The festive season has a habit of creeping up on you. Presents to buy, a generous-sized turkey to find and, for some of you, an office Christmas party to organise. Whilst it may be a little early for the first two, it’s actually the perfect time to start planning your corporate Christmas party, in fact - the sooner the better. When you consider just how many companies there are in the UK who’ll be looking to find the perfect venue and grab the best date, you don’t want to end up with limited options.
Arguably, one of the most stressful parts of organising a Christmas party is trying to make it better than the last. You want to make it the most memorable yet, one that your staff will be buzzing about long into the New Year, a real celebration of all the hard work your team has put in. To help you get some ideas going, here are a few things to think about...
Food and drink
When attending an event of any sort, everyone will be asking at least of one of the following…
“Will there be food?”
“What will the food be like?”
“Will there be complimentary drinks?”
Your food and drink decision is a biggie, but making careful choices could have your Christmas party ranked above all. It’s always a good idea to offer complimentary drinks to your staff, whether it’s a glass of champagne on arrival or a few bottles of wine on the table – it’s the perfect way to get people in the mood for a party.
If your budget stretches, offering additional drinks throughout the night will help your employees to relax and simply enjoy the event without having to worry about money so find a venue that offers drinks packages. Organising a private party? Why not make up a themed cocktail specific to your business? Or, you could go one step further and create specific cocktails for different teams or specific employees.
Food is often the be-all and end-all of a Christmas party for some people. Luckily, the choice for food is endless, it just needs to fit your style of party. If you want your employees to mingle a little more, having a buffet or sharing platter spaced out will encourage party-goers to move around and see people they wouldn’t usually work with. If you’re thinking more of a sit-down meal, a good old fashioned roast dinner never fails and it’s ideal for lining the stomach in preparation for the night ahead.
To make your food options really memorable, you could opt for some more unique options – like a doughnut wall or build-your-own food stations. Remember, presentation is everything – you can really wow attendees just by making sure your food areas look exciting and full.
Deciding where you’ll host your Christmas do is another big decision that could make or break your party. Do you want to be nearby to your office or somewhere further afield? If so, do they offer on-site accommodation? Are you open to sharing a venue with other people or are you thinking of more of a private affair? Sometimes, shared parties can help smaller teams feel part of a bigger party atmosphere, whilst a private event offers the perfect opportunity for big get-togethers across different departments.
Your Christmas party venue is a subtle yet very important factor that can easily be overlooked. All too often, businesses tend to stick to the tried-and-tested hotel down the road with an events room. If you want your venue to really impress your guests, why not think a little out of the box? There are plenty of unique venues available that can offer all the space you need with added wow-factor – a sports stadium, a castle, a concert hall – something a little different to the usual ‘rent a room’.
You should also consider accessibility before making a decision on a venue. How easy is it to get to? Will your guests need to book taxis or are there train stations and bus stops nearby? Is it accessible to all of your employees, regardless of where they commute from? You don’t want your party to be memorable for the wrong reasons, like guests getting stranded a hundred miles in the middle of nowhere with limited transport options. For large groups, you may want to consider booking a coach – or something a bit more out there, like a party bus – to help everyone get to your chosen location.
Now for the entertainment, where do you start? Do you hire a live band? Or go for a festive DJ? Maybe you’ll opt for something a little different - a magician maybe? Whatever you decide, you should make it fun, something people can get involved with. Here are a few ideas…
Whether they admit it or not, everybody loves a good sing-song to some classic tunes. It might take a while for people to take part, but once the drinks start flowing they’ll be up in no time requesting their favourite songs. It’ll definitely be a memorable experience for all who attend…
Hire a photo booth, provide props or choose a specific theme and offer free prints to your staff (or hold them as blackmail…). It’s a fun way to bring colleagues together and have a laugh. You could even use them as decoration to give your office a little personal touch in the new year.
Deep down, everyone loves a party game, no matter how old. They’re a great team-building activity and can help everyone to feel involved. How about an updated take on pass the parcel, where everyone buys a present and then the gifts are sent around the circle until the music stops, at which point everyone opens whichever present they’re holding at the time. Or if you’ve got a dance floor at your venue, you shouldn’t miss the opportunity for a team dance-off. Marketing vs. sales, anyone?