Even though temperatures on the US East Coast still linger around 80 degrees F, fall is knocking at our door. There still seems to be plenty of time, but don’t be fooled: having booked the location already earlier in the year, right now is the time preparation for your holiday event should kick into full gear.
We all have a general idea of how we want an employee holiday celebration to be set-up. The format for holiday festivities targeted at corporate clients differs from that image, though. – The key for the latter is a healthy balance between providing desirable content to your audience, and giving them a taste of holiday sentiments.
Here is how I like to tackle the challenge of infusing the spirit of the season with my corporate events:
1. Create a balanced agenda for the evening
Make sure your event is not only about the buffet, and the customary glass of wine. Especially during holiday season, business people are expected to attend more events than their schedule allows for. Plan well, and catapult your event to the top of the list! Feature a 20-minute presentation, followed by a Q&A session, and a holiday reception to wrap up the evening. Many in the corporate world will appreciate this 2-in-1, and elect to attend your function over others.
2. Find an enticing speaker
The key to the balanced agenda is certainly to select a speaker well fit for the occasion. Lessons on balancing budgets, or on marketing products, might not be the right content for your holiday presentation. Rather, choose a different route while still keeping your eye on topics relevant to your target group. Have a motivational speaker address the crowd, or treat your audience to a soft skill training focused on improving competencies vital to your industry. It’s worth investing time and money into the perfect fit – it will result in an added value to your attendees, and in turn to you: Word of mouth will quickly turn successful events into the holiday celebration to attend, also in the years to come.
3. Keep the invitation classy
Depending on the topic for the evening, current clients, contractors, business partners, and future co-operation prospects will be among the attendees at your corporate holiday celebration. Don’t give in to the temptation to go over the top with holiday colors, and images – rather stay true to your CI, and maintain the professional communications you work hard to maintain throughout the year. An option to subtly communicate the holiday spirit of the evening could be, to point out that a holiday reception will follow the presentation. Find some ideas on how to “Make your e-invite stand out from the crowd’s” at this blog.
4. Infuse your culinary selection with holiday specials
After trying to convince you to tone the holiday spirit down so far, now is the time for the holiday season to shine: The buffet is the part of the evening I suggest you go all out on. Dish up favorite holiday foods, and make roasted chestnuts, hot apple cider, mulled wine, and other delicacies part of your signature event! Do challenge your caterers: pick a few countries your organization or guests are affiliated with, and include holiday favorites from all over the world. Add pictures, and a brief explanation of why a certain dish is a must have during holiday celebrations in your countries of choice. Your guests will love the diversity, and an interesting buffet also doubles as great conversation starter! And last but not least, I like to send my guests on their way with a culinary holiday treat – a memorable goodie bag goes a long way!
5. Use holiday decorations thoughtfully
Decorate with the holiday season in mind, but be careful, to not overdo Santa and the elves. I like to give my locations a nice seasonal touch with winter-themed decorations: pine branches, poinsettia flowers, candles, and silver or gold accents on napkins, glassware, and china. No matter which country you are organizing your event in, be aware, and especially considerate of guests’ religious backgrounds. Unless a specific religion, or belief, plays a major role in your event, do consider to veer away from using decorations specifically attributed to celebrations of a certain religion, such as Hanukkah, or Christmas. Be inclusive, rather than exclusive!
6. Offer entertainment that does NOT include holiday carols
Save the caroling for the employee holiday party, and rather elect to go with a mellow music theme for your corporate client holiday celebration. Don’t go with the obvious, and expected. Come December, most of us are tired of hearing the typical American holiday favorites 24/7 on the radio, and in stores. Some instrumental live music, or smooth jazz could be the break your guests are longing for!
Despite the many things to consider, I hope you have fun planning your next corporate holiday event!
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This post was also published at Social Tables