Ho, ho, how to make sure your oh-so far away corporate Christmas party is a festive success! H&E North asks the experts…
Liz Taylor, founder and MD of Taylor Lynn Corporation discusses the perilous pitfalls to avoid in Christmas party planning…
“Experience tells me that if you haven’t booked your preferred venue by July, you probably won’t be celebrating at your first-choice venue. Most companies see the festive party as an important staff recognition occasion, making it a firm fixture in the company diary. So, for my clients, as soon as the curtain falls on one Christmas event, they look to book the venue for the next.
“If you weren’t quick off the mark, then look for ‘plan B’ venues rather than pin your hopes on just one choice. Sometimes, this is a mixed blessing. Forcing a company to look at alternative venues can be a good experience for them. There is a boom in creative, unusual spaces that can stage events perfectly – it’s always good to get out there are see what is available.’
‘Time is the biggest pitfall. With the summer break taking around six to eight weeks out of the planning diary, by July you need to be underway with the major decisions. Using an event planner helps to alleviate the time pressure – we take the strain for company planners who are tasked with getting decisions made over the summer. Get sign off for everything by mid-July!’
“Like first choice venues, key dates are limited. Good as I am at my job – I can’t move Christmas! There are three Fridays that are the peak dates for Christmas events as they don’t encroach on employee weekends off. A party too early in November or too late in January, doesn’t always have the same impact with teams, so getting the prime dates is crucial.’
“Complacency is a major worry in planning Christmas events. Just because last year’s corporate Christmas party was a success, is no guarantee that a company wants to replicate it. Every year the ideas need to be different. This year, for example, one client has shifted from a large annual event to smaller Christmas celebrations. Not scared away by the reduced budget, we have developed an innovative, fun party that will still deliver on company goals and give staff a night to remember.”
What better way to close off a successful year with your colleagues and peers with a memorable corporate Christmas party celebration? Stewart Elder, Director of Sales at Fairmont St Andrews provides his top tips for making a start on the all-important planning…
- Host a kick-off meeting at the start of the year to gain feedback from the previous year and your team’s likes and dislikes to then allow the venue to tailor to these needs. Planning in advance makes availability and getting creative options available much easier.
- It does not always need to be Christmas themed to mark the occasion, it could be black tie to get dressed up, or why not theme it to one colour that suits your brand and your guests can all wear an item in this colour – great for the team photograph!
- Secure your date well in advance to avoid disappointment of the date that suits your business and take advantage of preferred room rates to make it a full experience for your team. Why not host a team meeting at the awe-inspiring venue to announce that you will be back here to celebrate together at the end of the year?
- Entertainment is key, choose a band that will excite your guests and suit everyone’s tastes to include covers, a certain era or a mix of it all. At Fairmont St Andrews we work with excellent entertainment agencies and bands that have played our venue multiple times so the choices are endless.
- Pick a celebration menu – our creative chefs can work with you to tailor a menu either Christmas themed or alternatively theming to tie in with your evening, decor and even style of music. Why not tie in some colleague awards in between courses to highlight successes and drive engagement with your team, prizes and a quiz on your company to recap the year always go down well also.
Dan Elliott, National Sales Manager at Center Parcs discusses freshening up the office Christmas habits…
“The stock format for Christmas parties has lost its appeal, with not everyone eager to jump on the bandwagon of overindulgence and potential embarrassing moments in front of colleagues! There is so much opportunity now to create a celebratory event that rewards and motivates staff, giving them well-earned time to destress and wind down. Take the time to think about your colleagues’ wishes and their interests, get feedback from previous years and adjust accordingly for a Christmas party that will be firmly in everyone’s diaries.
Rushing from the office to the venue also doesn’t make for the most relaxing of experiences – desk to dancefloor is never as easy as it sounds! Treat your team to a real getaway for the chance to wind down and refresh after a busy year. You could even consider an off-site event that incorporates an end-of-year meeting to justify the added time out of the office, giving everyone a break from the day-to-day surroundings while adding a productive element where necessary.”