What to consider if you’re planning this year’s Christmas party – Mairi Gray, Event Manager at LSO St Luke’s

So you’ve been given the daunting task of planning this year’s festive celebrations. But fear not, this holiday season we’re making it as easy as possible to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year with these top tips for planning a Christmas celebration.

1.       Visualise your event

This is something we recommend planners should consider for any event. Before you get stuck into organising your Christmas party it’s essential to define what it is that you are trying to achieve. Imagine yourself in the shoes of your guests and consider what you would like to see, hear, eat and experience. It’s always a good idea to ask another member of the team what they expect from the evening to ensure you’re hitting the mark. Deciding what kind of event you’re planning early on, means you can more easily refer back to the original vision to make sure you’re not veering away from the initial plan.

2.       Prioritise your budget

One of the biggest factors in the planning process is setting a budget. First, consider how much you are willing/able to spend and use that as a framework to define what type of venue, catering and entertainment is within your price-range. After considering these absolute essentials decide which features are the most important and allocate funds accordingly. Do you need a three-course sit down menu or will canapés and bowl food be enough? Will you want a live, five-piece band or will a DJ suit better? Once you’ve decided what’s most important, it is easier to create a budget. It’s always a good idea to allow a little leeway and keep a reserve in case of any unexpected costs.

3.       Food and drink

What would Christmas be without the festive fare? There really is something for everyone but remember, when deciding on your food offerings, try to keep a few things in mind. With many people attending more than one Christmas party during the winter season, roast turkey and gravy can get tedious. Try mixing things up by adding a seasonal twist on some classics. From Christmas tree cupcakes to fruit pavlovas shaped like a wreath, festive food offers a great opportunity for personalisation and adds a fun dimension.

A nice way to change things up while keeping some tradition, is opting for more informal dining styles, consider bite sized versions of Christmas classics like beef wellington, Yorkshire puddings and Christmas cakes. This is great for keeping to the theme while allowing guests to socialise and mingle over food.

When it comes to Christmas tipples, the classics always go down well with guests. Perhaps start with a traditional mulled wine, hot toddy or warm, spiced cider served on arrival as you welcome guests in from the cold.

Take things to the next level by inventing a signature cocktail which resonates with the team and give it a fun name which sets the tone for the event. Remember to offer non-alcoholic alternatives for those who don’t drink, or are driving so that no one’s left out.

4.       Setting the scene

Creating a memorable atmosphere for any event is crucial, but never more so than at a Christmas party. Guests will be expecting a festive welcome to get into the Christmas spirit, so look to theme and decorate the venue space as much as possible. You want to take guests on a journey and one of the best ways to create an immersive feeling is by making the party as visually spectacular as possible.

Luckily, the Christmas period is not short of emotive sights, sounds and experiences which encapsulate the season, so planners have a range of options to choose from. Winter wonderland, Après Ski, Santas and Elves and even ugly Christmas jumper themed parties are all great fun and offer a much needed sense of communality.

Keep the story going long after the event has ended by adding a few social media friendly touches that encourage guests to share their experience online. Perhaps have a selfie booth or a picture with Santa stand and ask guests to use a personalised handle so people can follow the conversation online.


Christmas is about bringing people together, so the office Christmas party should be designed to get employees mingling. Whether that be social dining styles, visually spectacular talking points or immersive entertainment, you want guests to feel like they’ve shared an experience.

Written by Mairi Gray, Event Manager at LSO St Luke’s 

As the LSO St Luke’s Event Manager, Mairi is part of the team responsible for delivering the busy programme of events at the London Symphony Orchestra’s flourishing music education centre. Working as a member of the Events Team, she ensures the smooth running of a variety of artistic, private and commercial events, internally and externally promoted concerts and LSO Discovery projects. The role involves event and duty management, venue sales to external corporate, private and artistic clients and administrative and financial duties.

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