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Christmas Party Planning Tips

Christmas Party Planning Tips

Congratulations! You have been given the honour of organizing your company Christmas party. That means your team trusts your instincts and believes in your skills and abilities! *high five*

We’re all busy this time of year and you may be thinking, “how am I going to plan this? I have no idea what to plan that everyone will like,” or “this is going to be a lot of work, I don’t have time for this!” Fear no more – I have compiled the best tips for you to impress everyone at work without all the stress.

Budget

First things first, you need to know what amount of money you are working with. If you were not given a budget, be sure to ask for an estimate at least. This will identify your perimeters and give you a direction to work in. Some companies have a capped spend per person or may not be able to cover certain items such as alcohol. If your company has done events in the past, take a look at the history. That will give you an idea of how much was allocated to each item and what worked well based on your specific workplace. Your budget should help you determine your strategy for the number of guests, venue, food and beverage, entertainment, accommodations/transportation, gifting, décor, printing, etc.

Tip 1: Look for deals offered during the off-season or on certain days of the week. At White Oaks, we offer additional deals Sunday through Thursday for your party. This means, more room in your budget for the fun stuff!

Tip 2: My biggest tip for savings is to BOOK EARLY (keep that tip in your back pocket for next year)!

Guests

Depending on your budget and company priorities, determine if you would like to include plus ones or families. Including your employees’ loved ones in the celebration shows your commitment to your staff and promotes inclusion. However, it doubles your costs at least. Weigh out your options and determine what will work best for your group.

Tip: Keep it consistent! If in the past children have always been invited, it is usually expected going forward.

Venue

Try to choose a venue that can tackle more than one item on your list! A  place that offers food, beverage, décor, and accommodations all-in-one is fantastic! When looking at a venue, ask these questions: Do you have any special rates on certain dates? Is there a fixed price menu for Christmas Parties? How do you handle dietary restrictions? Is décor included with the booking? What “extras” do you offer? For example, when you hit a minimum food and beverage spend, the event room is free!

Tip: Before contacting the venue, have your preferred and alternate dates determined, have an accurate estimation on the number of guests attending and know if you will need guestrooms. This will make the proposal stage much smoother for you!

Food and Beverage

Food wise, a nice dinner truly goes a long way – believe me!  Try and pick a menu that is themed, but not too out of the box that it won’t please the masses. Aim for great quality and familiar favourites! If you are having a reception before dinner, aim for some simple starters that will impress even the fussiest of guests!

In terms of beverages, the most popular options for parties are: a Host Bar (all charges covered by company), Cash Bar (individuals pay own) or drink tickets and Cash Bar – the best of both worlds! Providing your guests with 1 or 2 drink tickets is a generous way for your guests to enjoy themselves without overindulging.

If you are having a buffet or plated meal, you may want to consider having table wine available. Yes, you can limit this if you want to! Advise your venue that you want a maximum of one red and one white wine bottle per table, for example! Don’t be afraid to ask questions and make it work for you.

Tip: Make sure in your registration form or email invite that you have noted that dietary restrictions must be submitted no later than one week in advance of the event. This helps save you and the venue from scrambling last minute to accommodate.

Entertainment

Once you determine your venue, I recommend adding some entertainment! A DJ or a band are always a hit and can be played during dinner if you need to have an earlier night. A photo booth is also a fun option to have available!

Does your Christmas party also include end of the year awards, speeches, or presentations? Remember to leave some room in your budget for any audio/visual or staging needs. If you have speeches let your venue coordinator know your agenda, so the floor team serving dinner can work with you to ensure the flow of the event is as seamless as possible.

Tip 1: Recognize the time and date of the event. If your event is on a Monday night, you can expect your guests not to stay out too late. Pick entertainment that suits not only your crowd, but the day.

Tip 2: Read up on Socan and Resound government policies regarding music and ask your venue or entertainment how this affects you!

Accommodations/Transportation

The safety of your guests should always be top of mind. Picking a venue that has accommodations attached gives your guests the opportunity to book a room. If you know in advance that guests would like to book a room, make sure you advise your venue coordinator so they can arrange a room block for you. It’s all about the convenience!

If you know accommodations are not in the cards, I recommend reaching out to your local taxi company to arrange transportation needs. They can usually set up an account for the company to cover the cost of rides home or, if you designate a certain company for your event, your guests may receive a discount even if they are paying for themselves.

Tip: If transportation or accommodation was not pre-arranged, have some suggestions for both to provide to your guests if needed. This will save you from scrambling during the event if potential situations arise.

Gifts

Gifts are not necessary if you are putting on a party already, but a small gift and a card can make a lasting impression. Think of your guests’ demographics and a commonality between them. In my opinion, you cannot go wrong with a bottle of wine! Even for that guest who doesn’t drink, it’s always good to have an extra bottle of wine on hand this time of year.

Tip: If you’re in the Niagara Region (or another wine region) go straight to the winery to order your bottles. They often have deals if you order by the case. Also, several companies allow you to personalize your order with a custom logo – cool!

Décor and More

We’ve touched on this previously, but make sure to check with your venue to see what they offer first. You may not need to bring anything except for company specific items. If not, no need to break the bank – the dollar store or local craft store has great items that you can mix and match to create a beautiful ambiance!

Tip: Have an “Instagram-able spot” available – even if you grab a couple balloons and a company backdrop – you’re good to go! If your guests are taking photos, it means they want to remember this night and show it off to their friends. Might I suggest adding an event hashtag for the evening’s festivities!

The main takeaway here is to pick a venue that is a one-stop-shop! Here at White Oaks, we have our Christmas Party expert Laura Stoner ready to assist you in making an easy to plan, extraordinary event that your guests will be talking about until the next year! With delicious Christmas menus to choose from, beautiful Christmas décor and music, our reliable list of preferred entertainment and audio visual services, and a dedicated onsite Event Manager, we make it easy for you to just show up and enjoy! Check out our awesome perks, making your decision stress-free and saving you money.

A note from me to you…

If you need some help, don’t hesitate to reach out to your team. Grab a co-worker or ask your manager to assign someone to assist. This time of year brings out a lot of stress and I’m sure your company would not want you feeling overwhelmed by this undertaking. We all want to keep you happy and healthy. Make sure you enjoy the event – it is for you too!

Wishing you a safe and wonderful holiday season!


Alyssa is a detail-oriented, change-enthusiast who is always on the hunt for her next adventure. Planning conferences here at White Oaks gets her creative juices flowing - along with a little wine. Inspired by world travel and meeting new people, her meetings and events are sure to impress.

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