November 2nd, 2017
As the daunting task of trying to organise a party often falls to someone with no prior experience of booking events, our step-by-step guide aims to cover everything you’ll need to consider. From budget, venue and entertainment, we’ll help you to plan a Christmas party to remember.
Set a Date
At this late stage chances are diaries are already filling up fast so do your best to secure a date which suits most of your staff. The best way to do this is to share three or four possible dates and pick the one where most are available. Make sure you ask staff to pencil this date in even if you don’t have any further details regarding the party at this stage.
Establish a Budget
Next, you’ll need to establish a budget. This will help in determine what type of party you organise. Once you have a budget you’ll be able to prioritise spend based on what is most important to your group. Perhaps look at the age demographics and what has been enjoyed in the past. Above all else remember that the works Christmas party is typically a ‘thank you’ to staff for their support and hard work during the year. Whilst you’ll never please everyone, managing expectations at this stage is paramount.
Select a Venue
So, you’ve fixed a date and finalised a budget, it’s now time to decide what you’re going to do. The options for Christmas parties are endless, so it’s best to narrow down the type of party before going further. There are three main options – organising a bespoke party, using what’s available in your area or booking a packaged event.
Organising a bespoke party will mean starting from scratch. Everything from selecting a venue, sourcing the entertainment, catering supplies etc. will be down to you to organise.
Using what’s available in your area is somewhat easier. It’s not uncommon for smaller businesses to book a table at local restaurant with a Christmas menu and possibly follow this with a pub crawl for those that want to continue afterwards.
The third option allows companies to join a readymade party. These options are typically hosted by hotels who have designated party nights in the lead up to the festive season. A set menu, which often includes an allocation of wine per person, followed by a disco or live band are extremely popular choices for small companies that want to book a table or two and be part of a bigger event.
Start Making Arrangements
Once you know what type of party you want to arrange the fun really starts and you can begin to make the arrangements.
Be sure to secure your booking as the best venues go fast. If you’re still not sure on your final numbers, you can usually make a provisional reservation and finalise nearer the time. Don’t make assumptions; make sure that any reservation you make is confirmed in writing.
As with most things, there’s always room for negotiation. If you’re not quite happy with the price don’t be afraid to haggle, but don’t be surprised if people are not prepared to budge at such a popular time of the year.
Are certain members of your party likely to require overnight accommodation? If rooms aren’t available at the venue, then you will need to look at securing rooms at a nearby hotel.
You will also need to establish if you need to organise transport to and from the venue. Based on your numbers decide if this could be managed by laying on taxis or if you need to hire a mini bus or coach.
Food and Drink
If you’re planning to serve food, whether it be a sit-down meal or a buffet, you will need to ask your guests if they have any special dietary requirements or allergies. For a sit-down meal you may need to organise a table plan. If you do, make sure that you have a copy of this with you on the night, along with your party’s menu choices. You’ll be amazed at how many people forget what they’ve ordered.
Without putting a dampener on the party, it’s helpful to make sure that employees are clear on any policy for Christmas parties or work-related social events. Sending an email round to employees in advance of a Christmas party could help to remind them of conduct matters, including the dangers of excess alcohol consumption.
Be clear on how the purchase of drinks will be managed as you don’t want the bar bill to spiral out of control within an hour of you arriving. Some companies decide to limit drinks to beer, wine or soft drinks and have a specified amount of money set aside behind the bar. Other companies choose to issue a certain number of vouchers per employee so the spend is evenly distributed.
Issue an Itinerary
Once all the arrangements have been made, it’s time to issue an itinerary so that everyone knows the complete breakdown of the event – timings, any theme/dress code and the location together with contact names, mobile numbers and email addresses for any suppliers you have used. Make sure that you keep a copy of this with you on the night just in case.
By taking into account the above considerations, you should be well placed to plan the perfect Christmas party and one that’s remembered for years to come.
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