A guide to organising a Christmas party in London

Written by Mae Bristow - 04 July 2024

guide to planning a christmas party in london

So you’re organising a Christmas party for the first time, or maybe you’ve done it before and it was a stressful, chaotic experience and you want to do your homework this year. Whether you’re organising the office Christmas outing or getting a large group of friends together for dinner, drinks and dancing, no matter the size of the event, it always pays to get a little guidance along the way.

We’ve made a business out of organising meetings & events and made it our business to know the best London venues. Sit back with a cup of tea or coffee, and pull out your notes, we’re going to tell you how to organise a Christmas event in London from step 1 through to rubbing your belly because you feasted too much at the Christmas dinner.

guide to christmas party london

Step 1. Date and time

When to book a Christmas party venue

The time frame depends on whether you’re booking a large, midsize, or small Christmas party. A large party is 50 guests and up; a mid-sized party is 20 — 50 guests, and a small Christmas party would be less than 20 guests. The rule of thumb is the bigger the party the more time you need to plan and you’ll want to book a venue as soon as possible.

For large parties plan in July and secure a Christmas party venue in July/early August. For mid-sized parties secure a venue in August/September, and for smaller Christmas parties book a venue by early October.

The other aspect to consider is time of day—are you planning a Christmas lunch or dinner, a party that goes late into the evening or is it a day-to-night Christmas event? Lastly, note that a November or January date will likely be cheaper than an in-demand December date.

Step 2. Set a budget

Check out our comprehensive London venue pricing guide to get an idea of venue types, hire fees, and FAQs. In summary, create a detailed budget that covers venue hire, catering, entertainment, decorations, and any additional costs. Allocate funds accordingly and keep track of expenses to ensure you stay within budget.

Venue pricing at a glance

Rates for party venue hires made through HeadBox:

  • Median price per head: £19
  • Median budget: £1000

Rates for conference/event venue hires made through HeadBox:

  • Median price per head: £25
  • Median budget: £3,500

Rates for private dining room hires made through HeadBox:

  • Median price per head: £66
  • Median budget: £1,500

Bear in mind the cost per head and overall budget will differ due to certain variables such as a November date (usually cheaper) versus a more in-demand December date, as well as location, venue size, formality (casual or black-tie), whether there’s a sit-down meal, canapés, a buffet, and so on.

guide to planning a christmas party in london

Step 3. Selecting a venue

When you’ve completed your planning, set a budget, and have an estimate of your guest count, it’s time to select a venue. A Google search will give you an endless amount of options, many of which won’t be specific to your requirements.

At HeadBox we’ve found a way to stop you endless searching. By submitting a brief with your requirements we match your event details to relevant venues. The venues that have availability and can cater to your Christmas party requirements will then directly message you to discuss a booking.

Once you’re in direct communication with potential venues, present pre-planned questions to leave no detail out and ensure the venue is the right match for your Christmas party. If it’s green lights all across the board, ensure you and the venue sign a contract and/or place a deposit to secure your booking.

Note: Some venues may only require a deposit to secure a booking whilst others may require full pre-payment and still others may only require a minimum food & beverage spend on the day, all these details should be agreed upon and finalised before signing a contract/securing your booking to ensure you stay within budget.

guide to planning a christmas party in london

Venue types

Is your Christmas party personal or corporate, casual, semi-formal or black tie, and what venue would be most ideal? A hall or ballroom, conference/event venue, restaurant & bar with private dining or a full book out, pub dining room, or a unique venue.

Location & transportation

Know where you want to source a venue, neighbourhood or venue, and look at nearby transport links like the Underground, Overground, and rail links, and if you have guests with accessibility needs ensure these transport links are step-free or easy access for taxis.

Popular areas in London for a Christmas party include Central (the boroughs of Westminster and Camden) and the West End, Kensington & Chelsea, Shoreditch, the City of London and London Bridge.


The most common facilities requested of venues include Disability access and toilets, a cloakroom, WiFi, audio-visual equipment for presentations and video content, a PA system (microphones, speakers, amplifiers), a DJ booth and/or music-playing capabilities, a lighting system, a green room/dressing room for entertainers, a dance floor, and occasionally, on-site parking.

Many event venues and hotel event spaces include the above-mentioned facilities, however, if you’re booking a party in a venue like a cocktail bar or pub dining room you’ll want to ask what facilities the venue has to offer.

For large venues, is there an event manager/team to help plan, organise, decorate, and ensure the smooth running of the event?

Lastly, many of the facilities come included with a venue hire fee, however, sometimes these come at an additional cost such as a tech team organising the AV (audio-visual equipment) at big organisations. To avoid any miscommunication, let the venue know what facilities you expect with your budget and ensure this is included when you sign a contract/secure your booking.

guide to planning a christmas party in london


Some Christmas parties are drinks and a meal but other Christmas outings are more of events, if you’re looking for the latter here are some questions to put to venues: Can the venue source entertainment (DJs, bands, performers) for you or, alternatively, can you bring in your own? Are there extras like a photo booth, karaoke set-up, and a games area (i.e., Christmas parties held at crazy golf/boules/other games venues)? Is there space for a dance floor or will space be cleared after dining?

guide to planning a christmas party in london

Step 4. Catering and beverage

A party isn’t a party without the food and drinks. Whilst the classic Christmas dinner is always popular, there’s no reason to stay within the box for a festive event. There are many types of restaurants and venues that offer a variety of cuisines which are often more popular with guests who don’t want to gamble on the turkey being dry or the vegetarian feeling limited to yet another nut roast. Speaking of veggie, know the dietary requirements of your guests and double-check with the venue before and on the day of the booking.

guide to planning a christmas party in london

Clarify what kind of party you want to organise—a Christmas brunch, lunch or dinner. Decide whether you want a sit-down meal, set menu, or buffet, small plates or a canapé reception. Bear in mind if you want to book an entire Italian restaurant or a large event venue, what’s on offer in terms of catering will be drastically different.

Many event venues will offer in-house catering and beverages, whilst some venues will be a dry hire (hiring the venue space only) and allow you to organise external catering. Venues like restaurants and pub dining rooms often have set menus and these are commonly priced per head or these venues may have a minimal food & beverage spend required for your booking.

In restaurants and bars, there are often drinks packages available or a minimum bar spend, for other types of venues clarify if they have an on-site bar or arrange the beverages for you.

guide to planning a christmas party in london

Step 5. Decorations and themes

A theme for your Christmas party is elective but undoubtedly every person organising a Christmas event will want there to be festive decorations to add to the ambience and get everybody in the spirit of the holidays.

Many venues will be appropriately decorated for the Christmas season but if you want something specific be sure to ask if they have it or if you’re allowed to decorate an event space or private dining room yourself. Some event venues include decorations like candles, Christmas crackers, wreaths, festoon lights, and the like as part of the venue hire fee but you’ll want to clarify what decorations are included.

guide to planning a christmas party in london

Step 6. Finalising details

When you’re satisfied you’ve got the right venue in the location you’re after and they have confirmed your date and time, catering and beverage, entertainment and amenities, secure the booking with a deposit, or payment in full, or with a contract—however the venue finalises bookings.

Once the venue is booked, finalise all event details in collaboration with the venue. Provide them with a detailed schedule of your event, including setup and breakdown times if applicable. Confirm the list of services they will provide and any external vendors you plan to use. Regular communication with the venue team can ensure that everything runs smoothly on the day of the event. Make sure to address any last-minute changes or concerns to avoid any issues during the event.

guide to planning a christmas party in london

Step 7. Invitations and RSVPs

Once the venue is secured send out your invitations as soon as possible and set a deadline for RSVPs so that you can confirm all of this with the venue. With your invitation include necessary information like times, locations, dress code, and an option for guests to specify dietary requirements.

xmas party in london

Step 8. Communication and final preparations

Confirm all bookings and arrangements a few days before the event. Coordinate with the venue regarding setup, timings, and any last-minute adjustments, and if it’s a big Christmas event, prepare a schedule for the event to ensure everything runs smoothly and (where applicable) keep communication open with any event planners.

Otherwise, turn up, be looked after, and enjoy the food, drinks and atmosphere along with your guests. Enjoy & be merry.