Holiday Party Planning 101

Posted by Dave Elliott , October 06, 2015


Alright alright, we know we're still waving goodbye to summer and we've barely pulled our Halloween costumes out of hibernation let alone our winter coats, but believe it or not friends, it's time to start planning that Holiday Party of yours! Dave Elliott, sales manager for the Drake Hotel, shares his top tips to make your Holiday Party as painless as possible, so you can skate on into the season and not want to "shoot your eye out!"

Holiday Planning

It’s that time of year - the leaves are starting to turn and people are wearing more and more layers (and those layers are getting darker in hue). Cue the ‘I can’t believe it’s already [enter date] – where does the time go?’ comments. It’s almost Thanksgiving, which means it’s almost Hallowe’en, which means it’s almost Holiday Season. That’s right, it’s time to plan your holiday party. Whether it’s a corporate outing, or a family affair, there are some constant ‘musts’ when planning a successful group outing. If you’re new to planning (or have taken a couple swings at it in the past), keep in mind that there’s more to it than just throwing a party. Ask the person who had the gig before you, it’s an intricate dance to make sure that all invitees leave the venue happy and well fed. To throw a holiday celebration where everyone leaves elated is the equivalent of finding a unicorn on your morning commute, but here are some easy peasy ways to up your chances!

Holiday Planning
  1. Pick a venue and pick one early. The larger the group size, the harder it is to find a venue last minute. If you have a social committee to vet it through, start looking at places well before your first ‘congressional hearing’ to ensure that you’re not left out in the cold.

  2. Keep transportation top of mind. Remember that this falls outside of work hours. Ensure that the venue is easy to get to if you’re coming straight from the office, along a public transit route is ideal. Strongly consider cab chits for guests, as it will up your overall attendance rate if guests know they’ve got a company covered ride home.

  3. Find an ‘all night’ venue. The minute you ask guests to move from venue to venue you start to lose people. With a few wobbly pops thrown into the mix people get distracted and their journey from the dinner venue to the dancing venue looks like an excerpt from Family Circus.

  4. Budget accordingly. There’s nothing worse than providing too little food or drink. While we understand that you want to pop bottles like @champagnepapi if it means that guests are going to go hungry, it might be worth revisiting if the custom ice sculptures are necessary this time around.

  5. Be clear on what is being offered. If its dinner, that’s great, but if it’s heavy apps, just be honest. If it’s a cash bar, let people know upfront so they can hit up the ATM of their choosing. Nothing puts a sour taste in guest’s mouths than misinformation + unmet expectations.

  6. Steer clear of the weekend. It’s supposed to be a ‘party’ we get that, but remember it’s still a work function. You’ll see your highest number of ‘yeses’ if you opt for a weekday night. If the party is a luau in Hawaii you can book it whenever. Seriously, anytime.

  7. To theme or not to theme? This can make or break a party. While the perfectly agreed upon theme can take your party next level, it’s important to keep in mind that some guests may be deterred by having one. If your holiday party ends up costing people money, you might find people opting out instead of getting excited.

To some of you these may seem blatantly obvious, to others, less so. Also, this list is not meant to deter you from doing an over the top theme, or bar you from a weekend booking, just to help you hedge your bets in ensuring a good time is had by all.

At the end of a day people like a party, so make sure yours translate as such. If you keep it simple then you’re guaranteeing yourself the night off to enjoy as a guest. If you decide to go next level just keep in mind that you’ll be walking around with a clipboard and an ear piece to ensure that everything goes according to plan. If you plan the night around good food, and plentiful drink, it should be all hugs and high fives around the water cooler for you on Monday!

Posted in: Special Events