Planning a holiday party and don’t know where to begin? Our event managers know a thing or two about event planning, so here are some holiday party planning tips from our staff to help you in hosting the perfect party this year.
Figure out the vision and goals for the party
First and foremost, you need to have a vision in mind and set goals for the party. Trust us, this will make your life easier when trying to figure out the other necessities like food, drinks, decorations, activities, etc. Everything at your party must align with your clear vision and goals. An example vision would be to host a 1970’s themed party and invite your guests to dress up in gear from that decade. The goals would be to create a fun dance party environment, entertain the guests with 1970s games and trivia and transform the venue into a 1970s lounge.
Round up the troops
Lots of planning means you’re going to need lots of help! Find a good crew that will help you in all things holiday party. This includes helping brainstorm the vision, coming up with the menu, activities, decorations and dividing up tasks before, during and after the party. Setting a time frame leading up to the party with deadlines of what must be done will help you tremendously.
Know your folks
It’s important to know who will be invited to the party and how many of them are coming. Is it a family get-together, a party with friends or an office holiday party? When you know who your guests are, you can then decide what type of environment will be appropriate. Figure out what your guests enjoy most at parties and make it happen. Knowing the number of guests will also be helpful when choosing a venue, food and beverages, etc.
Make a budget
Whether you have an unlimited budget or no budget at all, a party can be festive at any price point. Creating a budget will help you figure out what you want to allocate the most money towards. Revisit your vision and goals to help you prioritize what you’re willing to spend money on. There are ways to maneuver around without a huge budget. Utilize your resources and get creative!
Create a timeline and checklist
Organization is key to hosting a successful holiday party. Deciding what time the party will start and end is an important factor to consider. Certain aspects of your party will be dependent upon the time of day the party is being held. For example, if your party is in the morning, it would be appropriate to serve breakfast items as opposed to dinner items. Additionally, creating a timeline for the actual party and a checklist will remind everyone of their duties for the event. A few items to consider on this checklist/timeline would be: set up time and who is doing that, what time dinner is being served, what time the live band starts performing and break down time.
Select a location
Once you have an estimate of how many party goers you have, it’s time to find the perfect location. Will the party be at your house, the office or a venue? If hosting at your house, make sure there is enough space for your guests to comfortably sit, eat and dance (if applicable). If in the office, make sure you have the appropriate kitchen appliances to help keep the beverages cold and the food fresh. If you decide to rent a venue, this pretty much takes a lot of the work off your hands as most venues have their own staff to arrange set up, catering and break down.
Decide on food and beverages
Happy guests = fun party! What makes guests happy? Food. You need to figure out what type of food you’re serving, how much you need and who is cooking or bringing the food. If you decide on doing a potluck, it is extremely important to make a list and have people sign up for certain dishes. This will help you avoid the dreaded 18 desserts with one entrée menu. If potlucks aren’t your style, you can always hire a caterer who can take care of everything. You also need to determine who is bringing the drinks and ice. If it’s an adult party, make sure your guests are being responsible and be prepared to call a taxi just in case. Where there are food and drinks, there will be a mess. Don’t forget the paper towels, napkins, utensils, cups and plates!
Be prepared to have entertainment and activities
Every party needs some form of entertainment. Whether you book a live band, a DJ with an awesome light set-up or play music from your iPod, there should be music playing to get the party going. Do you need a dance floor? Does the venue have one or do you need to rent one for your office party? Make sure you ask these questions before the party and not during. Revisit your vision when figuring out ways to entertain your guests. It’s always fun to keep the party’s theme alive by incorporating it into your activities. For example, playing games like white elephant, bingo, trivia or having a dance contest can easily be used for a variety of themed parties.
Thank your guests
When the party is over, thank your guests for coming and having a good time. It’s also important to thank the wonderful people who helped plan and execute the party. All of your attendees took the time to come party with you and they will come out again if they feel welcomed!
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