It's June and with six months to go - Christmas will be here before you know it!
It’s only June we know, and the sun is shining, (well it is for us anyway), but it’s never too soon to start thinking about the office Christmas party – trust us – it’ll be here before you know it (just over 6 months in fact)!
Here’s a few of our top tips to get you into the festive spirit and realise how much there is to do to ensure it’s a party to remember.
- It’s all about the planning - Christmas is a busy period, the busiest of the year for many people when it comes to social events, so diaries fill up fast. That means you want to get a date pencilled in as early as possible. Send a few dates around the office and go with the one in which most of your colleagues are able to attend, this will give you a good indication on numbers for the event to help with further planning. When the date is identified we advise sending out a save the date email as quickly as possible even if you know nothing about the full details of the party as this will likely get as many people to the event as possible.
- Budget is everything – The budget will have a huge impact on the type of Christmas party you organise, determining everything from the food and drink, to the entertainment and choice of venue and is probably the most important thing to establish early on after the date of the event itself. Knowing the budget will allow you to plan effectively so you know that you are not planning something to extravagant if the budget doesn’t allow for it.
- Create a Theme – There are almost endless options when it comes to Christmas party themes, and depend on many factors, including the location, budget, numbers attending and how much you want to be directly involved in planning and managing the event. You could keep it traditional with the standard Christmas jumper and traditional Christmas dinner or you could venture away from Christmas entirely and go for a random Hawaiian themed event for example. Your staff may appreciate an outside the box approach as this may engage them and encourage them to attend, instead of putting on the traditional Christmas style party.
- Find a Venue - The quicker you book the better as the good venues are likely to go fast. Identify venues that have the availability on the date and are within budget and pay attention to accessibility to the venue for guests. No one really wants a long walk or expensive taxi ride to and from the venue if this can be helped. Go on a site visit and check what you can use at the venue and what you will have to hire in, such as furniture, equipment, decorations and staff on the night. A site visit will also give you a great feel for a venue and help considerably when deciding if the venue is suitable for the theme of your event.
Here’s just some of our favourite venues…
Sea Containers London
With seven different types of meeting rooms the Sea Containers London can offer something truly unique to your Christmas party. You can have anything from a private intimate event in their private dining, pamper yourselves in the Aqua Spa Lounge, or try out one of their many cocktails at 12th Knot with the backdrop of the River Thames behind you.
The Walled Garden
Located in the beautiful South Downs West Sussex, The Walled Garden allows to you choose one of their hand-picked caterers from their Event Suppliers’ List to create a bespoke celebration for your Christmas party with exclusive use of the venue’s Castle Room, Courtyard Room and the beautiful Walled Garden.
Based in the heart of Manchester, the Principal Manchester is a venue not to be missed for that lavish Christmas party, certainly their Ballroom if you’re in need of a sizeable space for up to 1000 guests. Don’t just think of the Principal Manchester as a large venue though, they certainly know how to cater for a smaller and personal experience.
De Vere Wokefield Park Estate
The estate is home to the state-of-the-art Wokefield Place and the classic Wokefield Mansion House and is filled with character, thanks to their original features. To hold your Christmas party here would be one to remember with its historic charm blended with modern style.
Back to our top tips...
- Officially Invite Guests – Now that the date, venue and theme are sorted it is time to officially invite your guests. Invites can be tailored to the theme of your event to create excitement and intrigue around the event. Don’t forget to get your guests to RSVP as soon as possible so you can firm up numbers and plan the event day itself accordingly.
- Have fun with Food – Food is a key part to any event and great food equals happy guests. Food leaves an emotional mark on guests and leaves them with good memories so therefore it is important to get this right. Don’t feel like you have to stick with turkey, especially if you’re planning to eat at a venue with a specialist restaurant. A traditional Christmas dinner done badly is worse than having no turkey at all. Another top tip is to arrange a menu tasting session with the venue so you can try different food combinations from the menu and make sure what you are getting on the event itself will leave that lasting impression.
- Don’t skimp with the entertainment – Entertainment on the night can be one of the most talked about parts of the event along with the food. Getting this right can really leave a lasting impression on your guests and can help to really bring people together. Entertainment such as live performers in the form of comedians, stunt shows, circus acts or after-dinner speakers (for example) really engage the audience. There could also be games such as casino tables, murder mystery, giant Jenga, pool tables and arcade machines to allow pockets of guests to enjoy something a bit different throughout the evening. Another great way to entertain is by using a magician that works the room from table to table entertaining guests a table at a time. To achieve the best combination of entertainment it is important to understand the theme of your event and the target audience who are attending – wow factor for a 20 year old is likely to be a lot different to say a 45 year old.
- Take a snapshot of those memorable experiences – it’s all about photos – Go old school with disposable cameras on tables, this will engage your guests and capture the moments of fun at your event. Another way to snapshot memories is by having a photobooth at your event.
- Get everyone home safe – Ensuring guests can get to and from the event safely is a must for any successful event. Maybe the venue has accommodation on site and if this is the case then encourage people to stay onsite. If people need to arrive and leave the venue then it is important to ensure that adequate taxis are available at the peak times to transfer staff to and from the event. Collecting taxi numbers and putting them on a document to guests and sending this out in advance will help guests to plan ahead and find adequate transport to get home.
Don’t forget, if all this sounds like a lot of work (which it is), here at HTS we love to plan a Christmas party to remember and would love to chat through our ideas…