It’s now officially the second half of 2021, and, if you’re anything like us, you’re already counting down the days until the festive season. At the HAC, we’ve hosted hundreds of spectacular seasonal parties, so we know a thing or two about what makes merry-making truly magical. We think Christmas deserves to be celebrated with all the trimmings; selecting a theme is a sure-fire way to set your party apart from the crowd, and has the potential to transform an event into an occasion to be remembered for years to come.
That said, we understand that there’s a lot more to theming an event than picking out shades of red and green for the bunting. With so much to consider -- from venue to budget, licences to location -- it can be difficult to know where to start. To help make the planning process that little bit easier, we’ve put our heads together to create a 6-step guide on how to choose the perfect theme for your Christmas Party.
Know your audience
Before you dive into the details -- those Art Deco whiskey glasses can wait! -- it’s crucial to ask yourself who you’re planning the party for. Are you a large-scale business with guests coming from all over the country (or even further afield)? If so, a more traditional, widely-recognised theme might be your best bet. On the other hand, if you’re a close-knit office of 100, then something more personal could work well: a Christmas Murder Mystery Night, for example.
It also helps to consider your audience in the wider context of the company. Whilst a creative firm might love a night of bob-sledding in fancy dress, the same theme might not chime with a guestlist of high-profile corporate directors. In this situation, opting for a more formal affair might be a better choice.
Location, location, location
You’ve considered the “who”; with this in mind, factoring in where your party is going to be held can help narrow down your options. Your venue might lend itself to certain themes. A historic space’s charm and visual impact, for instance, can provide a stunning backdrop not only for traditional parties, but also for less conventional themes (perhaps a festive masquerade, or a vintage Victorian Noel). Equally, a venue with plenty of outdoor space would be ideal for a “White Christmas” theme, with lights, open fire, and plenty of mulled wine. Just be sure to wrap up warm!
You’ll also want to consider the logistical side of things; it can be helpful to ensure the party venue has at least one main station nearby, especially if you’re planning an evening event. If not, it might be worth looking into coach transportation to and from the location.
Now that you've weighed up your audience and location, you might have a better idea of the kinds of themes that will best suit your guests and/or venue. Whether you’re planning on taking the classic route or organising something more unusual, with this framework in place, you can begin brainstorming specific ideas. Some classic tried-and-tested party themes include: Winter Wonderland, Santa’s Grotto, or perhaps a Gatsby-esque Christmas at the speakeasy. If it’s creative inspiration you’re after, consider gamifying the occasion with a scavenger hunt -- or flip tradition on its head with an around-the-world Christmas party, featuring festive beach gear and sunglasses.
On this note, do check to see whether your venue offers themed party packages. For example, at the HAC, our 2021 Christmas Package will transport guests to a luxurious alpine retreat for an après-ski like no other, complete with vintage ski racks, faux fur throws, and trees aplenty. Catering, A/V, DJ, and a stylised photo booth are also included. Party packages can take the stress out of choosing a theme in the first place, leaving you free to focus on the details.
Make the most out of the occasion
For many, a post-lockdown Christmas party will be the first time the whole group has been able to meet together this year (in person, at least). Integrating a company awards ceremony or celebratory presentation into your event is a fantastic way to recognise months of hard work all-round. There’s plenty of scope to get creative and utilise your theme: a glamorous Hollywood Christmas -- red carpets and all -- or gift-wrapped “Santa’s Workshop” styling are perfect for prize-giving occasions.
Check the calendar
There’s more to a date than meets the eye. For those whose guests work a standard five day week -- and whose themed party will be a late-night affair -- you might want to consider a Friday evening, to cater for any sore heads the following day. However, be prepared: with in person parties only just returning, Christmas event-planning is shaping up to be a particularly competitive process this year. Bear in mind some companies have already made their bookings due to postponements from 2020, and securing a venue for a Friday or weekend might prove tricky.
That’s not to say a midweek event doesn’t have its perks, though. Increased venue availability and flexibility will suit planners or clients with packed schedules -- and frankly, what better way to beat hump-day blues than a Christmas party?
Come back down to earth
Once you’ve settled on your theme, take a moment to step back and assess your concept from a distance. It’s very easy to get swept up in the excitement of the festive season -- it’s the most wonderful time of the year, after all! -- and so it pays to evaluate your party plan with a level head. Whilst a snow machine, ice rink, and fleet of live reindeer sounds phenomenal, if it’s way over budget, it might be time to go back to the drawing board.
Likewise, resist the temptation to stray too far into the obscure in the search for a unique party theme; there’s a fine line between one-of-a-kind and unrecognisably niche! Styling your party after a cryptic mid-century book reference is unusual, yes, but if you want to ensure the occasion is accessible to all, don’t be afraid to draw inspiration from the classics.
The take-home message? Be aware of your audience, always keep budget in the back of your mind, and, most importantly, enjoy some much-needed merry-making this festive season.
Christmas at the HAC
Nestled in the heart of London -- a stone’s throw from Old Street and Moorgate stations -- the HAC is a historic venue ideal for show-stopping Christmas parties. With seven unique rooms to choose from, we pride ourselves on our flexibility: whether you’re looking to host an intimate sit-down dinner for 40 or a spectacular 700-guest celebration, our rooms allow you to perfectly tailor the space to the occasion.
What’s more, the HAC is renowned for its theming; past years have seen us transform into a Winter Wonderland, whisk guests through the wardrobe to Narnia, and step back in time to the roaring ‘20s. For Christmas 2021, our Party Package will carry you away to the Alps. Expect full après-ski styling, expert event management, and a menu designed by our award-winning catering partners, Searcys. To find out more about what’s included in our packages, or to talk to one of our dedicated Events Team, get in touch here or call 020 7382 1533.