas song lyrics for a relaxed feel. Any games or quizzes are best done towards the start of the event, as they are a great activity to get people talking before people have indulged on too many mulled wines.
R – be Reasonable! Keep track of your budget and your predicted spend, and try and have a little budget leftover for any last minute requirements. If there have been budget cuts or redundancies across the business then you need to be seen spending accordingly. Perhaps you don’t need that ice sculpture after all?
S – Set the tone with a suitable dress code for your event. Black-tie and cocktail dresses ensure everyone keeps it classy, and this works for a number of themes. If a fancy dress theme would tie into your venue, it is something worth discussing with the decision maker. Think of a castle venue with a medieval theme, where guests can arrive in fake chain mail or as their favourite GOT character. If this isn’t really your thing, you can opt for a ‘White Christmas’ dress code to lean towards a theme whilst still fitting in with a smart dress code.
T - Themes are always a winner at Christmas. Whether a black tie ‘007’ theme, Great Gatsby or otherwise, themed parties where everyone looks the part give a feeling of inclusion and comradery. If this ties in with entertainment (e.g. music from the correct era or roulette tables for Casino Royale vibes). Decorations, balloons - the options are endless.
U –Uh oh! Venue already booked up? Expect unavailability if you’re late in planning. December bookings always see Thursday’s and Friday’s get snapped up quickly. There can sometimes be perks to booking late, but you need to be aware that most dates left over will be Monday and Tuesday nights. Get stuck? Why not give Lime Venue Portfolio a call on 0845 128 7395 and the team will let you know the latest availability for Christmas packages and offers across 90+ nationwide venues – so wherever you are they can find a Christmas party happening near you.
V – Venue choice is key. A medieval Christmas really party comes together when guests arrive to a historic venue such as a castle, lit by candlelight. Unique venues can really tie a theme together and make an impact from the get go. Decisions, decisions!
W – What could possibly go wrong? Good event planners and organisers tend to anticipate any issues that could arise. Whether someone has been served the wrong starter, or there’s a technical glitch with the microphone, if you’ve planned for any issues it is easier to keep things running smoothly as you have already resolved the problem before it occurs. It could be as simple as having a few jokes up your sleeve or keeping the band on for an extra 5 minutes whilst you swap microphones.
X – X marks the spot! Some Christmas parties include fun and games, so why not consider a treasure hunt? They may take time to prepare but it is a fun way to incorporate team-building into an event. Consider the size of the venue and number of rooms available to decide whether this is a realistic option or not.
Y – Your P’s and Q’s… your acknowledgement is vital, make sure you thank everyone who has helped or contributed to the party – the caterers, the band, the bar staff, waiters and waitresses, any guest speakers, and the delegates for attending of course!
Z – Zzzzzz – planning a Christmas party is a lot of pressure so try and be organised and you won’t lose too much sleep! Preparation and planning will allow you to really enjoy the event and see it through until the end until you can finally catch some Z’s.
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