Organising the Christmas party: 10 tips for a successful event

Planning your Christmas party

If you are (un)lucky enough to be tasked with organising your office Christmas party, first of all don’t panic. It can be scary, with time constraints – you still have your day job to do after all – and the pressure to organise something amazing that everyone will enjoy!

If it’s going to take a lot of planning, start early.

1. Set the date

Christmas is a busy time for everyone, so select a few potential dates and get people to choose their preferred option. This will also give you a rough idea of likely numbers.

2. Know your budget

Your budget will affect everything from the choice of venue to the food and entertainment, so it’s important to know your limit. There’s no point planning a grand affair if your budget will only stretch to a few drinks and nibbles. Think about whether spouses and partners will be included too as this will impact your overall spend. It’s also a good idea to keep a bit in reserve to cover the unexpected.

3. Choose your party style

Your choice will depend on many factors such as budget, number of guests, location, etc. It will also depend on how much time you have to organise everything, but there are three main options:

  • Dinner & Drinks: the simplest option is to book a table at your favourite restaurant and follow it up with a tour of your favourite pubs/clubs
  • Packaged party: lots of venues now host themed party nights. If your group is large enough it is often possible to book exclusive use; but you can just book a table or two and share the event with others
  • Bespoke party: YOU do all the hard work, from finding a suitable venue to organising catering, decorations, entertainment etc.

4. Choose the venue

Dinner and Drinks

Make sure your favourite restaurant can accommodate your group and find out if they are doing a special Christmas menu. If you love a particular menu but it’s not available in December, you may need to rethink your choice.

Packaged Party

What theme is the packaged party offering? Traditional, vintage, specific decade, fire and ice, movie theme, etc. How many people do you need for exclusive use? Are you happy to share?

Bespoke Party

Is the venue big enough and are they happy for you to decorate it? Do they have in-house caterers or is there a preferred list you’re obliged to use?

Once you’ve decided on a venue and confirmed the date, get to know the events team personally. It will make life much easier later on!

Choose the right menu for your Christmas party

5. The food

If you’ve opted for a packaged party, there will undoubtedly be a set menu to choose from. Send out the menu options to all your guests as soon as possible and ask them to make their selection (give them a deadline or you’ll still be chasing on the day of the party). Make a spreadsheet to record everyone’s orders so you can send a copy to the venue and print a copy for yourself to take on the day. You may also want to do place settings for everyone with their selections on the back - this will save you answering a hundred ‘what did I order again?’ questions on the night!

For bespoke parties, don’t be restricted to turkey (unless you’re going for a traditional theme of course!). Be creative with the catering and make your event truly memorable. Perhaps a Wild West theme with a hog roast or a Caribbean theme with a bbq. In-house caterers will be cheaper and easier if they’re available at your chosen venue, but you may prefer to use an external supplier if you want something a little more left-field.

6. Entertainment

Again, this will all be taken care of on a packaged party, but if you’re organising your own then use your party theme as a guide. There are lots of event companies that can help with ideas, whether you want a casino or magicians, comedians or acrobats. You could even host a ‘murder mystery’ that guests have to solve before dessert! When it comes to the music, consider a live band instead of a DJ - depending on your budget.

7. The invite

Once you’ve settled on a venue and confirmed the date, it’s time to send the official invitations. Include the obvious: date; venue address; start/finish time; menu options (if applicable); and rsvp deadline.

Then include the less obvious: dress code; accommodation options; phone numbers for local taxi firms; and any venue-specific details (e.g. parking arrangements, accessibility etc.).

8. Before the big day

There isn’t much more to do for a packaged party, other than making sure your menu choices have been submitted and you’ve confirmed final numbers for your group.

Bespoke parties need a little more work. The best thing to do is create a full itinerary of the evening including who, what, when and where. This can then be circulated to everyone involved in organising and running the event, from the venue team to any external suppliers and contractors. You will also need to confirm final numbers with your caterers to ensure sufficient food.

9. Party time!

Arrive early. Meet up with the events team and go through all the details one more time. For bespoke events, make sure you’re happy with the room layout and decorations and meet with all suppliers to ensure everyone knows what they’re supposed to be doing and when.

10. Enjoy the party

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the organising that you forget to have a good time yourself. Once you’re happy everything is running as planned, don’t be afraid to sit back and enjoy the party.

For more details on finding the perfect Christmas party venue, please contact Conference Maidstone today. We can even help you find exclusive Christmas special offers to ensure your end-of-year celebrations are great value for money.


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