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Planing a Christmas party: 18 steps to organizing the perfect celebration – Part 2

5. MAKING IT PRETTY: THEME

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The theme is the heartbeat of your event and should be integrated throughout every aspect of the day or night. Choose a theme and research it thoroughly. Some popular ideas include traditional Christmas, vintage, 60s, 70s, 80s, quintessentially English, pantomime, circus, Chicago jazz, winter wonderland, ballroom, colors, film inspired, wild west, spy, Caribbean and Santa’s workshop.  Make a list of anything you would associate with the chosen theme. When doing this consider every stage of the event. This should include physical focal points such as the entrance, the bar, table centers and unique features in the venue, as well as the different stages of the party, for example, arrival, reception drinks, dinner, after-dinner dancing and drinking. You also need to account for any other elements of the festivities that can be included in the theme, such as dress codes for the guests and staff, choice of music, food and drink menus and any outdoor areas.  Contact theme companies for inspiration and quotes.

6. FILL BELLIES: THE FOOD

Food is a key part of any party and can easily be incorporated into the theme you choose. Don’t feel like you have to stick with turkey, especially if you’re planning to eat at a venue with a specialist restaurant. A traditional Christmas dinner done badly in a dim sum restaurant is worse than having no turkey at all. However, if you think turkey is important to your group then choose somewhere appropriate or hire in caterers that are geared up to cook and serve roast dinners and will do a good job.

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Depending on what type of venue you have chosen you will need to decide between using in-house catering (which will work out much cheaper) or hiring in external caterers. This will depend on whether the venue allows external companies to cater for events, the budget available and also the food reputation of the venue – if it’s not broken, don’t try and fix it so if your venue already serves good food then this will be the simplest and most efficient way to tackle the catering.

 Choose how you would like the food to be served. For example, do you want pre-dinner nibbles placed on the tables or canapés taken round by waiting staff? Would you prefer a buffet or a sit down three-course meal with full silver service – and will this be a set menu or will guests need to choose beforehand?

 Consult with chefs and choose a style of food for the event, incorporating the theme where possible.

 Organise a vegetarian option if required and try to accommodate as many other dietary requirements as possible.

 Insist on a menu tasting, especially if you’re booking for a large group. Food can make or break an event so it’s important that you are confident in your choices.

 Confirm the menu.

7. GETTING EVERYONE IN THE PARTY SPIRIT: ORDERING THE DRINKS

Choose arrival drinks. Festive favorites include Winter Pimm’s, mulled wine, sparkling wine and Christmas cocktails, or you could even come up with a drink related to the theme of your night.  Decide on whether you’re going to pre-order drinks or pay for what is consumed on the night. If you are concerned about spiralling costs or making sure that everybody gets their fair share from the bar tab then you could narrow down the choices available or organise drinks vouchers to be given to the guests so that the budget isn’t blown on Jäger bombs within the first hour.  Choose how you want drinks to be served. Again, this will depend on how you choose to manage the allocation of the drinks budget but you will need to decide whether you want waiter service or for guests to order from the bar, or you could perhaps have drinks dotted around the venue or just set up in one place where your colleagues can help themselves.

8. MAKING THE RIGHT NOISE: CHOOSING THE MUSIC

Dancing at the Christmas party is usually a must and it’s the perfect opportunity for everyone to really let their hair down. But it does of course depend on the type of group you are catering for and how you want the night to pan out. But if music is key to your party then make sure it is done properly.

 Hire a DJ, musician or live band or put together a Christmas playlist to make sure you have music playing.

 Organise an independent sound system in other areas of the building being utilised so that music flows throughout the party.

 Coordinate between the venue, DJ and band to ensure you have all the kit required, such as stage, dance floor, sound systems and, lighting. Alternatively you may need to hire in some extra bits of kit, or for a smaller scale event then an iPod hooked up to the in-house PA or a decent stereo system might be all you need – just make sure your speakers are loud enough

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