How to Plan a Last-Minute Christmas Party
Organizing Christmas parties can be thoroughly enjoyable for both the planner and the clients. The holidays are fun, festive, and fancy. They’re a great opportunity to get creative with décor, have fun with unique catering ideas, and practice building an atmosphere.
At the same time, we all know the holidays are hectic. You might not always have as much time as you’d like to coordinate all the details of a Christmas party.
Picture this: You’re approached by a loyal client who is very stressed. The week before Christmas, her boss called a meeting to announce that profits for the year were record-breaking and that each employee got a bonus. He also told your client that he set aside a small budget for a celebratory Christmas party and that he’d like her to organize it. She came to you right away for help. You have four days to organize a great holiday party for the whole office and their families.
Don’t panic! There are plenty of party planning tactics that will be quick and easy for you but still impressive to your client and her coworkers. These tips will help you plan a last-minute Christmas party!
1. Stay calm
Don’t let the small window you have for planning stress you out too much. The more collected you can stay, the better you’ll handle the pressure of coordinating an entire office party in just four days. If you let yourself worry too much, you might not be as organized and your planning process will suffer.
2. Gather information
Get all of the important details from your client so you can move forward with planning as soon as possible. Make sure to ask her:
- How many people are attending
- Whether her coworkers’ children are welcome
- Whether they already have a location in mind for the party or if you have to come up with a venue as well
- What time of day they’re hoping to host the party
- The size of your budget
3. Make a plan
Staying organized is essential when you only have a short time to work with. Creating lists will help you coordinate details, set goals, and make the most of the time you do have. As soon as you’ve got all the information you need, make a to-do list of everything you have to do before the event. This will lower your chances of forgetting something. Next, create a timeline to budget your time and outline when you should have each task finished by. Tick things off as you go!
When you need to get things done quickly, your instinct might be to try and do everything yourself. This isn’t always the fastest method. If you have people to work with (ex. your client, your assistant, or maybe even an office party planning committee), use their help to your advantage. Delegate tasks to people who are prepared to handle them. Try not to overwhelm anyone and delay your process further.
Don’t be shy about delegating some of the work to your clients, either! Most clients who ask for a last-minute event will be reasonable and happy to help if there’s too much to do. If your client is open to this, you can ask her to help you out with some of the finer details.
5. Choose a theme
Christmas themed parties don’t always have to be cheesy! Picking a theme can be as simple as settling on a color scheme or style. You might decide to stick with the classic red and green idea, or throw some gold sparkle into the décor to liven things up.
Settling on a theme builds the party’s atmosphere, but it also gives you a clear plan to follow. You’ll know exactly which colors you need and whether certain décor or food elements will match the style you’re going for.
Pro tip: If it’s really last-minute and you’re going through a vendor for event décor services, work with that vendor to establish a theme. Your theme will probably revolve around whatever the vendor still has available!
6. Keep it easy
DIY skills are versatile tools. They can make your life much easier or give you unnecessary hassle, depending on the event. If you already have crafting supplies and the weather is bad, creating your own simple décor might be a better idea than driving to the store for tinsel in a blizzard.
If, however, making your own décor will be more time consuming than it’s worth, consider you in-store options. Perhaps you saw something cute in a decorative store earlier in the week that could serve as a centre piece?
Choose whichever option gives you the most style but frustrates you the least.
7. Strategize food
Choose your food options according to where the event will be and what time of day it’s at. If your client needs a full dinner for each guest, find a good quality but affordable catering option and order food that will remind guests of their favorite home cooked holiday meal.
If the party is simply an afternoon get together, consider making it all about the treats. Lay out classic Christmas cookies and other baked goodies and set up a hot cocoa bar with different toppings.
Potlucks can be tempting when you’re pressed for time because they split responsibility between lots of people. On such short notice, however, your client’s guests might not be pleased about being asked to cook more holiday food than they already have to at home.
Whether kids are welcome or not, a little holiday activity can give a last minute party some charm.
Choose something simple, like a holiday gift swap. Instead of making your guests shop for each other, consider using what’s left of your budget to turn fun party favors into a game. Buy cute gifts (bonus points if they have a novelty Christmas theme!) and wrap them. Put all the guest’s names in a hat and let each person choose a gift when theirs is drawn. Guests can choose a new gift from the table or steal one from another guest who’s already opened theirs. When everyone has a gift, unwrap them and see who got what!
Keep your cheer!
Planning last minute events can be stressful, but try to remember what the holidays are about! Concentrate on making your event cheerful, keeping yourself organized, and using help where it’s offered. Some of the best events are created under pressure because you’ll be paying extra attention!