If you haven’t hosted a Christmas party, know one thing – it’s ridiculously challenging. A Christmas party is a great opportunity for you to close out the year with some of your favorite people. Planning the party and getting guests to attend is the hard part, however.
Typically, Christmas parties kick off right after Thanksgiving and can stretch a little past New Year’s Day. With a matter of weeks to work with, a host competes with Christmas travel, other friends who are hosting their own party, employers who want to “boost holiday morale”, and those who could care less about attending anything Christmas-esque.
So what can you do to set yourself up to host a party that people will actually want to attend? Here are a few techniques you should study and consider if you are seeking to host your own party this year.
Create a Can’t Say No Invitation
The Problem: With so many invitations going out to your potential guests, you want yours to stick out. Unless you have hosted a previous party you lack a powerful preceding reputation. Most invites are bland and boring to begin with and nothing else to entice a guest
The Solution: The best way to change that is by using descriptors that will entice your guests to attend. Plan your party on a non-compete day like a Wednesday or Thursday. The closer to the weekend the more you increase your competition with other hosts. Also list a few things guests can expect at the party like an open bar or if a favorite local DJ will be there. Don’t be afraid to get social with your party and create your own event hashtag to generate buzz.
Make Sure Your Presentation is Flawless
The Problem: For inexperienced hosts this is much easier said than done, but make the effort to ensure it’s done. Have you ever attended a party and the food was cold, the crew was still setting up, and it started late? These are detractors to having a flawless presentation and anyone desiring to come back to next year’s party probably won’t.
The Solution: Your job as host is to prepare your space in advance for guests. That means having everything ready before the start time so make a list and check it twice. When your guests step into your space they should feel excited to have chosen your party over anyone else.
Meet Everyone Attending Your Event
The Solution: Only dedicate 2-3 minute chats for each person or group and be sure to use “Power” Body Language moves. Paul C. Brunson gives a good explanation of what the Belly Button Rule is. This really helps you identify when to end your conversation and move onto the next guest. Don’t get caught having lengthy conversations until you know you’ve greeted all of your guests.
Don’t Forget Your Party Fillers
The Solution: Host an ugly sweater contest or create your own photo station with a mistletoe. I love setting up different interactive food stations like this chocolate “Smash It” station where guests use mallets to smash chocolate into snack-size pieces.
This is also a perfect time to ask guests to donate toys, canned goods and even coats. Everyone loves being a part of a giving effort. Anything that gets guests interacting with each other will make your party memorable.
Avoid Turning Your Fun into a Crime Scene
The Problem: We all love having a good time, but when that turns into a healthy list of drunk embarrassing moments like these stories from Fast Company, your chances of a great event is over. Certainly everyone should be responsible adults, but as the host you must ensure that happens. The last thing you want is a sexual harassment case or DUI deriving from your party.
The Solution: Your job beforehand is to set the tone for your event and that means giving your guests and service teams clear guidance on what is and is not allowed. For large events don’t be afraid to have security on site. Also, use your resources for those guests that have drunk too much. Uber for one has started an event ride service which is about 40% cheaper than a taxi or shuttle service.
Be a Good Giver
The Problem: There’s no better way to end your party than to give your guests a small gift of appreciation. Yes I’m sure many of you are saying after all the preparation and money spent to wow them, why am I now giving them a gift. Isn’t my hard efforts enough?
The Solution: Let’s say I planned the perfect party and at the end gave you some chocolate from the “Smash It” station you so loved. A few days after the party you remember my gift and that ushers in all the memories from the party you had. Wouldn’t you agree that a gift is worth it? The best solution is to buy your gifts in bulk. If it’s chocolate from the “Smash It” station, just buy extra and do your own smashing to alleviate all the stress you went through to plan the party. When done turn your stress reliever into the perfect gift. Or you can use a site like Postable to write all of your thank you cards for you.
My last advice is…HAVE FUN! Certainly any Christmas party is bound to have its mishap(s), but as the host you must enjoy every moment of your hard work. Enjoy a cocktail or two and laugh as you catch up with old friends. Keep a watchful eye on the party as you work the crowd. My tip for going in and out of conversations is to excuse myself to check on things and let my guests know I’ll get back to them. This allows me to make sure the party is okay while moving from one group of people to the other.
If you need more help on planning your party, feel free to reach me at Andrew Roby Events.
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* Photos courtesy of HGTV, Uber, Erika DuFour Photography, and My Simple Crafts