The idea to throw a party is great, the reality however, can seem rather daunting. You want everyone to have a great time and to be talking about the event both in the build up and long after the tables have been cleared. Before you do so, there are a multitude of things to think of, from the venue to the theme and the old saying “Fail to plan = plan to fail” comes into place. Because of this we have put together our top party planning tips to ensure your day goes perfectly from start to finish and is as stress free as can be…
There is no such thing as planning too early and when it comes to party planning tips, this is one of the most important. Once you have decided on a date, don’t sit back and relax and think you’ll organise a bit nearer the time. Instead start gathering your ideas and aspirations for the party and get cracking on anything you can right away. One of the first things you will need to decide on will be the theme, so make that a priority, then decide what else you will need for this. You will also need to get the guestlist together pretty early to make sure people can attend – particularly the nearer the party is to Christmas – think of how busy people’s diaries are likely to be and get in there before they say yes to other social invitations! This will also apply to people such as chefs, caterers and entertainment who can get booked up months in advance. Try to get in there first for a smoother and more stress free event.
When you get stuck into party planning, it can be easy to get so engrossed with all the extra bits and pieces that costs can quickly add up without you even realising. It’s important before you even start planning your party that you decide on a realistic budget that you can afford, then make sure that you stick to it. This may mean you have to work a little harder to get what you want with your budget, but will make it easier in the long run. For example, be sure to shop around and compare pricing before rushing into a purchase. Take a look online and use comparison sites to see if you can find the same, or a similar item elsewhere. When looking at things such as decorations, why not try and make these yourself with friends or family members? Or keep the décor theme with accessories such as fairy lights that can create a simple yet magical effect and don’t break the bank.
When it comes to planning your party, if you are stuck for time, or just feeling a bit lost with the scale of your project, think about hiring a party planner. These can be great for a whole host of reasons. A party planner can help to reduce your stress and ensure all your details will be covered. Their skills, experience and contacts mean they will already be in good stead to negotiate with others in the industry, as well as saving you a lot of time. Party planners are also good to keep your budget under control and to ensure you spend money and save money where is necessary. They know what is worth splurging out on, and what is worth saving on, as well as what will make the party a success and what might not so.
See also: Top Christmas parties in London
While this might seem an obvious one on our list of party planning tips, creating a good checklist is not something to be underestimated. Create a checklist of every little detail so you don’t forget anything, alongside dates that you want things to be done by. By creating it in order you will ensure nothing is missed and everything is fine-tuned with more than enough time for the big event.
While you may think it’s your party so you need to organise it all, it can be a mammoth task and you shouldn’t be afraid to enlist in the help of others. People are often all too happy to help out and offer their skills and ideas. By organising it on your own you can create a mammoth workload which will end up being stressful and all the necessary tasks potentially not being done in time. By getting others to help out, not only are there less tasks to do, but it can make it more fun and you can also end up with a better result as they may come up with new ideas that you might not have thought of.
While it can be tempting to go over the top with your party, sometimes simple is best. In fact, over the top pretentious décor and themes can sometimes mean too much emphasis is placed on the look when actually it should be placed on making sure everyone has a great time. And let’s face it, the main elements needed to have fun at a party are good food, good drinks, a good guest list and great music. These are the core elements you should focus on when planning your party, and while we’re not saying to ditch a theme, don’t spend too long obsessing over this. Food wise, while you may feel you need to cook something elaborate and impressive, more often than not, simple is best. Don’t worry about exotic ingredients and instead think of something everyone will like – often classic dishes such as a chicken wrapped in Parma ham or a pasta dish goes down a treat. Don’t worry about getting in lots of different wines either, stick to one type of white, one red and one sparkling and people can just choose between these.
To help minimise stress on the day and to ensure that everything is running smoothly – as well as avoiding any last-minute panics – try and do as much as you can for the party ahead of time. Book in your DJ or caterer with plenty of time and set expectations up front with each one that there is a drop-dead point for any changes. Be sure, for instance, that you are clear they cannot back out of your event after a certain date, after all, you don’t want your caterer backing out on the day and ending up without any food! Put penalties in place for anyone you’ve booked who cancels to deter them from doing this. It is also best to get set up well in advance on the day. Whether this means setting the table, decorating the space or preparing foods the day before which can be sat overnight in the fridge. Creating a perfect ambiance for a party can take time, so you could start decorating a couple of days before. This also gives enough time for you to see if you need to buy anything else to add to the party and avoids any last-minute dashes to the shop on the day.
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While sending stylish, rustic paper designs may appeal to you, in reality they are costly, require knowing everyone’s address and also plenty of prompting to get people to reply to the RSVP. To get around this, we recommend you send e-vites out instead. There are plenty of online services where you can create your digital invitations, and these can be customised and designed as you like. All you have to do is ping these out to your invitee’s email addresses and they simply click a link to let you know if they can attend or not. Not only is this super simple for people to let you know if they can make it, but it also allows you a much easier system to keep track of everything. Through many of these systems you can also send out event reminders nearer the time and prompts if they haven’t RSVP’d. It’s also much better for the environment when sent out digitally and costs a lot less too. Plus, you’re more likely to have everyone’s email address rather than home address, so will take less time out of your day to get them organised.
Music can either make or break a party. If hiring out a DJ, be sure to talk about what sort of music you want beforehand. After all, there’s nothing worse than them cracking out the cha cha slide at 7pm when only those who have peaked a bit too early take to the floor! Be sure to decide what sort of vibe you want and assess how it will change throughout the evening. If you are starting with a sit own dinner you will want something a bit more mellow, then as the night goes on you will want to get into more dance tracks to get people on the floor, before bringing out the dancing classic towards the end of the evening. (After all, was it even a party if everyone didn’t link arms to sing Mr Brightside as the night draws to a close?!)
The venue is one of the most important aspects of your party and there are many things to consider. Firstly, you need to choose a space that big enough for your party size and any activities you have planned. Secondly you need to consider the location. The venue might be ideal for what you want, but if it’s difficult for people to make their way there or if there aren’t enough ways to get home, it is going to deter people from coming. If it is out of the way, ensure there are places for guests to stay over, either in the venue itself, or nearby. Another factor to think about is parking – does it have a car park? Or are there spaces near enough to park? If not, it’s worth looking into nearby car parks or the cost of Uber’s as they sometimes offer discounts for events. Services wise, you’ll also need to ensure the venue has all the facilities you will need for your party. Check it has a kitchen if this is required, as well as things such as tables, chairs and linens that you can use. Some venues also have a cleaning crew, but if this isn’t the case be sure to hire your own to avoid any fees for a messy venue, or you to be sweeping up into the early hours of the next day!
These are our top party planning tips to help you have a smooth and stress-free party planning experience.
Choosing the perfect Christmas party for your team can be a difficult task, particularly if you are a smaller team. It can be hard to find an event with the same busy, bustling atmosphere and extravagance as a larger party, and can leave your smaller team just heading to your local for a drink and bite to eat as you often do on a Friday. This is why it is a great idea to look into shared Christmas parties – there are a whole host of different benefits to enjoy.
The first great benefit to shared Christmas parties is that you get the chance to experience the buzz and atmosphere of a large Christmas party, while also meeting plenty of other people at the same time. A night out with your colleagues and partners is great, but you can do that any time of the year and as we all know, Christmas Parties are a time to mingle, meet new people and make new friends. It can also open up great new opportunities to network outside of work settings. People are more relaxed and chilled, and it can be a chance to get to know potential new work connections which can come in handy in the new year!
Use our free UK Christmas Party Finder
A second benefit to a shared party is that it can, in fact, save you money. Generally, with small groups you have to pay more per head to cover overall costs – particularly if hiring out a specific venue as this is just a set cost no matter how many of how little guests attend. Shared parties work out cheaper thanks to the large number of people in attendance, and packages often cover things such as food, drink and entertainment so it’s a winner all round! Some packages even include cocktail receptions and drinks or snacks later on in the evening, adding on extra little things that might not be possible for a smaller, individual group party.
A shared Christmas party is also a great chance for businesses to really let their hair down and experience something different. While past Christmas parties at a local restaurant would have been good, we can bet you never got the chance for everyone to experience a fairground-themed evening complete with circus acts, or a masquerade ball with a champagne and canape reception? A shared party means you can have something a bit more extravagant, unique and exciting. There is also a lot more choice for you for the type of party you think would most suit your employees – would a casino-style charity night be the best choice? Or a Great Gatsby styled evening? There are a lot more choices open to you when looking at shared Christmas parties – and all ones that are likely to impress your employees after a hard work year. This is also another benefit, a Christmas party is a great choice to show your employees how grateful you are for all the work they’ve done in the past year, so the better the party, the better the morale will be.
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Another great reason to choose a shared Christmas party is that it removes the stress of planning. Let’s face it, trying to put together a Christmas party is never an easy feat, trying to stick to the budget, organising everything separately and trying to ensure all runs smoothly. If you booked a shared Christmas party the whole package is taken care of and all you need to sort out are the numbers of people going and getting the money from them. The rest is all taken care of, meaning it’s stress-free.
There are so many benefits to shared Christmas parties, the only hard bit is choosing just which one to go for. Luckily, we have a whole host for you to look through, simply take a look at our shared nights running around the UK.
If your mission is to provide your friends and colleagues with an end of year spectacle to reward their hard work over the year then you’re going to need some fresh, festive and fun office Christmas party activity ideas. This year’s party themes and venues are still being announced but combining the early birds that have released their party information already with some of last year’s most extravagant events and activities, here are some office party ideas to inspire all you merry party organisers.
A Christmas party activity with a sinister plot! Join Private Detective Sherlock Holmes and his trusty companion Dr John Watson for an interactive murder mystery themed night. As you dine with your guests over a delectable three-course meal, live actors unveil the drama that’s unfolding around you. The action is fast, furious, and fun as you unravel the mystery and compete to win a prize for the best detective. In the words of Dr Watson, ‘The game is afoot!’.
For some organisers, there’s a lot of pressure to plan an Office Christmas party activity idea that will be remembered as one of the greatest social outings in the company’s history. Our advice to achieve this – be daring, go bold, and choose an idea that definitely hasn’t been thought of before. With that in mind, the Medieval Banquet screams innovative! Join the noble court for a Christmas feast and merrymaking at the historic Ivory Vaults. We highly encourage hiring your own middle-ages costume to blend in and interact with the medieval actors and entertainers!
Experience the wonders of the Natural History Museum in a way you never have before! During December the museum opens up some of its grandest spaces for you to use as your Christmas party backdrop. Dine with the dinosaurs in the museum’s largest entertainment space and gaze upon both the remains of the world’s prehistoric creatures and exquisite romanesque arches. For a more intimate setting book the Earth Halls and surround yourself with remarkable objects that tell of the planet’s history. You can even book yourself a private tour round the Earth Galleries for an extra special pre-dinner and drinks activity.
During the festive season, London’s iconic Somerset House welcomes skaters from across the city to glide across their 900-square-metre ice rink with a magical backdrop. After you’ve displayed your finest Tourvill and Dean skating skills you can dine in one of Somerset House’s grand private rooms with magnificent views of the ice rink and River Thames. Most cities will have an ice rink installed during the winter season so you could incorporate skating, Christmas delicacies and drinks just about anywhere!
Give your company a private viewing of one of Europe’s largest displays of marine life at the Sea Life’s London Aquarium. Before taking your seats for dinner with a spectacular underwater backdrop, you’ll take a walk above sharks and interact with fearless divers who will be swimming with these magnificent creatures. As you dine in the ‘Atlantic Cove’ you’ll be able to watch the majestic creatures of the ocean as you feast on a truly delicious Christmas feast. As far as Office Christmas party activity ideas go, the London Aquarium ticks a lot of boxes; interactive, unique, and memorable.
Dare to feast inside the London Dungeons, one of London’s most loved attractions? Join a cast of live actors as they take you on a tour to meet darkly historical characters such as Jack the Ripper, Mrs Lovett and Sweeney Todd. When you’ve just about stomached as many horrible deeds as you can, it’s time to take a seat in an 18th century themed tavern for some traditional pub grub and cheerful Christmas drinking (just try to forget the gruesome murders)!
For some reason, the office Christmas parties tend to bring out the most competitive spirits in the team. It could be because there’s a generous amount of mould wine and Christmas cocktails served up, or maybe it’s just because the Christmas season is the best time to let your hair down and relax. If you’re in need of a sporty office Christmas party activity idea then you might want to check out the Bat and Ball in London. It’s a lively table tennis bar that offers you the chance to serve up a ping-pong storm with a delicious buffet! Alternatively, you could hire a couple of ping-pong tables for your office, host your own tournament, order in a buffet and selection of drinks and host your very own private work do.
Cocktails at Christmas are a tradition for many, but how would you and your colleagues like to be taught by professional bartenders to muddle and shake your very own delicious winter drinks? This Christmas party activity idea involves demonstrations from the pros, alcohol tasting ( quite a lot of it), a lesson in cocktail history, and a hands on opportunity for your entire team to get behind the bar and try concocting your very own winter beverages!
What if we told you that there are beautiful, timeless steam trains serving warm mould wine and delicious winter delicacies that transport you to and from Christmas markets over an evening? We’re guessing you’re going to say it’s the best office Christmas party activity idea you’ve heard of this year!
Why are Christmas markets so great? Tasty Christmas treats, winter cocktails, decorations, light displays, live entertainment, Xmas gifts and novelties… Pretty much everything that makes Christmas the best time of the year! After the market extravaganza, journey back home in 1950/60’s style carriages and if you haven’t filled yourself with festive food by that time, you can enjoy a sumptuous four course Christmas meal in true style.
This Christmas party idea is a dream come true for Harry Potter fans and fantasy lovers. During December, Warner Bros Studio opens Harry Potter World for a Christmas banquet like you’ve never seen! You start the evening with a private lobby reception for prosecco and canapes where the excitement builds for the main event.
After a short red carpet walk and cinematic video, you’ll be led to the doors of the Great Hall. The doors will swing open and you’ll be awestruck at the magic and beauty of the scenery inside. You’ll recognise authentic film props and tables as you wander through with your fellow wizards and witches. If you don’t think that dining in the magnificent Great Hall for a Christmas feast is quite enough to quench your Potter fandom thirst, why not book a tour of the studio before you eat!
If you still haven’t found the right office Christmas party activity, head over to Christmas Connections where you’re guaranteed to find an idea to suit you and your needs.
Once you’ve decided on the main elements of your Christmas party, it is time to knuckle down on the nitty gritty stuff – and something top of the debate list is whether or not to invite plus ones. After all, Christmas parties are the time when personalities begin to shine, barriers are broken, and hair is let loose. It’s a time for everyone to get to know each other that bit better and celebrate the achievements of the past year, seeing it out with champagne, dance moves and delicious food, surrounded by those you spend most of your working life with. The decision to invite plus ones is one that many debate year on year and there are many valid points both for and against.
Saying yes to bringing plus ones to the work Christmas party can be a great way to really get into the spirit of the festive season and get to know your employees on more of a personal level than just an employee. While meeting the parents is definitely the nerviest, meeting your partner’s boss is another biggie in a relationship and therefore they are likely to be on their best behaviour, wanting to impress! It is also a great chance for other halves to get an insight into the company that their partner works for and the employee will feel grateful you’ve given the opportunity to get their partner involved and see how the business works. After all, they spend more time with their work colleagues than their other half, so for them to see who they are working with every day can make them feel more involved too.
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The festive season is a time when partners want to spend time together and by allowing plus ones, it means it is more likely for the employees to come. The addition of plus ones also makes it much more of a social function, rather than just an extension of your working environment. It can make the atmosphere more relaxed and chilled as everyone will be less likely to be talking about work issues and instead getting to know one another’s partners, mingling and mixing with different crowds. New characters can also make the event more fun, bringing in new party tricks, jokes and insights.
For smaller companies plus ones can be great for increasing the numbers to further better the experience and make it more of a party than a gathering. Check out our UK shared Christmas party nights, perfect for smaller groups.
On the other hand, those that are single don’t always appreciate the idea of plus ones at a party. They already feel shunted out in what many consider the season of “romance” and the thought of having to turn up alone to a party which is filled with couples is enough to put anyone off their eggnog. Some employers consider extending the plus one option to friends instead of just a significant other to a Christmas party. While this can be great in the way it won’t discourage them from not attending due to the thought of a room filled with married couples, it can also have its pitfalls. You would need to carefully consider that some friends can be a bit more unpredictable than other halves, less likely to stay professional and probably a bit more likely to take advantage of the free bar as they don’t have as strong a loyalty as a romantic partner might have. This is definitely not always the case, but something to consider as a possibility!
Looking for a UK Christmas party? Use our free venue finder!
It is also important to consider that bringing plus ones to the work Christmas party can alter the whole feel and vibe of a party. Those who turn up with a plus one can feel a sense of responsibility for them, particularly if they haven’t been introduced to anyone in the workforce before. They can feel a constant need to check their plus one is having a good time and getting on well with other guests feeling too concerned about them having a good time to mingle and really relax themselves. This could affect the overall vibe you would want at your Christmas party, so is a definite point to take into consideration.
Be sure to also consider the added cost of having plus ones attend the Christmas party – you are effectively doubling your costs per head, so this is something to think about. Some choose to pay for their own employee, but have their plus ones contribute for their place to attend.
There are a myriad of points both for and against the inviting of plus ones to the work Christmas party for you to think about before making any final decisions. Why not put it forward to your employees for a vote to see how they feel about it? You could give options such as no plus one’s, plus one’s, plus one’s but they have to contribute a small fee etc. tailoring the options depending on what your main concerns are. Whichever you choose, remember neither is wrong and at the end of the day the party is there to celebrate the achievements and successes of the last year. The final decision is down to you and it’s up to you to outweigh what are the most important factors for you.
One of the most commonly asked questions that we hear as professional event organisers has to be when is the best time to book the work Christmas party? We always recommend booking your tickets as soon as possible and there are a whole bunch on benefits for doing so that you might not even know about.
Looking for a party: View our top shared Christmas parties
Setting a Christmas party date that the majority of your colleagues can attend is often a time consuming and frustrating task. Because we’re realists, we know not everyone is going to be able to make the same date. So, imagine finally settling on a date after weeks of sending out doodle polls and email reminders to find out when everyone is available for the Xmas party, only to be told that your date is completely sold out. That’s a huge amount of time and effort wasted.
So how do you avoid that disappointment? Don’t leave it to the last minute! A lot of Christmas parties tend to be announced around April and May. We know that might seem ridiculously early but when you take into account that some venues have a capacity of 3000+ and thirty Christmas parties taking place between late November and December, you’ll appreciate that a lot of planning and organisation is needed in order to make those events successful and memorable.
Bearing in mind when these parties go on sale to the general public, we recommend you start looking into booking your work Christmas party around the summer. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays tend to be the most popular Xmas party dates and can sell out months in advance, so if you’re planning your work do for one of those prime dates for a large groupmof people then you really need to be booking your party as close to summer as you can.
View: Top London Venues
Another reason why the best time to book your work Christmas party is months in advance is because organising an end of year celebration isn’t always quick and easy. We know from working with thousands of clients over the years that planning a Christmas party is stressful and doesn’t always pan out the way you imagined it.
On top of finishing all of your work on time so that you can enjoy your Xmas holidays without the nagging thought of that report you didn’t quite complete, do you really need dietary requirements, food allergies and drink orders looming over you as well? We thought not. Get all of those nitty-gritty details signed off early so that you don’t have to collect that information in the midst of the December chaos.
So what are the other possible benefits to booking the work Christmas party so early in advance?
By booking early enough, some venues and parties may offer you a small discount or an incentive to secure your booking. You might be offered a few bottles of complimentary bubbly for each of your tables, extra dodgem tokens (should your party include the good ol’ fashioned bumper cars), or even free professional photographs to hang in your office so that your company can remember your party antics for years to come.
An additional bonus of booking your Christmas party sooner rather than later is that you may be seated closer to the stage so that you have front row seats for the extravagant performances set to take place. Alternatively, if you don’t like queueing for your winter cocktails you could also request to be seated next to the bar. By booking last minute, you don’t have these options and we know from experience it’s the little touches that make your Christmas party that extra bit special and memorable.
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What happens if you book your Christmas party and you want to add on extra guests at a later date?
The important thing to remember is that all tickets are subject to availability. Event organisers cannot hold or secure tickets without a deposit or full payment. This means that there is a risk that there might not be any tickets on your party date left over for last minute bookers. If you book your party early, you’ve got a bigger time frame and better chance at there being a few extra tickets available for those friends and colleagues that decide they don’t want to miss out on the Christmas celebrations after all.
For those of you hiring a venue exclusively, you might also be wondering when the best time to book your entertainment is. As with the party it’s best to book as soon as you have your venue and date confirmed. You probably aren’t going to be the only company booking entertainment for that date but you’re definitely going to want to be one of the first.
If we haven’t already emphasised enough in this blog, the best time to book your work Christmas party is without a doubt a few months in advance – aim for around August. It’ll save you a ton of stress, you might get a discount on your booking, a few extra glasses of champagne, potential front row seats for the live performances, and you can enjoy the lead up to the party without the worry of having to organise it last minute.
If you’re in charge of booking your Christmas party this year and you don’t know where to start, get in touch with us, Christmas Connections! We’re a free party finding service and our mission is to relieve you of all of the hassle and stress or arranging your Christmas party.
Running an event can be hard work with lots of remember. But what makes a great event stand out from a mediocre one? Follow these top tips to throw a really great event that will run smoothly and be remembered for all the right reasons…
Top on our list of aspects which make a great event is good planning. In order for an event to run smoothly, you need to plan carefully, ensuring you are organised from the very beginning planning stages, right through to the end. You need to make sure you know exactly what is going on and when so there are no mishaps and make sure your time-keeping skills are up to scratch. Detail each task you must do and write down how long they should take and don’t spend too much time on one thing. With planning, attention to detail is paramount – from details such as ensuring the correct time and date, to numbers for orders and other items. Planning is key!
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One thing which can take an event from potential disaster to a truly great event, is the ability to innovate and adapt to different situations. These can be anything from something slipping up in the planning stages, to something going wrong on the day. With the right skills and quick mindset to adapt to a situation you can quickly turn a potential disaster into something successful.
Connections are such an important aspect of any business and come particularly in handy when planning an event. And we’re not talking Twitter followers or people you’ve engaged with on LinkedIn, for a really great event, you need connections you’ve met in person and forged a working relationship with. A vital component to events and meetings, be sure to make the most your time at other events and conferences by building relationships with fellow professionals and those who might come in handy for your own future events, such as attendees, vendors, exhibitors and planners.
Speakers are often a great draw when it comes to events, so be sure that whether you have multiple speakers or just one, that they are a good support for the event. Be sure to take the time to find someone who is exactly right and on the day be sure they are able to agree to and follow speaker guidelines that you set, such as time limits.
If there is time and budget for this, extra activities can be great to create and cultivate the event experience for attendees. Extra activities can be anything from putting on a food spread, to giving out awards, photo booths or business stalls. This can be a great way to get people more involved and immersed in the event, staying longer and have an overall better experience. Be sure to get this booked in well in advance to ensure there are facilities to cater for this and that your event goes as smoothly as possible.
The venue and location of your event is one of the most important decisions to making sure it runs smoothly. And it’s important to tick both boxes – you could have a perfect location, but if it’s miles away with no parking it’s going to cause a nuisance for guests. Similarly, if you have a great location, but unsuitable venue, it won’t work either. Think carefully about where your attendees will be travelling from and factor that in. You will also need to think of certain facilities and if it has that – whether it be free Wifi, catering facilities, on-site parking, conference rooms, it is vital that these things are ticked off first.
When planning an event it is important that information and communication are clear and precise. You need to ensure that everyone from attendees to sponsors, exhibitors and staff of the venue know timings and what is happening on the day – before the day rolls around. If the event will have extra costs for wifi, a cash-only bar or parking which has to be paid for, be sure people know these details to avoid any nasty surprises on the day of the event.
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Similar to information, be sure that everything is ready and organised for the day so it all runs smoothly. Make sure staff (particularly if they have been hired for the day) know important things about the venue such as where the toilets are, so if guests have questions they get answers quickly and easily. Make sure everyone there on the day knows their role and what they need to do and that you have your timings for the event ready (with room for movement should something overrun slightly.)
Events are great when run smoothly, and with these easy tips to help tell you what makes a great event, you’re sure to provide your guests with a memorable day. Be sure to plan well ahead and know just what your guests will be after on the day, ensuring you provide them with this. Be clear and concise with your information and follow up with your guests after the event to see how they found it and if there is anything they feel could be improved or changed next time. This will ensure they feel valued and cared for and if there were any aspects they weren’t so keen on, you can improve on this in the future.
Hosting a party can seem like a daunting challenge particularly when there are large numbers of guests involved, all with different tastes and interests. This is why it’s important to start your event preparations as early as possible so that you have plenty of time to address any complications that arise.
You need to decide what the nature of your event is going to be and then find a venue that meets your requirements. You need to be thinking about how many people are going to attend and whether the venue you have in mind will hold those guests. Some venues will lend themselves to a unique theme. For example, if hosting in a waterfront destination you might want to consider serving a seafood-themed menu. You also need to pay careful attention to the weather if you’re catering to a party that’s outdoors. Should you be under a marquee and an unexpected spell of wind and rain strikes it’s definitely going to dampen the mood. We have a free venue finding tool that you can use.
When it comes to food catering it might be worth considering a simple buffet option for larger groups as this can be prepared in advance quickly and easily. Or you could look into hiring out a food van with options such as fish and chips or pizza on the go. This not only feeds everyone but also includes the novelty factor too! If you’ve got more time and resources then a set menu with multiple choices for guests is a winning option. Give just a couple of choices to avoid it becoming too complex and be sure to make note of anyone with dietary requirements or allergies. It’s usually advised to offer a meat or fish option and a good vegetarian option as this generally covers most bases. Have you thought about canapes too? Who doesn’t like a nibble on entry? Canapes are relatively easy and cheap to do so it’s worth looking into!
You’ll need to check in advance what sort of catering options the venue is suited for. Smaller venues may have limited cooking facilities and some might have restricted storage spaces or insufficient space for food prep. Whether you are catering a party yourself or hiring a company to do it, it’s important to check this out as soon as possible to avoid unnecessary drawbacks. Be sure to also decide the layout of your venue (if this is something that you can control.) When deciding where to put up the bar area try not to make it too close to the front door as it can create a frustrating bottleneck when people arrive.
Think also about if you would like a champagne and canape reception when deciding how to cater for a party. This can be a nice touch and make people feel that extra bit special on the night, plus the fizz is a great added way to get people in the mood to party! Don’t forget to calculate how many glasses you want to give per person and work out how many bottles you will need. Take into account some will opt for a sneaky extra glass so be sure there is more than enough to go around so nobody misses out.
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Another top tip for how to cater for a party is to never underestimate the power of a list! Write down which guests will be attending and their dietary requirements. Be sure to specify if they can bring a plus one or not because you don’t want uninvited guests who you haven’t planned for showing up on the day. Create a calendar and assign tasks to specific days, and be realistic with yourself when setting deadlines as it will only stress you out if you’re not. When planning for the actual day be sure to allow enough time for food preparation and things such as washing dishes (if you are doing this yourself) and packing the food for transport. These are often activities which if you are doing yourself can be dismissed as a quick chore or even forgotten, but in actual fact they can take up a fair amount of unplanned time.
Be sure to also figure out how much food you will need per person. When preparing a set menu it’s easy to keep count when you’re serving for example, one burger or piece of fish each, but you will also need to calculate the numbers of sides such as potatoes or vegetables. A lot of caterers get around this by assigning set quantities per person. For example, 60g of vegetables and 90g of potatoes. This makes it easier to work out how much to purchase and won’t leave you with half-empty plates being served or sacks of potatoes or vegetables left over at the end and unnecessary expense spent.
If you are hiring help for your party then be sure to check reviews in advance to ensure they are reliable and also to factor this cost in when budgeting for your event. This is one of the most important things to think about when it comes to how to cater for a party, so it’s best to source your outside help sooner rather than later. Equip them with a copy of the menu in advance so they are well aware of what is expected and also be sure to give precise instructions for the day. If you want to set a strict dress code – such as black and smart – be sure to outline this prior to the event, and if you want an aspect of your party conducted in a specific way, such as the food laid out in a particular fashion, make sure these instructions are clear and understood. It’s a good idea to provide your external help with a timeline of the event so they’re well rehearsed and prepared for the event ahead.
If there is one thing to take from this blog on how to cater for a party then it’s to be prepared well in advance. Figure out early the main components such as venue, numbers, food type, canape reception months in advance so the finer details can be fine-tuned nearer the time. Stay organised, keep it simple and remember the main goal is for the guests to have a good time. You’ll be an expert at how to cater for a party in no time.
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