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You booked your venue months ago, you have a budget agreed and the date is in the diary – the office Christmas party is looming again and it is your responsibility to make sure it goes well.

Mike Walker is Managing Director of MGN Events and is an expert at planning high end corporate parties and business events.  Here, he offers his top tips for venue, food and entertainment to give your office party the quality edge it needs to make it a success.

The key to a successful Christmas party is to make sure that you have covered the basics well.  Surveys show that most staff think that venue, food and entertainment are top of the list when it comes to a good, well-organised office Christmas party.  Think about the following:

Venue

– Has the venue made an effort to dress the room that you will be using?  If you have booked a venue, ask them what style it will be decorated in? Does it have a theme that fits your vision? Does the style fit the ideas for your event?

– If you are having a sit down meal, is the space adequate for the number of people who will be eating?  Venues often try to cram people into space that is simply too small.   There is nothing worse than being crammed up against each other, knocking elbows every time you try and eat or drink.  Check this in advance with the venue.

– Is there room for people to mingle and talk?  Again, make sure you have adequate space for the number of people who will be attending and that they are able to relax in a comfortable space that does not get too hot or noisy.

Food and drink

– Ensure there is enough food. There is nothing worse than a party where the guests go hungry. If you do have buffet stations ensure there are an adequate mix for the number of guests attending.

– Bowl food and canapes – ensure these get served to everyone equally. All too often hungry guests “work out” where the food is coming from, and hog that area to get more than their fair share of food. Try and ensure the staff are briefed to cover the whole room and start service from the middle of the room.

– If you are providing a buffet style menu, have you checked for allergies and informed the venue?  Make sure that all food that may be a problem is clearly labelled; nuts, vegans, vegetarians, gluten free etc

– Keep queuing to a minimum as slow service is a pain for everyone! If you have pre-paid for an unlimited beer and soft drinks package, why not have buckets of beer available for guests to grab their own dotted around the room – relieving pressure on the bar.

– Ensure that the caterers provide both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.  Believe it or not, people don’t always want to get drunk at the office party and limiting the amount of alcohol on offer as well as providing an interesting range of non-alcoholic options, can work well in keeping a lid on excess – Have you thought of mocktails – non alcoholic cocktails?

Entertainment

– If you are planning to provide entertainment, make sure you allocate a decent budget.  Low budget entertainment tends to fall flat.  DJs, live bands and photobooths are always popular and fun.  A good DJ can make or break a party.

– Try mix and mingle entertainment artists for canape service at the beginning of the party, helping guests to relax and enjoy the start of the party. Think magicians, caricaturists and dancers!

– Don’t insist that people wear fancy dress – it isn’t something that many people feel comfortable with.  Either allow people to dress as they wish or perhaps choose a theme like a colour or a particular era e.g. 1920s.

Post event

–  After it is all over, ask staff to give you feedback on your event.  What went well and what didn’t go so well? Did people like the food, venue and entertainment provided?  What could be done better next year? Armed with this knowledge, you next Christmas party will be even better.

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