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.
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 their holiday packages.
Step 3: Determine the type of party
Will this be an after-hours party or an at-work celebration? Formal or casual? 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 the pros like the expert meet planners at Visit Alexandria who can help you plan any type of party.
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 Nightly Spirits’ Holiday Tour (which even offers a discount for your holiday celebration). You’ll combine the benefit of a fun group activity with the holiday wonder of Old Town Alexandria. Under a canopy of twinkling lights, a stroll on King Street is like being in a real-life Dickens Village. And voila! Your decorating is done. If you want something more traditional, consider restaurant venues. In Alexandria there are many that accommodate group holiday parties. Check them out here.
Tip: No matter what you choose, make sure it’s inclusive to everyone and always invite plus-ones.
Step 5: Provide transportation or take the elevator home!
It’s always a good idea to provide transportation and limit driving. 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.
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 Bastille, with its contemporary spin on French cuisine, Vola’s Dockside Grill on the waterfront, historic Columbia Firehouse or iconic Majestic . All of these restaurants offer special group discounts for the holidays. Many restaurants like Union Street Public House which offers a special “Stories with Santa” series, goes all out during the holidays. 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 Portner Brewhouse makes the beverages part of the overall experience, especially when a tour is involved.
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 little holiday teambuilding at Shadowland or Go Ape. How about a cruise with Potomac Riverboat Company where the entertainment is the view? Or, perhaps a Wine & Design event with a holiday theme?
Image credit: M. Enriquez for Visit Alexandria
Step 9: Think about the extras
Don’t forget to book the extras like a photographer, raffle, space for speeches and holiday goody bags. The Old Town Shop and Alexandria Visitor Center have uniquely Alexandria gifts. Or, consider classic chocolates with iconic local designs from Blüprint Chocolatiers.
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 an after holiday event to get a deep discount. Learn more by contacting us.
Header image by M Enriquez for Visit Alexandria