Yes, it might seem early. But save yourself the trouble and think about it now, get planning early and you’ll thank yourself in the long run. We’ve pulled together some top tips for planning a Christmas party because we know how important that end of year celebration is.
Finding the perfect Christmas party venue is an important step and when you’ve secured that there are other important factors to consider. There is a tendency for people to get crazy about Christmas parties. The pressure, the stress.
No one wants to go to last year’s venue, but equally no one seems to have any bright ideas about where they do actually want to go. Without having any suggestions themselves, they are absolutely sure that you will find that elusive, perfect place.
So, before you get overwhelmed by the options and bogged down in the details, take a look at some of our top tips for planning a Christmas party.
Top tips for planning a Christmas party
Location, Location, Location
Does it need to be right next door to the train station so the CEO can make an early exit? If you can venture further afield, narrow your search and concentrate on one area. Making your Christmas party venue search a lot easier.
If you can’t find a location that’s perfect, put aside a bit of budget for transport and research the options.
Is there a cab company nearby that you could enlist to shuttle people to and from the station? If it’s a bigger affair, what about a coach or two?
You might find that the money you save from looking outside your ideal area in central London will pay for the transport you need.
Put aside your own tastes and think what will be best received. A warehouse in Hackney? A pub in Soho? Or a swanky bar in Mayfair? And don’t be daunted by a venue that’s a bit of a blank canvas. It doesn’t take a lot to spruce somewhere up – and it’s a chance to put your own stamp on it.
When looking at the decor, remember that if you’re viewing a venue during the day, it will look very different on a December evening.
Some clever lighting does wonders for transforming the atmosphere. Think about touches you could add – like flowers on the tables, candles, whatever you think might suit the occasion.
Need help finding a venue? Take a look at our featured London Christmas Party Venues for some inspiration.
Food & Drink
Need some Christmas party food ideas? Whether you choose canapés or a sit-down meal? Be aware of what your guests are expecting and try and match that. If everyone turns up in cocktail dresses and heels and there’s not a cocktail in sight, it might be a tad awkward…
When thinking about food, our top tip is to think practically. Go with your head, not your gut. Mini bowls of risotto look delicious, but if you have a standing-only venue, and everyone is holding a glass of wine in one hand . . . you get the problem!
Canapés, similarly, should be one-bite affairs – no one wants to be stuck in an awkward conversation trying to elegantly eat a mini burger.
If you are pre-ordering drinks, take into account some different options. Your favourite cocktails might be Cosmopolitans, Mai Ta’is and Pina Coladas, but you need a bit of a variety. Try an Old Fashioned for those who aren’t into the fruity cocktails, a Mojito for something on the safe side and an Espresso Martini for later on.
As for wine – estimating how much people are going to drink can seem like a stab in the dark, but it’s important to have an idea when you’re looking after a budget.
Our advice would be to usually work to a ratio of two bottles of white to every red, and around half a bottle of wine per person. But ask the advice of your venue and they will be able to point you in the right direction.
And always make sure you have some contingency money! As soon as you arrive find who your contact is at the venue and check in with them periodically so you can be kept updated.
Christmas Party Decorations
Planning an office Christmas party means you need to get down to the nitty gritty which includes thinking about the decorations.
This will largely depend on your venue, but you need to think about how you will decorate the Space you have for your Christmas party.
The venue may have their own supply of Christmas party decorations so make sure you ask what they have to offer and how they can decorate the Space for you. If the decorations aren’t quite what you had in mind make sure you plan into your budget the cost of buying the decorations in.
Christmas Party Games
Let’s be honest, no Christmas party is complete without games. From old school, classics like pass the parcel to more adult-friendly Christmas party games they’re a great way to break the ice and get everybody in the festive spirit.
A few of our favourites include Christmas movie trivia, basically, a Christmas themed pub quiz. Or how about Christmas themed charades, a scavenger hunt or Christmas themed drinking games. Our one piece of advice would be to get creative with your games, you know your colleagues best so you know what they will like.
And this one might sound obvious, but after all the stress of planning the whole event, it’s tempting to arrive at the party, throw your arms in the air and launch into your glass of wine.
But your work’s not done until the party’s done – and you need to be on hand to sort out any crises. Put another event in your diary for a couple of days later – a nice dinner, a trip to a cocktail bar, that will be your own celebration after you’ve pulled off the perfect Christmas party!
These are the fundamentals. But as a wise man once said, you can’t please all the people all the time. So decide what matters most and what you’re willing to compromise on.
If your list of criteria is as long as your arm, cut it down to the bare essentials and focus on those.
Be realistic about how much of your own time and effort you can contribute to putting together the event. If this is something you want to book and forget about, find a venue that will handle it all for you. But if you want to choose everything, from the playlist to the wine list, make sure your chosen venue can accommodate all your input. And lastly, but most importantly, don’t forget your budget . . .
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