The annual Christmas party is one of the most important dates in the company calendar. It’s a time to celebrate the successes of the past year and finally let your hair down, so getting the party right is a big responsibility.
A few drinks down the local simply won’t suffice; you want this party to be memorable and talked about for years to come. To help, here’s our guide to hosting the perfect corporate Christmas party.
Hire a stunning venue
The venue is the most important aspect of any party, as it’s what people will see first and remember most. You’ll want to find somewhere unique that makes people go ‘wow’ as soon as they arrive, not a boring office or warehouse space.
Bear in mind that all the best venues get booked up quickly, so you need to start planning your Christmas party a year in advance. It may seem excessive, but it’s the only way to ensure you’ll get the venue and the vendors you want. Being organised is the key to party planning, after all!
As well as boasting charm and character, your venue must be practical. Is it in easy reach? Are there plenty of hotels nearby? Is it within your budget? What’s included in the package? Is there enough space for all your guests? Make sure you have firm answers to all these questions before you book.
The best thing to do is visit each venue you’re considering in person, as this will allow you to get a much better feel of the place than photos alone. Then you can talk to the staff in person and discuss the available packages in more detail.
Set the date and let everyone know
When deciding when to host your Christmas party you must consider what’s best for everyone. Naturally, not every single employee will be able to make it, no matter how much notice you give them in advance, but try to accommodate as many as possible. Most Christmas parties take place the Friday before the company breaks for two weeks.
Of course, some venues may offer a discount for hosting your party earlier in the week, but no one is going to want to go wild on a Monday night if they have to work on Tuesday morning.
Once you’ve chosen the day of the party, send a ‘save the date’ round the office and try to get a good idea of numbers and any possible dietary requirements. This can be difficult to do if you’re planning the event a year in advance, but remember that the venue will only ask for final figures a few weeks before the party.
Decide on a theme
Every party must have a theme, whether it’s black tie or a different form of fancy dress. The theme will dictate the menu, decorations, dress code, entertainment, music…everything! If you want a classy and simple affair with a sit-down meal, a black-tie event is best. After something a bit different and memorable? Choose a wonderfully festive theme, such as Santa’s workshop or Dicken’s Christmas.
If you know your employees aren’t into fancy dress, they don’t have to. It could just be the staff and the setting that turns into a Victorian Christmas. Whatever theme you choose, be sure to discuss it with your venue, who may be able to contact some props companies for you and arrange for the place to be dressed exactly the way you want it, so you don’t have to do it yourself.
Source incredible food and drink
The food (and drink) makes or breaks a party, as it’s the aspect your guests look forward to most, especially if it’s a sit-down meal, as they will expect it to be restaurant-quality. Everything from canapes to night-caps will need to be planned carefully.
Whoever your caterers are, whether in-house or external, it’s important to sit down with them and create a menu which suits your party. They should provide you with a tasting menu so you can see the quality of the food and the types of dishes they can produce. Don’t feel you have to go with a traditional Christmas menu if you don’t want to, and remember, there’s lots of great festive food other than turkey and mince pies!
While you’ll need to cater to any special dietary requirements, it’s best to have a set menu rather than letting people decide from a handful of choice. This means that people don’t have to sit in assigned seats and there’s no chance of any mix-ups or complaints.
You may not want to pay for an open-bar at your Christmas party (things could get very messy, after all), but you should make sure each guest is welcomed with a drink when they arrive. There’s lots of options to choose from, including festive cocktails, prosecco and mulled wine to name a few. Be sure to provide non-alcoholic options too, of course.
Plan the music and entertainment
Who’s providing the music for your party? A DJ is a popular choice as they don’t have to adhere to a certain style of music – everyone can request the songs they like. However, a band or musician may be better if you want to stick to a theme. Feel free to do a survey at work and see what your employees prefer before deciding.
If your venue has a PA system, see if it’s possible to play background music in the areas surrounding the main room, such as the bathrooms. This will ensure the party-vibe is maintained throughout. You also need to speak to your venue regarding the stage and lighting system, so you can let your music act know what they have to work with and what they may need to bring.
Additional entertainment, such as performers, can help make an evening memorable and tie into your theme. For example, casino tables are perfect for 1920s-themed parties. Other popular choices include dance acts, cocktail flairing, fireworks and magicians.
Everyone will be taking selfies on their smartphones, but having a professional photographer on-site is a great idea. Not only will they be able to capture the atmosphere better, you can use the photos for marketing collateral afterwards e.g. social media, blog posts, and other promotional material.
Make a speech
Christmas parties are a chance to celebrate all the hard work your employees have put in over the past year, so a speech affirming that fact is vital. The timing of the speech is important – do it too late in the evening and everyone will be too rowdy to pay attention. Just after clearing of the dinner has ended tends to be the best time.
Ideally, the managing director should make the speech, which should be kept short and sweet. After dinner, people will be itching to get up and enjoy the entertainment on offer – they don’t want to listen to an hour of talking. Some companies give out special awards or recognitions during their Christmas party. If you plan to do this, make sure someone is designated to look after the gifts (if applicable), as some guests may accidentally leave them behind.
There’s a lot to consider when planning a corporate Christmas party, but the venue you choose can make all the difference. At The Brewery, we host Christmas parties with a difference. With a unique theme each year, our historic Grade II-listed venue is the place to impress your guests with. Our food, drink, music and entertainment cannot be matched, there are no hidden costs, and we provide packages for every size of business, from tiny start-ups to huge corporations.
For more details about our festive offering, get in touch with us today. We’re ready to make that next Christmas celebration an extra special one.