With the winter season approaching, it is also time for holiday parties, Christmas parties, office potlucks, and end-of-the-year fundraising galas. While the holidays are a great excuse to host special events, the season is often over-saturated with the same themes, decor and agenda. However, it is possible to plan a spectacular holiday event that is not a cliché, and that can tastefully integrate a little holiday spirit into the bigger picture.
When coordinating an event during the holiday months, planners should keep the following things in mind:
1. Look for opportunities for subtle tributes and variation.
When a client is looking to host a holiday party, many often think of Christmas trees, bells and snowmen. Instead, take advantage of the subtler elements of the holidays, such as color scheme, textures, venue location and menu items. There are plenty of opportunities to alter the traditional holiday themes to create something meaningful and unique.
Guests are looking for something new, and clients are looking to you to find that fresh angle. Be creative with the ways that you cultivate the magic and community of the season.
Attendees are not only looking for a fresh way to celebrate another year, but they are also likely seeking the sentimental feeling that emerges during the holiday season. Memories play a key role in how guests interpret their holiday experience, so it is important to capture those traditions while exploring new ideas with a personalized touch. By integrating well-known themes in a subtle fashion, guests are met with a spark of the familiarity they are seeking, as well as a new, re-envisioned holiday experience.
2. Cater to the client and their audience.
Another way to ensure that the holiday theme doesn’t become predictable is to craft the event around your clients and their audience.
If you’re planning a corporate party or conference, research the company that you’re working with. If you’re planning a fundraising gala, familiarize yourself with the organization’s mission and vision. Investing in your client can help guide your holiday integration methods and drive results.
There is always an angle to explore, and there is always a way to personalize the event experience. Utilize different cultures and traditions, and pay tribute to the many ways that holidays are observed. Clients are more likely to return if their event is unique to them.
3. Create a world for guests to enter into.
There are only a few weeks out of the year reserved for celebrating year-end holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year. These are also some of the most coveted weeks for special events. This means that guests are looking to cherish every single gathering that they attend. Create an atmosphere that transports attendees to a new world to keep the magic alive during the holiday season.
This is the time to experiment with an event concept. Turn a Thanksgiving feast into a mile-long community table, or invest your budget into hired actors to create a story-like experience. The enchantment that comes with the holidays is something that every event planner should leverage to his or her advantage.
4. Always remember the “why.”
Every event has a purpose. Whether it is to celebrate with friends and family, raise funds for a good cause or ceremoniously enter a new chapter, clients are investing in a gathering with a goal in mind. Oftentimes, this primary goal is overshadowed by the secondary goal of implementing a holiday theme.
Regardless of the season, the theme should never outweigh the “why” of the event. It is easy to get caught up in the bells and whistles, but it is important to periodically ask yourself, “How does this serve the purpose of the event?” If the “why” drives the “how” and the “what,” the event will be fueled with purpose, and the holiday theme will support that purpose.
With a bit of planning and preparation, holiday events can exceed their reputation and become the most anticipated gatherings of the year. Take advantage of the inherent resources that are found in these special occasions to create an unforgettable experience for years to come.
Billy Hicks is the president and CEO at Event Rentals by Hicks, a full-service event planning and rental provider in Memphis, Tenn., serving the Mid-South for more than 30 years.