It's already December and you've just received the go ahead to plan a holiday event. Yes it's late, but it's still not too late to create a great holiday event.
To prepare for last-minute events, here are 10 sure-fire steps:
- Get a clear briefing to pinpoint objectives.
Is the purpose of this event just for fun, a marketing initiative for top clients, or an employee appreciation event?
- Be realistic and keep it simple.
The goal should be to ensure that all attendees have a great time. Don't expect to pull together a blockbuster gala in a few weeks.
- Compile your invitation list and get clear about the demographics.
A clear understanding of demographics will make other decisions easier.
- Send out a "Save the Dates" notice and request RSVPs immediately.
Ask guests to hold at least 2 dates. Let guests know that full details are to follow. Position the event as a "surprise event." Be sure to ask for allergies and special meal requests at this point.
- Select a theme.
With a theme, venue, menu, decor, and music selections will fall neatly into place.
- Find a venue.
I've already shared tips for finding holiday event venues at the last minute. It bears repeating. Especially if you are flexible about your dates and you consider weekday evenings, you can still get a great venue.
- Select the Christmas menu.
Venues need time to order ingredients and supplies so pin this down as early as possible. Try Foreign Festive Fare to add variety to holiday event menus.
- Send out the formal invitations and do a final push to attract guests.
As soon as a venue is selected, get creative and keep it fun. To create a buzz for your event, use a combinations of high and low tech including displays, videos, an Internet or Intranet web page, an event app., posters, contests.
- Book the entertainment.
Consider flutists, harpists, or pianists. They who may be available on short notice. Event planners who have been compiling a list of entertainers and DJs will find this task a lot easier. If time has not made this possible, consult with colleagues or check out entertainers that have been featured at local industry events and conferences.
- Prepare to Deck the Halls.
By carefully selecting the venue, event planners can minimize the amount of decorating required for holiday events.
Many venues already have holiday decorations in place, leaving event planners to focus on holiday centerpieces and other table decorations.
The following install took a full 2 days. Notice the layout is simple but it has high impact.
In keeping with number 2, if you want the "wow" factor, outsource decorating and set-up and move this item to number 5 or 6.
Bonus: Schedule some downtime to recover before the holidays.
For more last-minute event planning tips, also read Event Planning: Handling Last Minute Requests, Handling Those Last Minute Requests II, 8 Great Places to Find Holiday Goodies, 12 Days of Christmas (Last-minute Gifts for Event Planners).