Planning corporate holiday events can be particularly stressful. Here are a few tips for making holiday celebrations more enjoyable for planners, stakeholders and guests.
Celebrate in January.
Save money. Forget competing with other holiday celebrations. Give everyone the gift of one less holiday event to try to attend and instead have your celebration in January. It’s a great way to kick off the new year. January celebrations are often much better attended because there are less competing events. It also gives people something to look forward to after the busy and often stressful December holiday social season. Plus, January tends to be a slow month event-wise and you can often save money and secure space at a really cool venue that would normally be completely booked in December.
Don’t mix business with pleasure.
It may seem like a good idea to combine your internal and external holiday parties. However, while your client holiday party can be fun, it is still a business development activity and your employees should be working. They should be “on,” mixing and mingling with clients and making introductions. Considering how much is invested in client holiday celebrations, it is important that the party is treated as a serious client development event. Your internal holiday celebration should be pure fun for your staff. They should be free to connect with each other and not be worried about clients and other work-related things. The ideal internal holiday celebration is a purely social feelgood fun event.
Keep it light.
While your client holiday celebration is part of your business development efforts, it is not the time for a substantive seminar or program. Holiday celebrations should be mostly, if not entirely social. The most substantive part of the event should be a simple and short welcome within an hour of the start time. While a client holiday celebration is still a bonafide client development activity, keep the “work” part of the event light, focusing on engaging clients and guests socially. Heavy-duty client development shop talk can be saved for personal post-event follow up.
Everyone enjoys a party, but people really love and will remember a festive experience that stands out from the rest. There are a number of ways to make your celebration unique. For example, you could choose a unique venue like an art gallery, winery or theater. Try including a cultural performance for entertainment. A performance by a cultural organization or the band from a local school would be memorable additions to a holiday celebration. There is also the added benefit of supporting the community and local arts organizations. A cookie decoration station or ornament-making station are also fun experiential components that can help make your holiday event extraordinary.
Instead of having one big celebration, host a series of smaller events. Think about your clients and possible helpful connections and curate deliberate and strategic guest lists for a series of festive intimate events. There are many benefits to this approach, your guests will feel special to be invited to such an exclusive event. You can focus on spending quality time with your guests and it allows the very wonderful opportunity to help your clients develop relationships that can help them in their businesses. Additionally, this is an excellent way to foster relationships with business and community leaders. Everyone loves being invited to exclusive special events.
For all of your holiday planning and attending, check out our Networking Cheat Sheet for useful tips to network and mingle like a pro.