What You Need To Think About When Planning Your Christmas Party Part #1: Setting the Stage

So it's the beginning of July and summer is here - now is the time to book and start planning your Christmas party!

Hard to believe that you should start Christmas party planning 6 months in advance but leave it much later and you run the risk of losing out on the date you want, the venue you like and the best caterers and entertainment.

To get you started we've listed the things you need to think about when planning and booking your next Christmas party.

1. Leaving It To The Last Minute

We all put things off, but as the corporate Christmas party is probably the biggest event of the year for staff and managers and the one true opportunity for employees to get together and enjoy themselves courtesy of the company it's important to start planning well in advance. Even though it's only the summer many companies start their Christmas party planning now as they're aware that the festive season is a busy period for potential party venues.

By starting now companies can improve their chances of getting the options they want rather than to make do with 'what's left'. To ensure you get the date and the venue you want and to be able to pick and choose caterers and entertainment for your event now is the time to start planning!

2. Picking The Right Date

Just as it's important to start planning early it's equally important to pick the right date. Check to make sure there aren't any scheduling conflicts that are likely to clash with the date you have in mind e.g. large work orders are being processed or key employees have requested time off for annual holiday leave.

Once you know what dates you have to work with send out an email to all staff asking them what date they would prefer. It's important to give yourself a number of date options so that when you start your search for your venue you have some flexibility when choosing the final date.

3. Working Out Your Budget and Sticking To It

A corporate Christmas party can be expensive and budgets can quickly get away from you so be careful to work out what you have to spend and stick to it!

Break down your likely Christmas party expenses and think about how much you want to allocate to each: venue, catering (venue supplied or outside catering) and entertainment.

It's important to try to make the most of your budget by getting the best value for money. You can do this by getting more than one quote and then comparing them, like for like. You may find that different venues are more expensive for some things and cheaper for others so it may come down to a judgement call on the "overall" best value package available.

4. Picking the Right Venue

The office

Most companies are now moving away from having the company Christmas party in the office as it's no longer seen as the best way of rewarding employees for a year of hard work. The office will always be the office, regardless of how many Christmas trees and decorations you put up. It's always going to be full of reminders of jobs that still need to be done and emails waiting to be opened. Instead, it may be better to choose somewhere away from the office that will enable people to forget about work for a while, feel "rewarded" for a job well done, and enjoy themselves without work being a distracting factor.

Same place every year

Although the temptation may be to book the same place every year to avoid the hassle of having to go through planning each and every time, it can become predictable and run the risk of becoming boring. It's worth considering a new venue (at least every other year) so that staff can enjoy a new experience and know they are worth the effort someone has put into finding a new Christmas party location.

Booking the venue the boss likes

Think carefully about booking a venue just because it's the boss's favourite place. Just because the boss likes it doesn't mean everyone else will. Find a venue that feels like the right choice for as many members of staff as possible (of course you'll never be able to please everyone) but you should be able to please the majority.

In town vs. an out of town venue

Consider what type of venue would work best. An out of town venue may be more private and exclusive but it may take longer to reach. It may also mean that taxis home afterwards may be very expensive, unless of course you're planning to lay on transportation e.g. a late-night coach back to the centre of town from where everyone can get home more easily. If you do decide to go 'out of town' you should consider negotiating reduced room prices for people who want to stay the night.

Staying in town is usually more convenient for staff to reach but hotels are much more likely to be in high demand so booking early is again highly recommended.

Look at what each venue offers

Take the time to look at a number of venues and compare what each of them offers. It's also worth considering negotiating the price for the venue as well as for food and drinks. Let each party venue know you're looking at other options and if you like a particular venue that's more expensive than others ask them if they will meet or beat your other quotes.

Continue to the 2nd part of this article.

Christmas Party Booking Agents

If you're looking for a booking agency to arrange your Christmas party booking then Booking Partners can help you book and plan the perfect party. Contact us on +44 (0)330 022 8643 or via e-mail at reservations@bookingpartners.co.uk.

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