25 Years Professional Event Management

Have a cracking Christmas party

 23rd Aug 2009

Everyone wants their Christmas party to be memorable, but you want it to be remembered for all the right reasons, not the fact that the so called 'comedian' hurled abuse all night at the MD

Take a look at the following tips to ensure that your party goes off without a hitch.

1. Hold the event in January

It seems a terrible indictment of excess, but around Christmas people do suffer from 'dinner fatigue'; just so many parties in so little time, especially when you take into account friends, family not to mention work! A party mid January can feel really fresh and motivating and will definitely be something to look forward to when you come back to work in the New Year.

2. Don't think that a party is enough

For many organisers, coordinating a Christmas party can be a logistical nightmare and a fairly stressful experience. There is nothing wrong with compiling check lists to make sure that you haven't forgotten anything. There are lots of little things that you can do around the edges of the event to make it a really special occasion such as adding little gifts to the tables.

3. Check out your venue

If you're booking a venue that you are not familiar with, make sure you check it out in advance. Don't tell the venue that you're going and then visit on a Friday or Saturday, just because you want to see what they're like when they're under pressure.

4. Find out who else will be there

If you are sharing the venue with other organisations, have a quick look at the list of other companies that will be there. No-one wants to be a snob but if you're a group of ladies and you're sharing with male dominated groups then you may be in for a trying evening.

5. Organise taxis or minibuses to take people home

This is another good idea as it promotes the wellbeing of staff and helps them to deal with a tiresome logistical problem of sorting out how to get home from the venue. Minibuses or coaches for larger groups can do a tour of the local area, dropping people off on the way which will cut down on costs.

6. If you are having themed decoration, get it done professionally

There is nothing worse than a room garishly decorated with what appears to be the vulgar contents of a giant Christmas cracker. Professional decorators use high quality decorations and creative lighting to spectacular effect, so don't scrimp and go for the cheap option - you'll only regret it.

7. Consider those with special needs

Put yourself in the shoes of anyone with particular physical or nutritional needs. Vegetarians tend to get a better deal these days, but once upon a time the options were typically pretty poor. Even so, look at the event from their perspective and make sure they get just as great an experience as you. Speak to the venue and make sure they supply you with alternative menus. Ensure that they have disabled facilities if necessary.

8. Book your entertainment early

The later you leave it the harder it will be to find a good act and the more likely you are to get one that will only be memorable for how awful they were. Again, make sure you see them in action first. There are some truly, truly awful Elvis impersonators out there and plenty of comedians who aren't funny or, worse still, are inappropriate. So be selective and choose your entertainment as you don't want to offend the MD.

9. Entertainment can be a great distraction

Events such as Murder Mysteries are great fun and can distract people from the bar. The more people have to do, the less focus people will have on drinking. This is a growing concern in the corporate social responsibility area and every year the column inches in the media get longer. Give people plenty to do and they won't have time to prop the bar up.

10. Look after any entertainers

Provide food and non-alcoholic drinks for any entertainers; the band, magicians, croupiers and anyone supporting the event, because you'll get a better show. They should also have a room where they can relax and a changing area where they can leave their belongings. Entertainers are expected to put on a smile and make the event work, but sometimes they have to put up with awful conditions.

11. Live music rocks

Nothing beats a live band, particularly something retro or a tribute band playing the greatest hits. Top tribute bands can be expensive, but there are a number of new acts who are coming onto the scene offering much more affordable rates. Keep your eyes peeled and do some digging.

12. Something for the children

One really nice touch is to include children's gifts, especially if you are running a raffle. Parents love taking toys home for their children and this is a great way of making the event more family orientated.

13. Free bars can lead to trouble

There's something about free bars at Christmas that make some people behave as if they've just spent six months at sea. One solution is to provide free wine and beer but not free spirits, so have a free bar set up away from the main bar area or have table service. If people want to progress onto the hard stuff, funding it themselves will be a controlling influence.

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