So, You’ve Just Been Asked to Organise the Company’s Christmas Party …
There is a global industry worth $billions, directed at the production of beautiful, memorable and awesome parties. However, most of the time the person asked to organise it is unaware of this support and is probably feeling pretty lonely right now, at the mercy of a baying crowd keen to drink away their woes in a fit of festive madness.
If that is you, then read on. Here are some hacks that will not only save your bacon but make you a legend in the office forever.
1) Find the Message Before the Bottle
Christmas Parties are not like normal parties. They don’t celebrate coming of ages, ends of somethings, or beginnings of somethings. People may be leaving but that’s not the point of the party.
Business party’s send a message so be clear what this is, common messages are:
· The company loves you
· The company is doing incredibly well, so loves you and wants to thank you
· This has been a bad year, it’s going to be harder next year, but we still love you
· The company doesn’t love you. But convention says we have to do a Christmas Party, this is it …
· This is what our business stands for. This is our culture, look at all the cool, clever and creative people in the business, these are our ethics towards our people, our community, our customers. Here is a vision of us and our future
So the last one is more useful in terms of creativity, but see the organisation of the party as a creative process first and foremost. The basics come later and will not be ignored. But for now imagine how you want people to feel when they get the invite, the venue, the theme, etc.
Imagine how you want them to feel when they arrive, how you want to pass on these message of love from the company in a pleasant and surprising way. Think about the balance between work and fun, and let your creativity run wild!
Venue selection is massive. Be creative here as well. It’s easy to choose the local hotel or pub, but think bigger than that. Why not the local museum, gallery, sports stadium. How about something unique and unusual which excites and creates anticipation?
Unique Venues: Top tip. Go to a venue that doesn’t need lots of theming or dressing. Pick the venue that is already finished. I love the unusual venue market, I work within it and I know there are loads of options out there that will back up your message and theme.
4) Date & Time
The budget will drag you all over the place, so try and strike a balance. Early in the week will be cheaper for venue hire, but does anyone really want a mass hangover dragging throughout the week. Thursday is good, Friday OK, but remember some may resent you from ‘keeping them away from their friends and families’, the social butterflies hey, they never say that if it’s a Thursday …
December is traditional, very popular are first and second weeks but don’t get too close to the big day as holiday season kicks in. Also, if people are mad busy, major projects going on, don’t be afraid to follow the growing movement of January / February Christmas Parties. It’s OK, people understand that business comes first.
At the same time as your venue choice, pick a theme that best suits the message and creative ideas that you have. Most popular are Bond, Masquerade, Winter Wonderland; these are all great, but don’t be afraid of going off menu!
Be very clear about your theme from the outset. People need to prepare. They will also judge what they don’t understand. One person’s Bond party is DJs and dry Martini’s, another is sky diving and Ski Chalet … try to be almost patronisingly clear.
6) Food & Drink
Contrary to popular belief not every employee feels like the company should pay for them to get blasted. They do however expect to be fed and watered, so think about how you want to manage the food and drink. Food should be enough to have a decent meal, and not just soak up the drink, and there should be options for those with dietary requirements etc.
Again, the best venues have great on site caterers and they can be a real asset to your event. Use them, get their guidance, have a taste, they have so much to offer the general wellbeing of an event and they know their stuff.
7) CEOs on Stage
Be very careful. Everyone (should) know that they are at a business event, but they won’t like you for rubbing their noses in it. A Christmas Party is a social and relaxed environment. If your CEO wants to address the masses, do it very early or even before the event.
There are lots of ways to get his / her message across. You can do it in the theming, through video and audio. With messages on tables or on walls. It doesn’t always have to be lectern, mic, autocue; we’re better than that aren’t we!?
8) Make Your Partners, Partners
As with everything in business. By this time you will be spending money on food, design and drink so get those guys on board. The best venues and the best caterers are massive resources that you can lean on to make your party the talk of the town. So lean on them. Ask for their help, their advice, their time.
9) The Basics
Just like every other party, a Christmas Party needs to be enjoyed. Give them great drink, great food, an interesting theme, a location they can get to, and make sure they are safe and looked after at all times.
Remind guests that they are at a business party, so to respect the event, the message it is trying to send, and the investment the business has made.
10) Surprise Surprise?
Share everything as much as possible. Everyone will have an opinion of your party on the day, but that will be dictated by what they know beforehand. Try and stay away from surprises, expectations in companies are so vast that you are guaranteed to overwhelm some and underwhelm others.
11) Don’t Ask for Feedback on the Night
When it comes to Christmas Parties you don’t need to ask for an opinion. Rest assured someone will not like what you did or what you tried to do. So ignore it, it will just ruin your night.
What is important is what you tried to do, and the reasons behind it. It’s why message is so important. You will get many opinions on the output, but few can criticise the intention.
Good luck. You are brave and worthy of much respect, you may even get some!
For great event planning tips and some amazing Christmas party venues, check out Lime Venue Portfolio.