How to Make your Holiday Event the Best Ever
IT MAY SEEM EARLY, BUT TARGET HAS ALREADY STARTED STOCKING CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTS. LET THAT SINK IN FOR A MOMENT....SCARY, RIGHT? THAT HOLIDAY EVENT WILL SNEAK RIGHT UP ON YOU. AFTER HALLOWEEN, IT'S JUST A SLEIGH RIDE INTO FEBRUARY. SO BEGIN PLANNING NOW WITH OUR TOP TIPS FOR AN AWESOME HOLIDAY CELEBRATION.
Seriously, this is the most important part of holiday events. No one wants a bunch of hangry guests. Whatever your event may be (corporate holiday parties, fundraisers, promotional events) you gotta feed the people. Have good food and lots of it. When planning the menu, try to be aware of a wide variety of culinary preferences, taking care to have kosher, halal, vegetarian or vegan, and gluten-free options available to those with religious restrictions and dietary limitations. A good caterer can help guide you in making a delicious, hearty, and affordable feast.
TO BOOZE OR NOT TO BOOZE?
It's likely that for the majority of attendees, no holiday celebration would be complete without a bit of tipple. And it's equally important to have delicious alternatives available for your sober guests. Finding the balance here can be tricky, as guests will want to let loose but might forget about reasonable limitations. If you have alcohol at your event, be sure you also have some safety measures in place: designated drivers, taxis, Uber and Lyft, or mass transportation at the ready for anyone who might become wildly inebriated during the party. Also try to avoid having a cash bar--it's a bit of a downer--try to fit free beverages into your budget, even if all you can afford is a nice selection of beer and wine.
A UNIQUE VENUE
Anything you can do to increase the festive feelings in this season is a most welcome change for your guests from everyone's standard daily routine. Find inventive venues that reach beyond the standard ballroom, or god forbid, your own office building--especially if your event is an office holiday party. No one wants to be staring their own desk in the face whilst they are trying to enjoy themselves. Perhaps rent a movie theater and screen a holiday movie everyone loves (A Christmas Story, anyone?) or let out an ice skating rink for a Frozen-themed party, or an old manor house for a cozy old fashioned celebration a la Bing Crosby.
THEMES THAT GO BEYOND
It's the holidays, obviously, but there is a lot more that's possible beyond just the staid red and green. In an upcoming post, we will detail some really fun ideas to take you beyond the average holiday party theme. For now, though, as you begin your planning, consider some of the elements of the season: frost and snow, ice blue, candy canes, holiday lights, international holiday traditions, gingerbread houses, gold, sparkling things, chocolate, karaoke holiday tunes, candles, the 12 days of Christmas--the ideas are limitless!
The generous approach here is to take into consideration all of the ways that various people celebrate the season. Christmas is the overwhelming champion this time of year, but of course, many people also celebrate Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Advent and other traditions. You can try to cover all your bases by wishing everyone a Happy Christmahanakwanzika. Then, find some unique ways to acknowledge and incorporate the wide variety of traditions that your guests may observe. Knowing your audience is key. It's also acceptable to ask invitees how they would like to celebrate at your event, if at all. Many people are just happy to enjoy a simple party and leave their beliefs for private observations.
OH, THE WEATHER OUTSIDE IS FRIGHTFUL
The winter weather can create complications in areas of the world where it snows in winter. It's important to take the possibility into consideration and have a contingency plan in place just in case there's a blizzard the morning of your big fete. Snow isn't the only potential problem. Also be prepared for ice (having salt and sand on hand is important to keep walkways from getting too slippery), freezing rain, and bitter cold. Make certain to encourage attendees to dress warmly and make sure your venue is properly heated, but not to tropical levels unless you're having a Tiki-themed bash. Have a well-staffed coat check so that if people want to wear their Sorels but change into their Louboutins, you've got an organized place to store all the winter coats and gear while they enjoy themselves.
BECAUSE WE CAN'T ALL FIT ON SANTA'S SLEIGH
How to get your many guests from Point A to Point B? Sure, they can all drive themselves if you have great parking and/or a valet or two. Just be sure, again, that your chosen parking spots aren't piled high with a snow mound or due to be plowed while everyone is partying. Since alcohol may be a factor in your event, consider renting a big party bus to transport your guests safely. Transportation elements can also be part of the fun of your event. If you're feeling indulgent, and there's snow on the ground, sleigh rides, complete with jingle bells, could be pretty magical this time of year. If you have a train at your disposal, you could even create a special "Polar Express" as a special surprise (or even hold your entire event on the train itself). Renting a vintage school bus could also be a fun option if your party has a more rustic theme.
Even though not everyone is as good a dancer as Leo here, you want your guests to have a lot of fun at your event. Your entertainment need not even be holiday-themed (in fact, it would be more unexpected if it wasn't). Consider unique things like street performers, an aerial acrobatic performance, arts and crafts like make-your-own ornaments, or dance instructors to teach your guests tango, swing or ballroom dancing. Classic entertainment elements are always welcome and enjoyable, too--there's nothing like a great band or stellar DJ to get everyone on their feet.
'Tis the season to be grateful. Show your thanks to your attendees, whether they are your employees, friends, business associates or simply share your fundraising goals. Even small gifts are most appreciated (Pinterest is lousy with ideas) and welcome this time of year. Of course, cash gifts are always a happy thing to find inside your holiday card but it's equally nice to receive any gift that clearly has thought behind it. Sometimes giving gifts of charity in someone else's name gets a bad rap. However, with organizations like Heifer International, where each gift gives exponentially, the sentiment has an opportunity to be appreciated twice: by the person being honored and by the recipient whose life the gift alters for the positive.
This is an especially good time to think of others less fortunate. Having a coat, mitten & hat, or toy drive at your event is a great way to bring people together at an event for a common goal and to benefit others at the same time. It's important to consider anyone who might not be having a typical holiday: people in the hospital, the homeless, and military service members. One event we attended had a wall covered in envelopes and stacks of holiday cards to write to active-duty military personnel stationed overseas. Another annual here in the US collects wrapped gifts for Santa to deliver to children too ill to leave the hospital. Leave room in your party budget somewhere to account for those in need and you'll feel just that much better about the bounty you enjoy. If you're not sure about this one, check out this video. Just bring your tissues.
WHATEVER YOUR HOLIDAY EVENT PLANS TURN OUT TO BE, WHETHER IT'S A SMALL, INTIMATE GATHERING OR A HUGE CORPORATE SOIREE, WE WOULD LOVE TO DO MORE TO HELP YOU MAKE IT THE BEST IT CAN BE.