10 tips for planning a Christmas party

When it comes to party planning, there’s a lot more involved than just putting some bon-bons on the tables. These 10 tips will help you organise a (Christmas) cracker of an event!

1. Choose event type + write your guest list.

Will you invite staff only, or will you invite clients too? Is it a family-friendly event, or a cocktail event? Sit-down dinner, or long lunch? Maybe a backyard end-of-year bust up is more your style?

Write your guest list, and use the number of people to help you in choosing venue options.

2. Pick a date + book your venue.

November and December are busy with parties and end-of-year events, so your guests’ schedules will be filling up! Be sure to start your planning early. Select a date, and enquire availability at your preferred venue/s.

3. Set a realistic budget.

Start by writing a list of everything you’ll need – food, drink, cutlery, decorations, staffing, audio, lights, entertainment, port-a-loos, etc.

You may need to jump to Step 4 and obtain quotes during your budgeting, if you don’t have past budgets to guide you. Keep in mind too, your budget may actually determine the event type.

4. Select a theme + add some Christmas cheer.

Your theme could be a real theme (like winter wonderland, or Hawaiian beach party), or simply a colour scheme – it doesn’t need to be over the top if you don’t want it to be.

Be sure to deliver some sort of festive cheer too – whether it’s through decorations, novelty Santa hats or reindeer ears, fun team awards, silly games or entertainment. Classic ways include Secret Santa gift giving, themed cocktails, or simply putting bon-bons on tables.

5. Design your invite.

Your invite needs to include all essential information such as date, time, venue, event name, dress code, RSVP details and of course whether a guest is invited also.

You can use a free template from design sites like Canva that you can print or send by email. Alternatively, outsource the task of design to your preferred graphic designer.

6. Send your invitations.

Send your invitation out with plenty of notice. If it is a big party, or you will be spending considerable budget on the event, you could send out a Save the Date notice months ahead of the event.

As you approach 1-2 weeks out from your event, follow up your outstanding RSVP list. Then send a reminder to all attending guests either the day before, or day of the event as a sweet reminder.

(Sites like Paperless Post will send and track digital invites, including sending reminders and collating your attendance list for you.)

7. Build your dream team.

To deliver an event, you will need food and drinks. Often venues will offer catering packages with onsite catering team or preferred suppliers. If you are hosting a private party however, you may need to source your own caterer. Also, you will require entertainment (band? Singer? DJ? Spotify playlist? Jumping castle and a face painter for the kids?). You may also need events specialist to set up and decorate the venue, and even supply the tables, chairs, bar infrastructure, dance floor, audio, lighting and anything else that isn’t included with your venue.

8. Don’t forget the loos!

When party planning, we often focus on the guest list, menu and decorations, but just as important is having essentials like enough toilets. (Let’s be real, toilets aren’t particularly glamorous!) If your party is outdoors, be sure to think about the facilities available. You don’t want your guests spending half the party lining up for the loo.

As a guide allow one toilet for every 50-75 guests and if your event includes camping this number increases as the usage is much greater.

9. Have fun!

Enjoy the event you’ve worked so hard to create.

10. Take mental notes.

After the event, review it and take note of what worked, what didn’t and how you would do it differently for next time.

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