So your boss has come to you and given you the fun task of planning your work Christmas Party! It’s a huge responsibility, and is quite often the most anticipated work event of the year.
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This wouldn’t be a 2020 blog post if I didn’t open it straight up with a chat about COVID right? It seems everything we read, hear and do is all around the topic. Rightfully so as well, it is a pandemic after all. The biggest mistake you could make in 2020 planning an event, is not considering COVID and it’s impact on your party.
COVID has changed our landscape of events dramatically over the last 9 or so months. From events initially entirely illegal in the first lock down, to events now being reintroduced after easing of restrictions, albeit, slightly different to how we usually see them.
You now need to consider if your event is under the gathering threshold legally allowed number of attending guests, or if you need an Event Planner to create a COVID safe plan for you. What do the restrictions say around grazing boards and mingling? Can your colleagues dance?
There are so many more questions that need to be asked, when planning an event, now more than ever before. It’s no longer just about the décor and the music. It’s now about ensuring the safety of your guests. These restrictions are ever changing, and can change with very little notice, to make them more strict or more relaxed, depending on our numbers.
It’s incredibly important to be checking these regularly, both when initially planning your Christmas Party, but also as you lead up to the event date. Make sure you are checking reliable and up to date sources as well. Sometimes the PDF you are reading was up to date a week ago, but has since had another revision released.
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2. Drinks and Food Balance
We all know what it’s like. The boss puts drinks on and everyone lets loose a little bit. That’s the whole point of a Christmas Party right? To celebrate the year that was, with your work family and colleagues. It’s an incredibly fine line though, between having a good time and having Mark from IT strip dancing on the tables (you know who you are Mark and no-one wants to see it)!!
The best way to do this is to ensure there is ample food on offer, and lots of soft drinks and water options for guests. One of the biggest mistakes is having small canapes served for an hour upon arrival, and then nothing else for the rest of the night.
Always make sure you have substantial food on offer for your guests throughout the night. I often say to keep food rolling as long as possible, but at the very least, until the last hour, thus ensuring people are not drinking alcohol on an empty stomach.
Water is a big one! I styled a Christmas Party a few years back. The company organised it all, I just did decorations, and the person planning it forgot to organise water for the guests. A night of alcohol, dancing, minimal food and no water was not a great combination, let me tell you.
3. Consider your staff!
This one seems obvious, but you would be surprised. Have a think about your staff, what kind of people are they? What do they like and what do they not like? What do they do on their weekends for fun?
Matching the style and type of event to the guest list is incredibly important. I have just finished planning an event for a Metal Company. They were adamant the event needed to be incredibly casual. We ended up using a food truck and palette furniture for an incredibly laid back occasion. This company knew their target audience. They knew there was no way they would get their staff in penguin suits, sitting at a fine dinning 5 course degustation dinner.
Look there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this! The most important thing though, is that you are doing what your staff want. It doesn’t matter if you want the Black Tie event, if you’re staff are going to be uncomfortable and miserable, you may as well cancel the event now, and save the money.
If you’re not sure, ask them! Send out a quick survey with a few options on what they want to do. You’ll figure out pretty quickly what your staff are looking for, and you can almost guarantee the event will be a hit.
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4. Planning Last Minute
I see this one all the time, and I’m not going to lie, I got caught when I was first starting out. Leaving Christmas Party planning to the month of December. This couldn’t be a bigger mistake if you tried.
People start booking their Christmas parties as early as 6 months out. I set a calendar reminder for each of my long term clients to book the venue for their Christmas Party in June. I don’t lock much else in at that time, but I at least pay a deposit to secure the space.
Good luck trying to find a venue for more than a table of 5 on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday in the entire month of November and December. It is honestly impossible.
This then limits the spaces that are available to choose from, and means instead of getting your first pick, you’re on the phone begging the 10th venue to move a few things around so they can squeeze you in. Not how you want to start your planning, especially with the venue, which is often one of the most important decisions.
Entertainment is the last big mistake I want to talk about in this blog. We all know what entertainment has the ability to do. It can liven up the room and get everyone moving and excited, or it can be a real buzz kill depending on what you decide.
This decision again comes down to your staff and what they’re looking for or not looking for. If you’re doing an outdoor Food Truck like I mentioned before, a string quartet probably isn’t going to hype up your guests for a good time.
It’s also important to consider other options of entertainment, especially in times of COVID when dancing may not be possible. Other popular entertainment sources at the moment have been comedians, short film artists, and even activities like trivia and employee prizes to keep everyone engaged and having fun.
Your Christmas Party should be a fun and memorable event, regardless of what it looks like, or what you do. If you’re already thinking about these top 5 mistakes and how you can avoid them, you’re streets ahead. If you’re still not sure, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we would love to have a chat about how we can help make your Christmas Party unforgettable.