Did the holiday party planning fall in your lap this year? Or are you just looking for something to make your event sparkle and draw the best attendance ever? Whether you’re a first timer or a party planning pro, these tips will ensure you check every box on the planning list and they’ll help take the bah humbug out of your event and add in a little ho, ho, ho instead.
Plus, find inspiration for throwing your holiday party in Alexandria, VA.
Step 1: Set a date.
It’s crucial for attendance to get the date on the calendar quickly as prime weekend dates go fast. Send a survey out with possible dates, pick one with the majority vote, then send a save-the-date message ASAP.
Step 2: Create a budget.
Determine your budget, rank the elements (entertainment, décor, food and beverage, etc.) and then allocate funds based on each element’s priority. It’s also wise to set aside a little extra for emergencies. Saving money and coming in under budget always makes you look good. Keep an eye out for special deals or discounts you may be able to secure. If you’re holding your party in Alexandria, Virginia, be sure to check out unique venues and restaurant options.
Step 3: Determine the type of party.
Will this be an after-hours party or an at-work celebration? Formal or casual luncheon? Activity or reception? Or, do you want to incorporate a CSR activity that will bring everyone together for a good cause? This is where you should think about bringing in your destination experts at Visit Alexandria who can help you plan any type of event or celebration.
Step 4: Pick the venue.
As you analyze each possible location, you’ll want to think about price, space, proximity to work, what is provided vs. what you need to provide, etc. But when it comes to adding ho, ho, ho, maybe it’s time to think outside the box—or at least the room! For instance, if you are in Alexandria, take your group on a holiday cruise through City Cruises anchored by Hornblower. You’ll combine the benefit of a fun group activity with the holiday wonder of the monuments on the Potomac.
Or consider a popular Alexandria walking tour under a canopy of twinkling lights; a stroll on King Street is like being in a European Christmas village. And voila! Your decorating is done. If you want something more traditional, consider restaurant venues or private venues such as The Garden at Building Momentum or ALX Community Atrium. In Alexandria, there are many that accommodate group holiday parties. Check them out here.
Step 5: Provide transportation or take the elevator home!
It’s always a good idea to provide transportation and limit driving. That is another great reason to have your party in Alexandria, which is conveniently located on the Metrorail system and has a free trolley that runs along King Street. Plus, there are numerous hotels located within walking distance of most of the city that offer special holiday party discounts.
Tip: No matter what you choose, let the Visit Alexandria team help you add a creative twist to your soiree.
Step 6: Select your menu
Should you go potluck or buffet? Passed or sit down? No matter what your choice, it’s easy to book a private party at one of the Alexandria’s restaurants like recently renovated Hank’s Oyster Bar, with its simple and approachable New England comfort food cuisine, Vola’s Dockside Grill on the waterfront offering a variety of private rooms, historic Virtue Feed & Grain or a popular venue such as Augie’s Mussel House. All of these restaurants offer private spaces and holiday menu offerings. These are just a few of your choices.
Step 7: Decide on drinks.
Will you have an open bar or just drink tickets? Beer and wine only or holiday-themed cocktails? A holiday party at a brewery like Port City Brewing Company or cidery like Lost Boy Cider (which also has non-alcoholic cider) makes the beverages part of the overall experience, especially when a tour is involved for an interactive activity.
Step 8: Line up entertainment.
Do you want to have dance music or low-key tunes? A DJ or live entertainment? You could also consider something more active and unique for your group like a Fork & Fizz food walking tour or an immersive experience solving a mystery at the Escape Room. Or, consider a DIY activity at AR Workshop or Made in ALX with a holiday theme.
Step 9: Think about the extras.
Don’t forget to book the extras like a local photographer such as Kelly Loss Photography, a raffle, space for speeches and holiday goody bags. The Old Town Shop and Alexandria Visitor Center have unique Alexandria-themed gifts. Or, consider a holiday mix of spices and tea at The Spice and Tea Exchange of Alexandria .
Step 10: You’re done!
Congratulations! You’ve done the hard work in advance, so now you can relax and enjoy the holidays.
Insider Tip: Book a post-holiday event to get a deep discount. Learn more by contacting us.
Header Image Credit: Misha Enriquez for Visit Alexandria