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Christmas party planning for a work event involves a lot of time and effort and has hundreds of variables to think of - this can be pretty overwhelming, especially if it's your first time. As hosts and planners of Christmas Party events ourselves, Jurys Inn understands the difficulties and extensive process needed to undertake this task. So we've put together a party planning checklist to help you on your way.
#1: Set the Date
Venues fill up quickly and co - workers start making plans so the sooner you set the date the easier this whole process will be. Once the date has been decided, send a ‘save the date' email - you want to make sure everyone knows about it, if there are quite a few ‘can't make it' replies, this gives you a chance to change the date before anything has been booked.
#2: Set the Budget
Find out how much money is available to spend on the party, this will determine the type of Christmas party you organise. Keep in mind the type of organisation you are and the personalities of your co - workers, the style of party you want may not be what the whole office wants.
#3: Choose a Party Type
Depending on your company size, budget and location, there are a range of Christmas party routes you can go down.
- Will the party be a day or evening do? Or both?
- Are husbands, wives and partners invited?
- Do you have budget for bespoke (bringing together different suppliers of catering, entertainment, theming etc) party?
- Is a packaged party more within the budget? (see Jurys Inn Christmas brochures for more package party details)
- Are you a small office which will benefit from a more intimate casual party at a bowling alley, local pub or ice skating ring?
#4: Find Your Perfect Venue
Shop around for a venue available on your dates and within your budget.
- Find out whether they offer the services you need (bespoke or packaged party) and take into consideration whether the venue is easily accessible for guests.
- Organise a venue visit and if you can, place preferred locations on a provisional hold.
- Find out what is included in the quote and what will need to be hired in - you don't want to be caught out with missing catering staff or stuck cleaning up afterwards because it's not included.
- Find out about accommodation at or near the venue. (Jurys Inn offers overnight deals with our Christmas party packages).
- If your company is notorious for ‘no shows' find out if you can book a minimum and add guests later.
#5: Pick a Theme
Whether you decide to go formal, wintery or ‘out there', theming is key for venue decoration and letting everyone know what to wear!
- Some theme ideas include: Winter Wonderland, Christmas, Victorian/Dickens, James Bond, Masquerade, 1920s/The Great Gatsby, Fire and Ice, Narnia, Ballroom and Vintage.
- Venue Decoration: Pick out focal points of the venue to decorate - the entrance/arrival drinks, bar, table centres etc. and make a list of items that relate to your chosen theme working these in with the areas you want to decorate.
#6: Organise the Catering
The food at a Christmas party can make or break the happiness of your guests (especially if they've paid for a ticket).
- You will need to decide on in - house catering or external caterers, although if you've opted for a package event, catering will most likely be included in the price. In - house also tends to be cheaper and some venues may not allow external caterers, so take into consideration budget and the quality of the venue's food.
- Decide on the menu and food type - canapés, nibbles, three course meal - again if you've opted for packaged events, this is probably something you won't have to worry about.
- Organise vegetarian options and find out dietary requirements from guests.
- If you can, ask for a menu tasting.
#7: Beverage Distribution
The dreaded drink distribution all depends on your budget. There are two options:
- 1. Pre - order drinks
- 2. Pay for what is consumed on the night.
- A good way to distribute evenly is to have set amount of bottles per table or have a waiter service topping up when needed.
- Alternatively you can have an ‘order from the bar' system or a drinks table where guests can help themselves.
- As to which drinks to include in the budget - red and white wines are usually the best for the ‘masses'.
#8: Set up the Entertainment
Music is the obvious one, depending on whether you want a live band or DJ, the search is also a make or break for the party. Some venues may have a resident DJ in for Christmas helping your process along. For package deals, before you book find out if they come with or without entertainment and what type of entertainment, if offered.
Additional popular entertainments include table to table magicians, casino tables, cabaret/circus act and party games.
#9: Co - ordinate a Seating Plan
Especially with big companies, mixing colleagues is a good way for everyone to branch out of their departments so mix up the seating plan a little. If you're going to do a seating plan name cards are also a good idea!
#10: Design the Invites/Tickets
Key to knowing guest numbers, sending out invites or selling tickets is an important follow up to your initial ‘save the date' email. Make sure tickets/invites are attractive and theme appropriate and include date, time, theme, RSVP (for invites) and venue address - all obvious but incredibly vital!
#11: Create an Itinerary
One handbook that entails everything you need to know about the event. Include a complete breakdown: who, what, where, when with all contact names, numbers and email of everybody involved. Also enclose menu, seating plan and similar documents if you have them. Don't forget to send a copy to everyone involved!
Need the checklist on the go? Print our condensed version with just the main points.
As mentioned above Jurys Inn offers Christmas party services and venues in our hotels across the UK and Ireland, take a look at our locations and brochures here!