With summer well and truly over now is the time to look forward to the next round of celebrations and the next biggie is Christmas! It is too early to use the ‘C’ word?? Perhaps, but it is never too early to start planning for a party! Christmas parties are all about glitz and fizz. Here is my advice on where to begin if you are thinking of planning a Christmas party at home.
1. The Budget.
First things first, what do you want to spend? It is always hard to set a budget but it is so important as it will keep you focused and avoid any last minute panics and overspending. The benefit of hosting at home is that you won’t have any venue fees to pay for and corkage costs will be zero unless you wish to bring in a pay bar. As a general rule the largest cost will be your food and drink, followed by entertainment then decor.
So, what style of food and drink do you want to serve? A party is a great excuse to get creative with this element and really showcase some unusual and fun ideas. Are you thinking of having cocktails and canapes or a three-course sit down meal? Alternatively, something more casual with real ales, hog roasts, dessert tables and food vans? Do you want to theme your food or create a menu that is bespoke to you? Do you want to supply all the drinks or offer a pay bar? If you are looking for pay bar then you will need to apply for a Temporary Events Notice or TENS, if you are using a bar company then they will help you with this paperwork. Make sure you are doing thorough research into your catering team, especially if you are hosting at home then you will need to trust whoever you are letting into your house. Whatever you decide don’t forget to consider power and water requirements and where the staff will be serving from and preparing the food within your property and speak to your catering team about their requirements so you can include this into your plans.
This is all the boring things that need to be thought about and the eventualities you will need to plan for if you are hosting at home. These will obviously depend greatly on the number of guests you are expecting and the time of day you are hosting your party. For a Christmas party expect cold, wet and dark weather. So, most people will be travelling by car or taxi so think about how they will arrive – will you need to signpost your house and if it is dark consider how you will clearly light this sign. What is the access like to your house? If you are expecting lots of cars is the driveway easily navigable and well lit? You don’t want cars to be churning up your lawn so do you need to put down some sort of temporary roadway or floodlights? What about space for cars to turn around in or to park? Also consider toilets – do you have enough in your house, are you happy for your guests to use them or do you need to think about hiring some portable toilets? If so think about where these would be positioned, how they would be heated, lit and signposted. What about somewhere for guests to hang their coats? Maybe you need to dedicate an entrance room to coats and bags or hire some coat racks? What about general power usage? Are your electrics a little temperamental? In which case you may want to consider having a back up option such as a generator. Also consider the way each room in your house will be used, for example having the bar/drinks area in a room with a cream carpet is perhaps not a wise move. Do you need to clear any furniture away to make a bigger open space? How do you want guests to flow between rooms, maybe design the route and orchestrate how you want this to happen. This can easily be done with signage, lighting, the position of food or decor and furniture placement.
You need to make sure that you actually enjoy your guests and your party so make sure you have plenty of time to get ready and prepare for your party so you are not rushing around at the last minute. To help with this have a team of helpers who can help you clean your house and prepare for your guests. Having a team to ensure everything is running smoothly in the background while you are enjoying yourself will mean you are able to relax and make the most of your celebration. I would also recommend that even if you are providing all the drink yourself you still hire some help to make sure that drinks are served sensibly, empties are kept tidy and glasses are collected.
You can’t have a Christmas party without a fully decorated Christmas tree and twinkly Christmas lights. Outside of this I think it really depends on how elaborate you want to be and how much budget you have to spend in this area. If you have a beautiful home then you may want to keep it to a minimum. Using Pinterest is a great tool for getting inspiration, whatever your budget. Create one or two key focal, showstopping decorations, whether this is your Christmas tree, an ice sculpture or a fabulously designed bar area for example.
Last but not least is the entertainment your guests will experience. For a Christmas bash it should be fun and frivolous, mainly based inside so discount your croquet and garden games! If you do feel like risking the weather than fireworks are great for an evening party. Think about seasonal ideas, so you could have some fun Christmas puzzles, a secret Santa, or Christmas themed games. Maybe a close up magician would be appreciated by your guests or a quirky Photo Booth? Music is also key to a fabulous Christmas party, whether you are looking for some cheesy disco music, a party band or karaoke, there are so many choices. Think about what your guests would appreciate as you want to ensure they have a brilliant time, so anything that wouldn’t be found fun by your guests should be avoided. Whatever you pick again work with this supplier to ensure they have the right power sockets, space, lighting, equipment etc they need to deliver the service you are paying for.