Is there such thing as “the perfect office Christmas Party?”…
Planning an office Christmas party is no small task, specifically when you already have a full-time job to do. Many of our clients are often tasked with the daunting and somewhat anxiety ridden feeling of planning “the perfect Christmas party” for their company. Theres the Guest list (“will they or wont they show”?) there’s the food, the venue and its location (“it never pleases everyone apparently”) the entertainment and then there is the theme. Theming is important as this is the foundations of the event itself. You don’t want to choose a theme you think is going to please everyone only to find our half of the accounts department are not keen on James Bond! Do you? Maybe! Lets explore that notion shall we.
Well prior to pulling your hair out, why not take a look at just some tips I would like to share with you which might make your moonlighting experience in event management a less stressful occasion, aside from picking up the phone and having an event planner with years of experience, like me, do it for you, that is a few tips…no; Lets call them rules shall we? and lets say there are five of them to keep things bite-size.
Rule 1 on how to plan the perfect Christmas party
Most event agencies are of course creative, but the really good ones like ourselves, also know how to be creative with budgets too.
Set the budget for your Christmas party and do not be afraid to use it. Yes you might gain brownie points when you present back to the bosses that you have planned an event for under the budget given but will it be the best it can be? Perhaps not. By all means do not go crazy. Most event agencies are of course creative, but the really good ones like ourselves also know how to be creative with budgets too.
Break your budget down into segments
- £xxxx Venue which needs to also cover food, drink and hire of the room
- £xxx entertainment and interaction
- £xxx theming and venue decorations
- £xxx AV and production
- £xxx invites and print
- £xxx transportation
- £xxx Your time
Now you have your budgets set to a degree, you can get started.
Rule 2 on how to plan the best Christmas party ever!
I hate it when someone says “you cannot please everyone”. That’s Rubbish, You can and you will.
Do not be afraid of ideas! As I said in my opening statement, the theme of the event is the foundations. The initial idea is where you start to build and plan from, so think big and work your way back from there. I hate it when someone says “you cannot please everyone”. That’s Rubbish, you can and you will. I have created enough events to know that you can indeed please everyone at your event and this, without a doubt should be the goal. You may have the odd person say something along the lines of “oh I have been to an Alice in Wonderland themed party before”. Yes, but have they been to one where you shall be sitting down with the mad hatter himself and having dinner? Or have they been to one where they have to crawl through a tiny door after drink a shot out of a drink me glass, to get in to the venue?
If the answer is no then you are already well on your way to creating something memorable.
Here’s an example of what I am talking about.
Rule 3 on how to plan the greatest ever Christmas party for your company
Get Quirky with your Christmas party venue
“If the answer is no to needing a conventional venue , well then this is also great news”
Do you have to go for the conventional venues such as the central hotels with large function rooms? If yes then great! You have the luxury of choice, as long as you book in advance of course. You ultimately have a plethora of brilliant venues for your Christmas party to choose from, specifically if you are in a major city. These venues are great for many reasons. 1 of them being that they can of course cater for you and what they do, works. Most venues will of course let you go in and get creative too so this is also a bonus amongst other things such as:
- High quality event catering
- Experienced staff
- Preferred suppliers often work with venues and are chosen for their high standard
- Location and accessibility
- And more.
If I had one critique if any of more conventional venue such as hotels it is this. The Hotel industry in general has a high turnover of staff. This means who you start working with may not be who you finish working with. Not an issue though, just make sure you keep your house in order by making sure everything is one a working document or in a folder dedicated to your event. After all you are now an event planner to a degree and I can tell you now, a great event planner is someone who above all “can plan”
If the answer is no to needing a conventional venue, well then this is also great news. More and more I am asked by clients to find them a venue which might be a black Canvas or something with a lot of character that they may not have considered before, for example:
Or if your party is on a smaller scale and you are looking for something with some character and is still central, making for good public transport then perhaps Motel Studios.
This goes back to my point about being brave. Do not rule anything out! Even the most unconvincing of potential Christmas party venues can be transformed into the most amazing spaces.
Rule 4 on how to plan an Office Christmas party
Entertain your guests
Entertainment doesn’t have to be the most expensive part of your Christmas party, but done right, can be the most impactful.
Entertainment can make your event. Whether it is a great band that plays all the classics or something a little more out of the box such a winter wonderland acrobatic show it is important it is memorable. When the party starts you will need professional performers to bring the house down. It is extremely rare not to find something such as a show or walkabout performance that does not fit the theme of your Christmas party. If it’s a 1920s themed Christmas event then you have choices here. Or if you are looking at even having a sci-fi themed Christmas party (yes this happens too) then perhaps some Robot DJ’s would suffice? Or if like some of our clients you want to go all out and hire a well know celebrity act like Scott Mills or Clavin Harris, well this is also in the realms of possibilities. Of course I must stress to you that if you do want Calvin to attend your event, your budget plan needs to have some zeros after a 1 in the budget section of your plans. Entertainment doesn’t have to be the most expensive part of your Christmas party, but done right, can be the most impactful.
Rule 5 on how to plan an Office Christmas party – the most important rule of all
The term instagramable was not coined by us millennials for no reason.
My clients will of course know what I am talking about here as I bang on about it all the time. The experience for me is so important and to consider every aspect of it. What will the guests see when they get to the venue? how have you decorated the entrance and what are their 1st impressions? Everything down to the sights, sounds and even the smells of an event are important. What are your guests feeling when they are seated at their tables and what type of environment are you creating for them. The term instagramable was not coined by us millennials for no reason” I like to create events where you can explore different parts of the venue to experience different things. I love it when there are lots of pictures being taken and followers on Instagram, ask what party that was, then ask the same thing about another photo only to be told it was the same event. Immersive” is often a word used in today’s events industry and there is a good reason for it. Having your guests participate in the event and the activities is a good way of making sure they are a part of the experience as opposed to having fun shoved in their face. For example when we create an end of year award ceremony which are also a companies Christmas party, we often get the staff involved in the awards themselves and name the awards after the person presenting. We created a highland themed awards ceremony in Scotland where the staff were initiated in to a clan if they won an award. They would then have a fake fire brand placed on them as a tattoo as part of the initiation process.
A talking Moose you say
Yes indeed! For a Shared Christmas party night at Whittlebury Hall we created an Aspen Ranch themed party. We produced and designed a talking moose head which was the compere of the event. Guests thought it was animatronic however, we actually placed a screen behind the set and a performer was inside it who could see everything.
VR and AR is of course still a really good way of immersing your guests at your Christmas event. The use of Virtual Reality snowball fights can be a great way of adding some form of competition and fun to the party. I could go on all day about “the experience” but perhaps best to leave it there.
Of course you can get in contact with us if you would like to know more about how we plan events for our clients or indeed if you would like for us t help you plan yours.
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