We are elated at House of Coco that we can finally start using the C word in public! We all know that the CHRISTMAS season and in particular, the perfect festive party, benefit hugely from planning, preparation and more than just a bit of determination. So, if you want to put together a party that starts the festive season as you mean to go on and spreads Christmas magic amongst your nearest and dearest, then how do you ensure that it goes with a bang and not a whimper? Whether you are planning an extravagant feast for 400 guests, or an intimate dinner for four, there are some simple steps to follow to ensure the process goes smoothly.
Event companies, party planners and caterers can be invaluable both in ensuring that every last detail is taken care of and in honing creative decisions, as well as ensuring that, crucially, you also have the chance to enjoy the evening yourself. Your options will very much depend both on your overall budget and the type of evening you are looking to deliver, but it is worth looking at those who offer multiple services to avoid some of the tiring legwork. Some event companies offer services such as marquee hire and venue sourcing as well as taking care of furniture, while design decisions can become very straightforward by employing those who also undertake professional draping and dressing, bespoke floral arrangements, staging and lighting services.
It is worth remembering that Christmas period is an extremely busy time for those involved in the service industry so consider engaging your preferred company as soon as you possibly can – and come armed with some alternative dates just in case.
Catering and services are an area where it’s wise to really investigate the company that you are hiring for your event. Recommendations from friends are always useful and are a good way to locate a company with a track record of successful events. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of those you are hiring and make sure they know you will only expect the highest of standards.
Your catering company and your planner should firstly take time to draw up inspiring menus based on your brief. A creative company will ensure your party is different, and it is wise to avoid those who simply tell you what to do and end up producing formulaic menus and events. Rather, favour the company that asks what they can do to make your party the event of the festive period and surpasses even your expectations.
When hiring temporary chefs, waiters and planners there is nothing worse than finding them sub-standard or inexperienced, as not only can this disrupt the evening, it means the person least able to relax is you. Caterers generally use the same waiting staff but not all are employed on a permanent basis, so checking the level of training that each hired member has undertaken is a good way of identifying whether they are likely to cut the mustard.
Running a taster session beforehand with your preferred company can give you a great insight into their professionalism and allow you to sample the quality of food and service. In addition, ask your caterer about how the service will run and make sure this fits with your expectations for the night. Some caterers will go through the service an hour or so before the event starts to ensure all the staff serve the meal in the same way, so you may want to ask your planner if this is the case. If you have your own personal staff then be sure to use them on the important tables, and if they are a trusted household member then it is always worth asking their opinion on staffing arrangements, as they have both the inside industry knowledge and your best interests at heart.
If your aim is for a themed or bespoke event to really set your party apart, then it is worth considering hiring a company that will manage the entire event and all of its component parts to ensure that everything runs smoothly. Going all out with a party can be tremendous fun and the right company will help you to ensure that your nerves remain un-frazzled. Creative touches designed to imbue your guests with the Christmas spirit could be as extravagant as waiters serving you whilst ice skating or the appearance of some live reindeer, to more subtle touches such as filling the air with the scent of pine garlands and cinnamon or a quartet playing festive pieces for the pre-dinner drinks, ensuring that guests enjoy and remember your party for all of the right reasons.
Hosting a luxurious festive party can be the icing on the cake of a busy year and a chance to spend an indulgent evening with friends and acquaintances. Remember that no matter what your style and budget, the most important thing is to make sure it is an evening that not only your guests, but you yourself enjoy.
By Michael Shaw, Founder of Franklin
Founder of Franklin – Lifestyle Assistance, Household Management and Private Staffing