30th April 2014

We know it feels freakishly early, but you'll thank us later for setting the (snow)ball rolling on event planning for a corporate Christmas party. With so many people booking events on similar dates, the early bird will be the one to truly catch the tinsel. Here, Laura Richards shares some top event planning tips to make sure your party lights up like a Christmas pudding and runs as smoothly as a festive glass of sherry.

1. Christmas comes early

Get cracking by sending round some provisional dates among key decision-makers within the company. Agree if a weeknight or weekend is best and remember the majority rules! The next step is to come up with a guest list - will your Christmas do be staff members-only, or will partners or clients be invited, too? Is this a big budget event to show off about or is the office outing best kept within closed quarters. Maybe figure out if your boss is likely to break out the David Brent dance moves - that should be a good indicator on which way to take proceedings.

2. Santa's little helpers

Forming a Christmas party committee may be a wise idea. You can share the responsibility of the task ahead and bounce ideas off each other. Pull in members of different departments so everybody feels as if they're represented. And don't be afraid to delegate, just like Santa would with his workshop elves.

3. Do they know it's Christmas?

Make sure you nail down a budget for your event early on, as this will dictate exactly the direction in which you can take things. Ask your boss to set a maximum spend per person and make sure you're both on board with exactly what costs a Christmas party should incur. Food, drink, entertainment, transport - there's a lot to think about...

4. Last Christmas

...That's exactly why it's a good idea to take note of what has and hasn't worked at your company's parties of Christmas past. If you weren't there to enjoy them, find out from someone who was. The good bits will stand out, but you'll be sure attendees can remember what definitely didn't work last time around. Learn from past mistakes, like a wise, festive events guru.

5. Step into Christmas

You'll want to start looking for the right venue nice and early while the more unique ones are still available. The type of event you intend to put on will really help shape your venue options - for example, is it a daytime or nighttime event and will you be drinking and dancing or wining and dining? Hire Space has heaps of unique, impressive and suitably festive venues to peruse through, and better still, we'll talk to the venues' events teams and see if they can accommodate all your needs, as well as helping you organise those all-important site visits.

Button at Grace

6. Christmas dinner

You can firm up on food arrangements once the venue is booked. And since food is often the most talked about feature of any event (or indeed, life - maybe that's just us, though), you'll want to get this part absolutely spot on. Decide on in-house or external catering and get your guests to pre-order items, taking all dietary requirements into account. You don't have to stick with classic Christmas dinner either, but do bear in mind whether or not guests will be disappointed if traditional turkey's a no-show.

And don't forget the alcohol - that would be a cardinal sin! Arrival drinks are always a nice touch, so how about spiced cider or mulled wine instead of fizz, for a seasonal flavour?

7. Rockin' around the Christmas tree

A DJ or live band can make or break a Christmas do, so choose carefully and decide whether you'll want them playing Wham's Last Christmas and the like, or sticking to less of the cheesy Christmas tunes. You may also want entertainment from comedians or performing artists, or DIY fun in the form of karaoke or arcade games perhaps. Remember, it's the little touches that will make the difference, like beautiful Christmas decorations, goody bags at the end of the event or a photo booth for vanity's sake. And speeches and awards often go down a treat (if kept short and sweet).

8. Deck the halls

Often a theme can make all the difference when it comes to taking the stuffiness out of a corporate do. Think a masquerade ball, a retro disco, a Hollywood theme, a black tie event, or the classic compulsory Christmas jumper look. Make sure guests are fully aware of any dress code restrictions far in advance - and dress your venue accordingly, too.

button at Battersea Arts Centre

9. Wish it could be Christmas every day...

... but sadly, all good things must come to an end. So make sure you know if the venue will be helping to clear up afterwards, or if the responsibility falls on your busy little shoulders. And definitely make sure transport information is readily available for party people. You wouldn't want the event to fall at the very last hurdle now, would you? And finally, get post-event feedback from as many of your guests as possible, so that next year's bash is even more of a success story.

10. 'Tis the season to be jolly

Don't forget to enjoy the festivities. If you've done all of the above, you won't need to fret on the big day or run around until you're as red in the face as Rudolph's nose. Perhaps have an itinerary drawn up and circulated to key players in advance - that way the night should flow effortlessly and without a hitch... which is more than can be said for Christmas day with the in-laws.

So those are our top tips for planning a Christmas event to remember... for all the right reasons. As always, if you have any tips of your own, we'd love to hear them. And if you're in need of some unique venue inspiration for the festivities, get in touch with Hire Space - good tidings we bring.