The first thing to consider is which date you want. Friday and Saturday evenings in late November and early December are always the most popular and consequently the most expensive. If you can be flexible with the day of the week you hold your party, you will have much more choice and the rates will be more attractive.
How many guests are you expecting to attend? For a holiday party you can expect to have a high proportion of those invited saying "yes," but for any event there will be a certain percentage who will drop out at the last minute. Most venues will charge minimum numbers. The key is to negotiate this as low as possible to avoid additional costs incurred by those dropping out in the few days leading up to the party.
Be sure to set a budget. There is nothing more embarrassing than an unexpectedly large bill at the end of the evening. Calculate how much you have to spend per guest; will this need to include beverages, room hire and dinner? Do you have enough in your budget to offer accommodations to those who have farther to travel? It's a good idea to decide early on company policy regarding beverages; will the company be paying for a certain amount of alcohol or will guests be paying for their own?
Be careful when choosing your location. You want to encourage your guests to attend, so consider how long it might take them to get there and how they will get there. You might need to think about making accommodations available for those who have to travel some distance.
Hotel or venue? A venue with accommodation or not? A hotel is more convenient if you are expecting guests to stay the night, but if you are able to consider a non-residential venue it will considerably increase the possibilities. Always, always have a site inspection of your shortlisted venues; things can look very different on the internet and you don't want any nasty surprises on the day of your event.
Packages for dinner are always the most economical. At Christmas most venues will be offering packages for dinner that will also include a pre-dinner drink and coffee or tea after the meal. If you are entertaining a younger crowd who is likely to carry on the evening until the early hours, you could offer a midnight feast with some fun light snacks or street food.
It's not all about eating and drinking. The evening does not need to end at coffee. Most guests will be delighted to have a D.J. and some dancing after dinner. Gaps between courses also offer a chance to entertain your guests with a quiz, a fun awards ceremony or a table magician.
And don't forget it's your party too, so get out there and have some fun!
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