Top tips for planning a unique Christmas party

If you want to host a unique event that will be remembered for all the right reasons, some serious festive organising now will ensure your Christmas party runs smoothly. Here Daniel Gill, founder of event management and catering company Dine, provides his top tips for planning a creative Christmas party.

The Christmas party is a key part of your staff engagement strategy and the perfect opportunity to celebrate success, boost staff morale and retain key workers so it is important to get it right. The success of a Christmas party comes down to good planning.

Establish your objectives
Be clear about what you want your event to achieve. Is your Christmas party purely to celebrate the achievements of your business over the past year or is it for something more than that? Are you looking to build connections, attract new clients or thank the existing ones? 
Establishing your objectives can give you a better idea of how much you are willing to spend and what you might want your theme to be. If your company is renowned for its creativity, or if your event is more informal there are often no limits. Experienced event caterers such as Dine are experts in being creative with budgets of any size and can offer a wide range of options that will fit your event or provide totally bespoke suggestions.

Location, location, location
The location for an event is arguably the most important stage in planning a party, whether it be at Christmas or other times of the year. The venue will set the tone and provide the chance to theme the event and location accordingly. This will influence how guests interact with each other and use the space.

It is important to identify what you want from a venue before you make your choice – capacity, location, ambience, accessibility, local accommodation and budget should all be considered.

Don’t forget that if you’re looking for a unique venue or somewhere with the ‘wow’ factor these tend to book up quickly. Dine often takes bookings for Christmas parties a year in advance so if you want a large selection of venues to choose from, start looking early.

Be adventurous
Don’t stay with the tried and tested. If planned well, taking risks is often a fantastic way to enhance your company’s reputation and prove you possess creativity and innovation. An unexpected and unique party will be more likely to create an unforgettable event which both clients and colleagues will remember for all the right reasons.

Satisfy your guests’ appetite through innovative ideas and themes. We’ve been asked to organise everything from a Christmas barbecue, geocaching for Secret Santa presents in the park, or old-fashioned parlour games for a more traditional feel. Tailor your event around exceptional food and service to ensure the event has the right impact and delivers its objectives.

A festive feast
Invest time in your food to fully reflect your company and its values. Bespoke menus tailored to your event that may not reflect a traditional Christmas feast are fantastic for creating an extra special party. It can also give you and your guests inspiration for their own Christmas dinners. Exceptional menus provide an immediate talking point.

It’s important to find your venue before creating a menu as you will need to ensure the location of your party can meet your expectations. Always ask the right questions but if you’re unsure, catering companies like Dine can lead you. With a wealth of experience to share, it’s guaranteed that your menu will work perfectly with the location of your party.

Remember to cater for dietary requirements, always arrange a tasting before you make your final choice so that you can make any changes, and you may want to incorporate elements of your theme into the food.

Award winning marketing and communications agency Brass held a ‘Mad Brassers’ Alice in Wonderland themed Christmas party at The Mansion in 2016. This is a great example of how perfect planning leads to a successful event.

The company invited its team to a creative Christmas party being staged at The Mansion, Leeds.  Designed to showcase and reward staff achievement over the course of the year, the party theme of ‘The Mad Brassers Tea Party’ was a real head-turner. The Mansion was chosen as the perfect venue in which to showcase the quirky and extravagant decorations and props used to create the event.

Brass customised The Mansion roomwith a selection of oversized ‘Alice in Wonderland’ props hired especially for the occasion; including a giant chess set, inflatable ‘croquet’ flamingo’s and oversized ‘drink me’ bottles. Added to this was a variety of bespoke decorations and an ‘in character’ Mad Hatter as an alternative ‘Master of Ceremonies’.

Guests arrived at the venue located 15 minutes from Leeds city centre from 5.45pm and were greeted with an arrival cocktail in the Grand Staircase Hall.  Guests were offered the opportunity to take photographs with supplied props and the Mad Hatter himself offering an opportunity to post on social media.  Those who felt so inclined could test their strategic skills by taking part in a giant chess game in the Colonnades, or have a game of flamingo ‘croquet’.

Following drinks and canapés, guests were invited to dinner in The Mansion room which had been meticulously decorated with fairy light ‘trees’ and centre-piece ‘branches’ from which were hung a selection of chocolates and trinkets, all following the ‘Mad Brassers’ Alice in Wonderland theme.

From 9.00pm, a Brass ‘Awards Ceremony’ was staged, celebrating the individuals and achievements of the agency throughout 2016, while desserts were served. 

The Verdict

“The Mansion provided the perfect setting for our amazing ‘Mad Brassers Tea Party’ Christmas party. So many people commented on the grandeur of the setting, the creativity of the props, and stated that it was ‘the best party yet’! The location, entertainment and food offered the perfect package for a wonderfully creative and enjoyable Christmas party.”