Amy Darracott of Plain Jane Events has a job that many people are envious of, planning some of the coolest parties and corporate parties going on at any time in London. Her day to day can involve anything from hiring drag queens to organising pop-up bars for Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants, but one of the parts of the job she enjoys most is organising Christmas parties. I sat down with her and got the inside scoop on how best to plan a Christmas party that’ll blow your employees away.
Curran: So Amy, when do companies need to start planning their Christmas parties?
Amy: We don’t often see bookings until about August when people come back from summer holidays, but ideally you’d book as early as January to make sure you can secure a good date for your party. If you leave it too late there will be no venues with Thursday or Friday slots available, they disappear fast. Also, don’t forget to communicate with the invitees! You want to make sure everyone saves the date because Christmas is such a busy time of the year.
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Curran: What are the things people always forget to arrange?
Amy: Staff and entertainment are key, they’re the things that people always forget to organise and if you don’t nail them then your party can just end up being another boozy night out. Get your thinking cap on and make the entertainment something special.
I actually don’t think that great Christmas party entertainment has to be Christmas themed. I worked on an awesome party which was Night Circus themed. It was quirky and in your face, but there were no Santa’s in sight! Really you just want to do something that’s a lot of fun.
Curran: Does a meal out to a restaurant cut it these days?
Amy: I think it can certainly make the cut - there are restaurants coming up with some really innovative Christmas menus in London and you have to cater for all budgets. Not everyone has £300 per head, lots of restaurants do great deals, especially if you book early, but if you have the budget, why not do something wild. You can go to a restaurant any day of the week after all!
Curran: What type of venue works best?
Amy: If you’re able to, go for a blank canvas venue that has space for lots of embellishment. You want to make the venue into a total dreamland, so that people forget where they are and are totally in the moment. That’s much harder to do with a space that has a lot of it’s own character already, although if the vibe of the place fits your theme it could work well.
If you have a smaller budget, you can still make people feel like they’re in another world, some venues have a couple of pre-defined possible layouts and lots of kit around to totally make the place over, so checking about that first can save a lot of money and effort.
Curran: How much do companies need to spend per head?
Amy: To make it a special evening, £100 per head is a really realistic budget, especially if the venue has some infrastructure itself. If you want to go to town and make it a night to remember, you’ll be looking in the region of £200-220 per head.
If you're looking to plan a Christmas party, find out more here and we'll find you some jaw-dropping options.