It’s that time of year again! Time to start planning your annual holiday parties. Oh, I know, it’s barely Halloween. But the holidays are coming quicker than you think. Before you know it it’ll be Thanksgiving, with Christmas and New Year’s just around the corner.
If there’s one secret to planning a successful event of any kind, it’s planning early. That’s doubly true for holiday parties. Remember, this is one of the busiest times of the year for hired venues, caterers, and entertainers (not to mention your guests), so you need to get the ball rolling now if you’re going to be ready for the holiday season.
Planning any event requires a lot of work, but it can be especially hectic around the holidays. There’s much to consider, and it’s easy to miss some key points in the process. To make things easier, we’ve put together a few tips to help you cover some commonly overlooked aspects of holiday party planning. If you remember to cover these during the planning stages, your party should be a rousing success on all fronts.
What Type of Party Are You Planning
There are many holiday theme ideas. However, it is important to decide what type of party you’re going to host. The style of your affair will have a major impact on the choice of venue. For example, a simple restaurant may be suitable for a sit down dinner, but it might not be ideal for an elegant cocktail party. Then again, if you’re going for an all out let your hair down festive feel, you’ll want to book a venue that provides plenty of room for your guests to mingle and, when the entertainment starts, hit the dance floor.
The style of party you’re staging will also have a big impact on the services you hire. A formal sit down dinner will have different catering needs than a buffet or cocktail party, and each will bring a different set of staffing concerns. It’s important to define the style of your event ahead of time, so that it will be easier to book the services you need to make your party a hit with all of your guests.
No holiday party is complete without entertainment, but there are some key choices to be made early on in the planning process. Do you want to hire a band or a DJ to get your guests mingling and out on the dance floor, or do you want to provide something a little more interactive?
Again, your choice of entertainment will be influenced by the style of party you are planning, and by the guest list itself. Here are a couple of basic choices to consider:
Performance – For most holiday parties this means musical entertainers, either a DJ or a live band. For larger corporate parties, it can easily extend to guest speakers, comedians, or even a magician. From the planning perspective, it is important to make sure that the venue you hire can accommodate the entertainers.
Can they provide an in house PA system, or will that be the responsibility of you or the entertainers. Can the venue accommodate a separate stage area, with room for lights and equipment, or is it simply too small? These are important questions to ask before you book your entertainment.
Interactive – Interactive entertainment can do a lot to promote a real party atmosphere, and it can really get your guests up and having a great time. Of course, you have to choose the kind of hands on entertainment that will appeal to your guests. Again, the choice will depend on the type of party you are hosting.
If your guest lists includes any children, you will want to make sure that the games and entertainers you hire are entirely suitable for a family audience. You might consider some carnival style games, a photo-booth, or even a clown or two.
If it’s strictly an adult party, you’ll have a little more leeway. For example, you might bring in a mobile casino. Above all, consider what is suitable for the majority of your guests, and avoid any games or entertainers that they might find questionable.
Finally, a key player at many holiday parties is the open bar. But there are some important things to consider if you are planning on serving alcohol at your event. First, you must confirm that the venue you book is licensed to serve on the premises. This is a major point to consider.
If the venue you have booked is not licensed to serve, you may have to apply to the county or state for a temporary liquor license. This can take time, so plan ahead. Second, you will have to hire a bartender and accompanying staff. Each state is different, with some requiring that all bartenders be licensed. Keep that in mind when hiring service staff. Even if your state does not require bartenders to be licensed, you want to be sure you hire someone with experience, and preferably one that has been trained in the proper service of alcohol.
That doesn’t just mean knowing how to mix a mean cocktail. It means knowing when not to serve a guest who may be enjoying themselves a little too much (if you know what I mean). The safety of your guests is paramount, and you need to hire bar staff that understand that, and are prepared to cut off anyone who has had too much to drink. Transportation availabiliy has also become a great plan to add on to your party especially if alcohol is available. Hiring a taxi service to take guests home is not only beneficial for the company hosting but also the guests.
Pulling it All Together…
If you’re in charge of this year’s holiday extravaganza, hopefully you’ve already started planning the big event. After all, the holidays can creep up on you pretty quickly and before you know it the venues will all be booked and the caterers and entertainers will have their calendars full. But while you’re planning your holiday celebrations, keep these few tips in mind. They can be easy to overlook, but they can have a major impact on the success of your event, and on the enjoyment of your guests.