Holiday Planning Party Tips
‘Tis the season to throw marvelous, merry holiday parties. As the holiday season approaches, it’s better to start planning a party sooner rather than later. To ensure guests have a jolly good time at your festive party, here are some things to do:
- 1. Find the perfect venue
- 2. Incorporate a party theme with accompanying decor
- 3. Create a menu for food and drink
- 4. Plan party events and entertainment
- 5. Keep things running smoothly and stress-free during your party
- 6. Have a plan for clean-up after the party’s over
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How to Plan a Holiday Party: Find a Venue
When throwing the perfect party, space is everything. In recent years, people have been gravitating toward non-traditional event spaces in the hopes of hosting a memorable, unique event. Even though it may only be used for one night, you should treat venue-hunting pretty seriously in order to host an unforgettable event. With the added busyness of the holiday season, you should also start the venue search sooner than later to ensure enough time to explore all possible options. Here’s where to start.
Location and Accessibility
When choosing a venue, keep distance in mind. The venue should be in a relatively central location for all guests. Ideally, the venue will have plenty of parking spots for all guests who plan to drive and will be close to public transportation for guests who do not. You could also look at the area around the venue to determine if it’s a good match for your client’s party-hosting needs. For example, you wouldn’t want to choose a venue impossible for guests to get to due to traffic, or a venue in a quiet neighborhood with strict noise ordinances if you expect the party to get a little loud.
Ask Questions and Take Pictures
When touring venues, it’s vital to ask plenty of questions so there’s nothing is up in the air when it comes time to celebrate. Go over things such as catering and beverage rules. Find out if the venue supplies their own tables and chairs. You need to know what time you can start setting up for your client’s party and what time everyone has to leave, and if there’s an additional fee for getting out late. Taking pictures of all the venues you visit will give you a visual reference and can be an important factor when making a final decision. It’s also important to check on the venue’s open-flame policy: will they permit lit candles, or must you use LED candles? Think through your decor when deciding on a venue!
Envision Your Party There
Schedule to tour venues at the same time of day as the party. If the party starts at 7 p.m., it may be best to not visit the venue at 3 p.m., as doing so won’t give you a true idea of how the lighting will look during the event. Check out space and determine if there’s enough for what you have planned. If a band is scheduled to play, is there room for them? Are the acoustics good? Are there enough restrooms for guests? If the answer is no to any of these questions, that venue may not be the best option.
How to Plan a Christmas Party: Choose a Theme and Decor
Choose a theme will help you put the party together, as your theme will influence the decorations and other elements. Of course, some decorations are simply staples for the season, such as Christmas trees, wreaths and holiday string lights, but theme will ultimately decide how you use and decorate them. When picking a theme, it’s important to consider your audience. Will guests bring children? How many people plan to attend? What is the average age of guests attending?
Holiday party themes seem to be endless, so don’t be afraid to ask guests for their opinion. Some may even opt to hold a poll and have guests vote on a theme. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
1. White Christmas
No snow this year? No problem. Create your own winter wonderland with a White Christmas theme. Put together a playlist full of songs about snow and ask guests to wear white. It can make for an elegant and beautiful event! Here are some ways to incorporate decor at your party to create the spirit of a white Christmas:
- Accentuate the tree and bring the room to life with plenty of snowflakes and white lights.
- Draw snowflakes on mirrors around the venue with washable white paint markers.
- Use white branches inside centerpieces or as accessories around the room.
- Bring sparkle to tables with mini frosted Christmas trees.
- Create a space for some polar pals.
2. Reverse Christmas in July
Not into snow? Warm things up with a reverse Christmas in July theme. Encourage guests to wear their best and brightest Hawaiian shirts and some shades to set the mood. Bring a tropical twist to your holiday party with these simple decor tricks:
- Hang flowers on a Christmas tree for a summery touch.
- Set beach chairs in front of the tree for a convenient guest photo op.
- Set up a sandbox in a section of the room and bury shells and sweets, like wrapped candy canes to create a treasure hunt for guests.
- Add greenery to summery centerpieces for a seasonal spin.
3. Ugly Christmas Sweater Party
Take a break from dressing to the nines and get into something a little more comfortable, festive and a lot more ugly by throwing an ugly Christmas sweater-themed party. To encourage guests to come in their ugliest attire, hold a contest with prizes for different types of ugly holiday sweater. You can also incorporate classic ugly print designs throughout your party. For example, have a station where people can decorate sweater-shaped cookies with various colored frostings and toppings. Other decorating ideas include:
- Decorating centerpiece vases or bottles with mini sweater covers.
- Creating a backdrop with wrapping paper with corny Christmas designs.
- Giving guests mini trophies, homemade ribbon sashes or certificates as prizes for the best ugly sweater.
- Hanging bold colored lights and ornaments from the tree.
4. Christmas Lights Party
Many people’s favorite holiday traditions include driving around to see Christmas lights. A Christmas lights party will be sure to mesmerize your guests and put a twinkle in their eye. Lighting can evoke a sense of nostalgia and create mood, so let there be light at your party to provide a classic, tasteful design element. As a bonus, you could also have “Deck the Halls,” a 2006 Christmas movie where neighbors compete to have the best-lit house, or the iconic scene from “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” (you know the one) playing in the background.
5. Winter Forest Fantasy
From balsam firs to white pines, nothing quite beats the smell of a fresh Christmas tree during the holiday season. Each year, roughly 25-30 million live Christmas trees are sold all over the country. People crave the wintry forest feel of the holidays, so a winter forest fantasy theme could be a great option for your holiday party. Here are some party ideas that will convince your guests they just stepped into winter woods:
- Decorate with either real or faux Christmas trees.
- Use silver or gold glitter pine cone picks as part of the centerpieces.
- Add lots of green, such as garlands and pine branches, for a forest-like feel.
- Add decorative touches with pine cone clusters, twig branches and even some forest friends.
6. ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas Party
The poem “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” has become a traditional holiday read. You can turn the story of the poem into a great, kid-friendly holiday party theme. Ask guests to come dressed in their holiday pajama best. Plan on reading the poem at some point during the party. Since people tend to feel giving and generous during the holidays, hold a book drive and have guests bring a copy of their favorite holiday book to donate.
Use the story of the poem to inspire your decorating choices, too:
- Create a makeshift chimney and hang up some stockings for guests to use a backdrop for photos.
- Hang felt stocking ornaments from the tree.
- Create table centerpieces that feature some sugarplums for guests to eat.
- Decorate the rest of the venue with Santa’s sleigh and reindeer.
Holiday Party Planning Advice: Serving Food and Drink
What’s a party without delicious food and plenty to drink? One of the biggest questions when it comes to food at a party is to cater, or not to cater? Catering is usually the more popular choice, as 74 percent of organizations that host holiday parties use a caterer. Many venues also offer catering services or can offer a list of recommended caterers. Keep guests’ dietary preferences and restrictions in mind when you meet with the caterer and when making the final menu decision.
The party’s start time can help you decide on the menu. If the party starts at 5 or 6 p.m., it’s likely guests will expect dinner. The meal can be a serve-yourself buffet, a seated and served multi-course meal, or food stations with different options set up around the venue for a more interactive experience. If the party doesn’t start until later, you could instead opt for a cocktail party and provide only appetizers. Whatever you decide, keep your guests’ needs and the party’s theme in mind.
Drinks at a party are as important as the food. If you’re going to serve alcohol, decide how you’ll do it. You can offer wine and beer only or decide to have a full bar. Another option is to serve only wine with dinner. You might have a cash bar or an open bar. Review the venue’s policy and local laws concerning alcohol, to make sure you’re following the rules.
Holiday Part Schedule of Events: Entertainment Options
Guests are going to need something to do at the party. When hosting a large Christmas party, here are a few ideas to help make it memorable.
- Christmas Karaoke or Lip Sync Contest. For some, it’s not the holidays until Christmas music is playing 24/7. Whether you love holiday music or loathe it, you can make it a part of a party, with either Christmas karaoke or a lip sync battle. Guests can choose their favorite holiday songs to sing or lip-sync to. You can also provide a list of the season’s most popular tunes.
- Christmas Movie Trivia. Watching certain holiday-themed movies is a tradition in many households. One way to make a party even more fun is to test guests’ holiday film knowledge with some Christmas movie trivia. Guests can form teams or work on their own to answer the trivia questions.
- A Visit from Santa Claus. Kids and adults are eager for a visit from Santa during the holiday season. Schedule a visit from Santa during a party to deliver some holiday magic.
- White Elephant Gift Exchange. During a white elephant exchange, guests bring in funny gag gifts that are so bad, they’re good. The gifts are also usually absurdly wrapped to better disguise what’s inside, then placed in a gift pile. Guests take turns drawing numbers to determine who chooses the first present. After the first person picks, the next can either steal the unwrapped gift or pick a new one. The exchange continues until all the gifts are unwrapped. White elephant exchanges also eliminate any potential stress associated with picking a personalized gift. Guests can bring something they have at home or buy something for under $10.
- Lead a Toy Drive. In place of or in addition to a white elephant exchange, you may also opt to incorporate a toy drive into your party. During the holiday season, many families across the country don’t have the luxury of purchasing gifts for their children. Working with organizations such as Toys for Tots, you can have guests bring a new, unwrapped toy to donate for families who might not otherwise receive any presents. Set up a giant donation box inside the door as guests arrive for easy drop-off.
Hosting a Holiday Party: How to Keep Things Stress-Free
You’ve worked tirelessly up until the big day to make sure everything goes as planned. Once the day of the party arrives, here’s what you can do to keep things on track:
- Stay organized. Organization is crucial to your party’s success. You might want to put together a schedule of events or agenda, designating time chunks for each major part of the party. Allow for some wiggle room, in case things take longer than expected.
- Be prepared for the unexpected. Be ready for anything, including the unexpected, to make sure that the party goes off without a hitch. For example, you could create a party emergency kit that includes first aid supplies, plus essentials such as stain remover or floss. If any problem comes up, you’ll have a solution at the ready. Review plans and policies with the venue’s staff ahead of time so everyone is on the same page.
- Stay relaxed. Remember to breathe before and during the party. You might have spent months planning the event, but now it’s here and it’s important for you to relax and enjoy the results.
- Have a plan for the end. They say all good things must come to an end, and as your party nears closing time you want your guests to know it without feeling like you’re kicking them out. Bring up the lights and turn down the music to let people know the party’s drawing to a close. Remember, your venue may have a specific time you need to be done cleaning up before being subject to a late fee, so start dropping hints sooner than later.
Holiday Tips for Event Planners: After the Event
Once the party is over what should you do? You might have to supervise clean up or even get involved in the process yourself. Here are some things to take care of as the guests head home and in the days afterward:
- Clean up. The caterer or venue might have a team to take care of cleaning up dishes and putting away tables and chairs. If not, you might want to recruit a crew to help you tidy up the space. To help speed up the process, prepare a cleanup checklist in advance. If guests left any belongings behind, designate a clean spot of the room to keep them so they don’t get lost during the clean-up process.
- Get client and guest feedback. Follow up with your client after everything is said and done to get their thoughts on how their holiday party went. Getting feedback is a great way to ensure continual growth and improvement as an event planner. Plus, they may even provide you with a raving review for all of your exceptional work!
- Finalize any outstanding bills. Make sure all bills are paid or are on a schedule to be paid. Some vendors want to be paid immediately after an event.
- Say thanks. After months of hard work, it’s important to acknowledge anyone who had a hand in helping orchestrate the holiday party. Everyone enjoys recognition and a simple “thank you” can mean the world and goes a long way toward showing your appreciation.
Shop Jamali Garden for all You Need for a Festive Holiday Party
Party planning during the holiday season takes a lot of hard work, but having a guide puts you one step closer to the party of your client’s dreams. You just need the decorations, so let us help. For products that inspire great events, shop Jamali Garden. As the industry’s favorite supplier of Christmas decor and supplies, our Christmas selection has everything you could possibly need to make the holiday party you’re planning a classic success. Having a large party and need to buy in bulk? Choose our wholesale options for prices that fit your budget, quantities appropriate for your party size and products that match your vision.