It’s hard to believe that it’s already that time of year again, but the holiday season is just around the corner! Whether you’re planning an intimate gathering or luxurious soiree, it helps to seek the advice of event planning experts. We reached out to Heather Dwight of Calluna Events to get her take on holiday event planning, and she provided some very useful tips for throwing a holiday party that your guests will remember for years to come.
Of course, we couldn’t resist sharing those tips with you here!
Here’s what Heather had to say:
How far in advance should I begin working with an event planning service for my holiday party?
Ideally, as soon as possible! Venues for holiday parties book up quickly, the closer we get to the holidays. Some of our clients reach out in August and some in October, but I’d say October is an ideal time to start planning!
What are some features of a holiday party that would make it memorable and stand out from all of the others (since there are so many events during that time of year)?
Incorporating some entertainment for your staff such as a show, casino night, mixologist, fun festive food or dessert stations.
Is it better to host my party in my home or a local venue?
That depends on a lot of factors, most importantly the size of your staff and size of your home, as well as the sort of party you’d like to throw. Some hosts don’t like the idea of bringing people into their home (and what it means to get their home “party ready”), while others revel in the chance to show off their home and holiday decor during a festive time of year. Ultimately we’d work with the host to ensure their home was the best option, or if a venue or restaurant were an even better choice.
What are some of Boulder’s finest venues for hosting a holiday party?
Frasca, OAK, and Flagstaff House all offer either private dining room or full buyout options for holiday parties. We’ve also worked with the Kitchen Upstairs for partial and full buyout, as well as the Kitchen and the Kitchen Next Door, and Mateo for full buyout options.
Your guest size will determine which of these options – the private dining room or full restaurant – would be the way to go. We’ve also worked with The Rembrandt Yard for clients wanting more of a gallery experience where you can bring in your own catering and vendors. Of course, there are always the private residence options too!
Do you have any tips for creating a cost-effective party menu that would satisfy guests with varying dietary restrictions?
Offering more of a small-plate or fun interactive station menu with a lot of variety is a cost-effective alternative to a full plate meal. Guests can experience different smaller plates and bites, rather than a full meal.
Should alcohol be restricted at a holiday party? What are some of the most common options for ensuring the safety of my guests?
A great new option for guests is to offer Uber discounts to the guests attending a holiday party or for the host to offer taxis for guests to head home. The host could pick up the Uber or taxi tab or provide town cars to take guests home at the end of the night.
What are some creative options for entertainment during my party, aside from the usual DJ?
DJ’s are definitely still a fun option – especially some of the DJ’s we work with that spin vinyl. DJ’s can set the mood of the party and create a festive atmosphere. However, for hosts looking outside the box, we have incorporated a casino night with blackjack and Texas Hold’em, cigar rollers, fun dessert bars, hot toddy stations or fun mixology of festive cocktails. We also have planned wine-inspired tasting menus with guests for holiday parties that can work for small and large groups alike.
What is the most polite way to inform my guests that this is an adult-only event?
Mentioning directly on the invite or evite that guests should plan in advance to secure the services of a babysitter for any kiddos, as the event is “adults only” should be clear. The invite could say: “please let us know if you need assistance finding a sitter, as the evening will be for the adults only”
What can I do during the planning process to make clean up easier on myself once the event is over?
As I mentioned above – hosting your event in a venue or restaurant that offers clean-up is a plus. If you do end up hosting the party at your house, we recommend hiring an event planner to ultimately ensure the decor is setup and cleaned up for you. We will also assist with the coordination of all the vendors such as florists, decor, lightning, catering and bartending services and their clean up, as well.
What other advice do you have to offer that would help me enjoy the party (as an attendee myself), rather than obsessing over the details as its host.
Definitely hire a professional event planner to assist you from the beginning. We are experienced enough to know all of the details to think about and how to navigate the planning process and the day of your event so you are focused on enjoying not only the planning process, but also can relax and focus on being the host or hostess during the party itself. We can offer fun and creative options for outside-of-the-box party ideas, fun decor elements and assist with guest management, valet services and other ideas you might not think about. Leave all the details to us so you can enjoy and be a guest at your own party!
How do you get people to RSVP when it’s not common place to do so anymore?
Great question! Unfortunately, this is becoming more and more common, and we suggest hosts email or call the straggling guests to get a personal “yay” or “nay”!. …or better yet, hire us and have us do it for them!