It’s Monday morning. You’re still enjoying the last of the weekend feel good factor as you open your email. Only to find that the office Christmas party has been handed to you to organize this year.
First things first. Don’t panic. Find out whether the budget will stretch to engaging an expert to arrange it for you. No point in wasting money, after all. A corporate events organiser won’t be cheap but they will avert embarrassing faux pas like running out of food or alcohol, having the entire company discuss the mess you made of the party organisation or how dire the food was. I’ve had a few of those before – and I remember the bad ones just as vividly as I remember the good ones, trust me.
What can you expect if you hire a professional arranger to organise your party for you? Well, if you give them the spec, they will sort everything out. You’ll need to let them know important things such as:
- The budget, for starters
- A suitable geographic area for a venue
- The approximate number of guests (and whether this is staff only or staff and partners)
- The type of food you wish to have served
- Any dietary requirements you’d like to offer your staff (vegetarian, lactose-free, gluten-free, wheat-free, halal, kosher and other special requests)
- Any party theme (maybe specific colours, a particular idea to have everyone follow in their dress, or even full fancy dress)
- Possible ideas for entertainment; before or after the meal – or both, perhaps
The arranger can then go and research their options – obviously, the looser your spec, the better for them – and let you know of suitable matches. Most conference venues and country clubs have decent facilities to host all kinds of parties. I’ve stayed at venues hosting on the same evening a gaming themed film wrap party in one area and a church retreat in another. Not that neither group met, but more that it was ensured that one group didn’t stray too far into the area of the other. These big venues also offer full hotel facilities at the same location, so there is always the option to give your employees the opportunity to stay over after a good party as part of the package. Trust me, a room on the premises to get changed in and stagger back to has made the difference for many a partygoer! If there are enough potential takers, your fixer may well be able to negotiate a discount, especially if they or your firm are regular users of the hotel.
If you intend to hold the party locally to your company’s location, you should consider asking your organiser to research options for paid travel home. One firm I worked for back in the day organised coach pick up from the nearest branch for their Christmas party, held at a local race course, with pre-arranged drop offs at designated locations after the bash. The coach drivers checked guests onto the coach from the venue and always seemed to prefer that you had someone meeting you at the end of your journey.
The arranger will deal with details you hadn’t even thought of, such as working out with the venue the number of staff they will need to cater for your event, and the best room in which to host a party of your company’s size. If it’s a professional conference venue, their caterers will be experienced in feeding hundreds of people per night, and will know exactly how much food to order in too. Plus it will be tasty, fresh and steaming hot, because they will have the knack of producing a new dish just when you need it.
Whether you have little to no idea of what entertainment you would like, or a precise idea of exactly which current game show you’d like to send up, the corporate organiser will source the right person or people to provide that for you and your colleagues. Award winning reality shows, computer game challenges, vote’em offs or good old fashioned quiz shows, they have seen them all and can set you up with your very own version, themed around the fancy dress of the night, the firm, or simply just how many colleagues CAN actually dance.
Now, that themed dressing or fancy dress. Not difficult, really. A choice of colours: red and green for Christmas or white, silver and blue to signify a winter wonderland. Or maybe you could ask your colleagues to dress as their favourite film or musical character. Perhaps be daring and suggest a Hawaiian beach party with Bermudas, flip flops and loud shirts as dress code (then hope it isn’t the coldest night of the year!)
No more does the ‘Christmas party’ have to be a two course meal in the local pub with drink paid for by the employees themselves after the one free drink per person grudgingly provided by management. No matter how wacky, these corporate entertainment firms have probably organised a bash just as wacky before, and they’ll have ideas even when yours run out.
So, if the money is there, you will be able to give your hard-working colleagues a night to remember for all the right reasons.