So the summer holidays are over. That familiar chill has returned to the mornings and darkness is starting to consume the evenings all too quickly. It can only mean one thing … Christmas is on its way!
Firstly we apologise to anyone who’s just had that ‘oh no’ feeling! However, if you are charged with organising something as big as a Christmas staff party, then this post should serve as a helpful nudge to get moving with your plans sooner rather than later, because there is heaps to do!
The good news is, the outstandingly organised people at Sourcerer are here to help. So if you are currently holding your head in your hands, recalling last year’s Christmas event and how it consumed all your time, we have some useful advice for you to make it much less of a chore this time around. And of course, as professional event planners, we can always help you in a practical sense, in whatever capacity suits you. Have a think about it – there’s still time – well, a little!
Christmas Party Planning Checklist
1. Set the Date
You may think dealing with this step further down the line is more logical, once you have decided on the theme and venue. But if you go making bookings before you are aware of what date suits the majority, then you could find yourself facing a dilemma. The festive season is a busy time when it comes to social calendars, so don’t delay and get those potential dates out there to gauge majority preference. Once decided, send a save the date email and note any ‘cannot attends’. Now you have your numbers, even a rough idea, it makes everything so much easier!
2. Set the Budget
Before you start any sort of planning you need to be clear on the budget. This will have a major impact on the party style and venue so you need to be certain from the start. Don’t forget to include a contingency to deal with unexpected expenses – they always tend to arise – so don’t spend it all at once!
3. Decide the Party Style
So now you know the budget it makes it easier to work out what type of party you can afford to hold. There are ways to rein in costs, so if you have your heart set on a fancy do, but are trying to stick to a limited budget, think about things like holding the party earlier in the year – November dates will often be less costly than December slots – and consider the day of the week. Parties are more often than not held towards the end of the week or at the weekend. Go for a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday and it’s likely you’ll enjoy cheaper rates. You could even consider a January party instead, a welcome to the New Year – that way you’ve got a little more time – and you will be able to negotiate favourable prices.
There are three main types of party to choose from. Bespoke events take a lot of organising with venue hire, theming, catering and entertainment all to deal with individually, but they can be very memorable and have a lovely tailored feel about them. Pre-packaged Christmas parties supplied by venues – where you get a meal, crackers and drinks followed by entertainment – are often good value for money, but a little less personalised. And then you have your lunch or dinner in a local bar or restaurant with those who wish to going on for drinks or dancing afterwards. It really depends on the personalities involved, and of course the budget. Don’t forget to factor in things such as whether partners are invited as well as transport and accommodation if necessary.
4. Book the Venue
The venue will suit the party style and budget, will need to have capacity to accommodate your numbers, and of course have your preferred date available. Precisely why all the other steps need to come first! Think about location and accessibility too, and if necessary, whether there is overnight accommodation nearby. If you can’t decide at this stage, try making a few provisional bookings to keep your options open. During your research, have your preferred choice, then a plan B and plan C too, so that if you cannot get what you want, you are ready with a back-up and don’t have to return to the drawing board.
5. Choose a Theme
You don’t have to theme your Christmas party, but it does help make it memorable and is a great ice breaker too. Setting a theme and styling the venue is fun, but if you are lost for inspiration, speak to a professional party planner, as they’ll have lots of ideas. You can tie the theme in with your business somehow, perhaps a 1970s or 1980s theme for example if that’s when it was established. Film inspired themes are often popular, or you could go for a popular TV show, a location-based theme such as Spanish or Hawaiian, or something music-orientated. Whatever you choose you’ll need to incorporate it into every aspect of your party, so perhaps think about how you’ll do that before you disclose anything!
Don’t forget that an experienced events planner will be experienced in event theming and venue styling, so if you really want to go to town, get professional help! Last year, Sourcerer Events organised a large scale bespoke Christmas party for AVL Powertrain Ltd. The theme was Hollywood, and we really went to town on making every aspect of the event fit, with 7-foot Oscar statues, filmstrip props and a giant Hollywood sign. We even arranged usherettes to dispense popcorn in AVL’s corporate colour blue. Needless to say, it was a most memorable evening for all, including Sourcerer!
6. Organise Transport
Make getting to the venue hassle-free for everyone, and don’t forget arrangements for getting guests home safely too. Book taxis or mini-buses well in advance as these services are well in demand during the festive season. If you are holding a bespoke event, you may want to tie in the transport with your theme, such as hiring a bus decked out in 1970s garb, or Hollywood style limos.
7. Finishing Touches
The finishing touches will depend on your party style. A bespoke event will call for far more finishing touches such as cloakrooms and security for example, as well as corporate coloured popcorn and logo-decorated cakes of course!
If you are holding a packaged event or meal in a restaurant, then think about goody bags or personalised crackers. You may also want to hire a professional photographer to capture the event. Lots of businesses use such mementoes in their marketing and social media to show their customers what a nice company they are and how they take care of their staff. If you are watching the budget but fancy this idea, look for a student photographer who will do a good job for a fraction of the price.
Help is at Hand if you Need it!
We sincerely hope you have found some inspiration and useful advice in this post! If you would like a splash more, or have decided to make this year the year you call in professional event planning assistance, please get in touch! We look forward to helping you make your Christmas party a real cracker!
Shelley Morris of Sourcerer Wedding Planning & Event Management
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