It’s nearly Christmas! OK, technically it’s 109 days away, but this is the busiest time of year for company Christmas Party bookings. Most Christmas parties happen on the same few dates every year, so you’ll want to start planning early. If you leave things too late to arrange, you could end up pulling crackers over soggy mince pies and warm beer in the staff canteen.
I’ve worked a lot of different venues and events as a Christmas Party magician over the last few years. Here are a few tips to ensure your festive celebration runs smoothly.
Set a date for your Christmas Party
December’s a busy month for most people, so you’ll want to get a date pencilled in as soon as you can to make sure everyone can come along. Suggest a few options and check for prior commitments first. Online scheduling tools like Doodle are great for this.
As soon as you’ve got a firm date, send a save the date email and get everyone to schedule it in.
Agree a budget
Before you start planning the Christmas Party of the century with a gourmet 8-course meal, award-winning entertainment and a fireworks show, make sure you’ve got the funds to cover it. Knowing how much you have to spend will help to narrow down your options. Aside from the venue and the cost for food and drinks, remember to consider travel and accommodation if your team don’t all work at the same office. Then there’s entertainment. Whether it’s a DJ, live music, a photo-booth or a magician, it all needs to be paid for!
It’s also worth having a “contingency budget”. A little extra cash in case of emergencies (like the bar tab running out) is always useful, just in case your initial budget is slightly off.
Pick a venue
The budget you decide and the size of your team will have an impact on the kind of venue that you need for your event. You should also consider the location, particularly if you have staff in multiple offices.
If you’re planning to have entertainment, check if the space you’ve chosen is suitable for this. Do you need a stage? A PA system? Does the venue allow what you want to do?
When contacting venues, it’s worth having a check-list to hand of your requirements. A few things to include:
- Date and time
- Number of guests
- Food and drink requirements
- Entertainment or other activities planned
- Cost and Payment terms
Finally, whether it’s private dining room for a team of 10 or a banquet for 500 people, get a date booked with the venue as soon as you can. Christmas is a busy time for most bars, restaurants and event venues. If you don’t reserve your date quickly, somebody else will!
We’ve all been to those parties that start at 7pm with dinner at 8:30pm. You leave the office at 5:30pm and fancy a “quick drink” on the way. Things quickly degenerate into a 3 hour drinking session before food is served, and things get messy pretty quickly.
It doesn’t matter if you’re planning a 5 course meal or a simple buffet. Either way, make sure your guests get some kind of sustenance early on, or you’ll end up with a very drunken crowd before you can say “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”.
If it’s a sit-down meal, have some canapés or nibbles served during reception drinks. If it’s a buffet, make sure it opens at a decent time.
Much like venues, December is a very busy time for corporate entertainers, so you’ll need book early. People will remember the entertainment long after they’ve forgotten the free bar and turkey dinner. So, whether you’re booking live music, a comedian or a magician (and you really should consider a magician), don’t treat it as an afterthought and hire the best you can afford.
Check that you can see examples of their work and testimonials from previous clients. If possible, speak to them to see if they have ideas to make the night unforgettable. They do this for a living and might have suggestions that you’ve not thought of!
Event planners and venue staff organise parties all year around. They know what they’re doing and are likely to think of things that you haven’t. Speak to the staff at your venue, or your event planner if you’ve hired one. Listen to them and don’t be afraid to ask for some advice on how to make your Christmas party a great one.
The morning after
Finally, don’t forget what happens after the party’s over. A lot of seasonal parties happen on a “school night”, meaning that everyone should (in theory) be at work the next day. If that’s true for your company, decide what your policy is for the next morning. Is working from home acceptable? Is it OK to come in an hour late? Whatever the answer is, be clear with everybody what is and isn’t acceptable well ahead of time.
Remember, don’t pull a sickie and make everybody come in with sore heads, even if you are the boss!
Whatever type of Christmas Party you have, I hope it’s an enjoyable one. If you are interested in how I can make your celebration a truly magical one, get in touch for a chat.