It’s that time of year again: the first robins and reindeers are infiltrating the shop displays and all over the country bosses are delegating the task of organising their company’s Christmas ‘do’ to their thinly-stretched assistants.
While planning your own party can be a lot of fun, the job of corporate event organising carries some hefty responsibilities. First and foremost: how do you tempt everyone from the chairman to the caretaker to attend? Then there’s the budget: serious black marks will be earned for over-spend or under-allocation. And the final test: will they rave about it as the “best ever” for years to come, or will they quietly drift away as soon as pudding is over?
Whether you’re catering for 15 or 500, it’s essential to get the foundations right. Venue sourcing is the first hurdle, and before you book that bar/restaurant/hotel/club/hall that promises the ideal capacity, ambience and menu, don’t forget that it needs to be easily accessible by public transport if you are not providing travel and accommodation. Locating your event 30 miles into the countryside and then expecting staff to fork out on taxis is guaranteed to dampen their enthusiasm.
Another cornerstone is the tone of the event. Is it to be that once-a-year bash when everyone lets their hair down, or will it be more of a corporate showcase attended by key clients and associates? Maybe there’ll be a year-end presentation before the partying commences? The event could even have the dual role of inter-departmental communications exercise, with built-in objectives and measurables? This need not be as big a headache as it sounds – flexible event spaces can alter mood using decor and clever lighting, so with plenty of advance planning and creative thinking it’s possible to whisk your guests from formal business meeting to dinner, to ‘A night at the Kasbah’ without anyone leaving the building.
You’ll be getting the idea by now that the company Christmas party is not something to be hastily thrown together at a couple of weeks’ notice. Good venues book up fast, and, as if the race to secure your chosen date wasn’t competitive enough, the growing popularity of Friday weddings is restricting availability even further. As seasoned corporate event specialists, we advise clients to consider Tuesdays or Wednesdays to be sure of bagging their preferred location.
And if staff are going to be working the next day, it’s essential to plan proceedings so that everyone feels they’ve had a fantastic time, without being slumped at their desk with a serious hangover just a few hours later.
I’ve been saving the best bit til last, because the difference between a good party and a brilliant one is the fun element. And of course nothing steers the focus away from heavy drinking like entertainment. The options are endless: ice carving, cocktail mixing, magicians, acrobats, stilt-walkers, fire eaters (check with the venue!) … the colour, costumes and sparkle will be sure to wow your guests and leave a lasting impression.
The ultimate Christmas party is an entirely themed event – these days a far cry from Santa’s Grotto. While casino evenings and Winter Wonderland are sure-fire winners, we’ve produced everything from an ‘Electric 80s’ event to a masquerade ball. Current favourites are the Merry Mega Quiz – adding the spice of competition to the mix; and Mistletoe and Crime – a yuletide murder mystery game.
So if you are wearing the Christmas party planner’s hat this year, good luck. And if inspiration is in short supply, don’t panic – we’ve put together a few ideas to set you off in the right direction.
Have a great one!