Whether it's a small scale corporate party you're planning for your employees or you've got stakeholders and big clients to impress, it's essential to plan every aspect of your Christmas party well in advance. By taking into account even the smallest of details - those little things that are easily overlooked - you can elevate a good Christmas party into one that's great.
We've been hiring out furniture to clients for nearly 3 decades now and we've learned a thing or two about event planning in that time! The ingredients of a perfect corporate Christmas party don't need to be left to chance, so we thought we'd put our years of experience to good use!
1. Choose and book your venue as soon as possible
It's a fact that popular venues get booked up quickly, some even get booked a year in advance, so if you want to have the best pick of both dates and venues, it's never too early to start planning! Nothing says 'disorganised' quite as much as Christmas party on a Tuesday in January!
When considering an event space think about capacity first and foremost. Too large and you'll probably be paying for extra space you don't need, and worse, it will look empty if you can't fill it - an instant party-vibe killer. Secondly, if it's too small, guests may feel uncomfortable, so make sure you have guest numbers to hand and choose a venue accordingly.
As well as thinking about venue capacity also think practically, what does the venue hire include? A package makes life nice and easy but means you may be limited on decoration and entertainment options for example.
What about the location? If you're not laying on transport, how will staff get there? Are there good public transport links so people can get home easily? Are there hotels in the immediate area so people can choose to party the night away and then crash somewhere nearby should they want to?
2. Set the date and let everyone know
Once you've booked the venue, make sure you let employees or any clients you might be inviting know the date. We all lead increasingly busy lives and weekends are typically booked up many months in advance, but if you're planning a Christmas party in the peak month of December, weekends are likely to be even more limited.
The more notice you can give people, the more likely it is they'll be able to find a gap in their diary and importantly, organise things like child care and accommodation should they need to.
Finally, when it comes to the day of the week the party is on, no one wants to go out partying and then have to drag themselves into work early the following morning! There's nothing guaranteed to dampen spirits more than holding your Christmas do a on a week night - make it a Friday or a Saturday night to stand the best chance of people wanting to come along, and not having to deal with an almost-empty office the day after!
3. Work out your budget and stick to it
The venue you choose is likely to play a big part in this, so you might want to choose budget as your first most important priority. Once you know what's available to spend, you can then make decisions accordingly, ensuring you bring everything in within budget.
Your budget is likely to inform a host of decisions, from the location and even to the date, so make this a priority.
4. Give people details
There's nothing more infuriating than receiving limited information about a social engagement, work related or otherwise. Telling people a time, date and venue isn't enough. Letting people know what they can expect is a great way of building anticipation and practically speaking too, it means guests will know what to expect.
For example, if you're taking the team paint balling first, followed by laid back drinks in a pub, they're going to want to dress fairly casually, but if it's a swanky affair, perhaps even with some employee awards thrown into the mix, then guests are going to want some guidance on dress code.
If there's a theme for the party, let people know (but for goodness sake, don't enforce fancy dress unless you're certain it will go down well with the bulk of your employees!) and also let them know about food and drink too.
If there's an open bar and food provided say so, otherwise make it clear there will be a cash bar, credit per person, or food available to purchase at the venue. That way, guests can make an informed decision as to whether it's worth it, or financially viable for them to attend.
5. Don't scrimp on the quality of food and drink
Let's face it, if you're invited to a party, food and drink is important. With people getting into the festive spirit and often drinking for long stretches of time, providing food is a must.
Guests won't appreciate bad food (no one wants to be subject to limp sandwiches and cheap cocktail sausages at a lame cold buffet) but rest assured bad food will be remembered!
Don't get us wrong, there's nothing inherently wrong with a classic cold buffet, but do make sure you trust the venue or any external caterers you get in to take care of food. We'd strongly recommend paying careful attention to the menu, whether it's a basic cold finger buffet, hot Canapés or an elaborate multi-course sit-down meal you'll need to make sure there are options to cater for most tastes and different dietary requirements too.
A fully open bar is probably not going to be within the budgets of most businesses, but wine on the table, providing a bar credit for each guest, subsidised bar prices or even just a nice welcome cocktail, will all ensure guests feel better looked-after and valued by their employer.
6. Entertainment is key
When attending a party ordinarily, it's likely to be full of friends and/or family members; people with lots in common and lots to talk about and crucially, people that actually like spending time together!
Sadly the same isn't always true for work colleagues. Put people who don't really like each other all that much together in a room, and even the best food and booze probably isn't going to lead to the party atmosphere you might be hoping for.
By throwing in some entertainment and great music however, you'll provide a distraction and can easily capture peoples attention and give them something to do other than make awkward small-talk with people they might not really want to be hanging out with outside of work with.
When it comes to music, it can be difficult to please all of the people all of the time. A fun way around this could be to open a collaborative playlist before the event, allowing every employee to submit a couple of their favourite song choices. These can be trimmed down and then collated into a final playlist for the night.
A DJ playing a broad range of music is likely to be the best option as any a decent DJ will be able to read the room and switch music accordingly, helping to build a party atmosphere.
When it comes to entertainment, it can be a difficult call when trying to choose something that will please everyone, but from live bands and entertainers to selfie booths and party games, there are heaps of party entertainment ideas to choose from, so go for something that fits the culture of the business, is fun and is within budget!
7. Think about venue decoration and theme
Great venue decoration is easy if you have a clear theme. The classic Christmas party usually involves colours most often associated with Christmas, bright red, silver and green which means your venue can easily be decorated seasonally with Christmas trees, baubles, tinsel and all sorts of Christmas related loveliness.
If you want to be a little more creative however, you could go for a less obvious, but still related theme, for example creating a winter wonderland feel, or enchanted forest. Too standard? You could go completely off the wall with a theme totally unrelated to Christmas, but whatever you do, there's a fine line to tread between quirky and fun, and downright weird and confusing!
A jolly, bright and cheerful Christmas or wintery theme is usually a safe bet and many venues will already be decked out with seasonal decorations, but if you're hiring a bare-bones bank canvas venue, you're going to want to think much more carefully about themes, what you'll need to fill the space or whether you can afford to get specialist event planners involved to transform the venue for you.
Planning a party and need to hire furniture or props?
If you're planning a big corporate Christmas party we can help you get it right with our extensive range of hire furniture and props. For more inspiration why not check out 5 Essential Ingredients Of A Great Event.
If you've got any questions relating to furniture hire for your event, get in touch with us and one of our friendly team will be happy to help!