It's not even Halloween. And yet, now is the ideal for meeting and event planners to commence holiday-party planning, according to Successful Meetings
contributor Erin Cook, director of sales and marketing at Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa in Cedar Creek, Texas.
"The closer we get to the holiday season, the less likely planners will be able to find flexibility in choosing an event date that works best for attendees," Cook says. "So I recommend that planners book as soon as possible in order to ensure they are not forced into venues or times that are not ideal."
Of course, pulling off a successful holiday party takes more than just booking a date and venue. It requires engineering the perfect festive experience. The secret, according to Cook, is keeping it casual.
"Planners can make holiday parties fun and unique without overthinking it," Cook says. "I find the elements that matter most to guests are good food, drinks, music and company. Don't get caught up trying to make your event overly creative or distinct from years past. In fact, I've noticed a trend of companies ditching a formal holiday party altogether and opting for more casual get-togethers. Some of my favorite examples we've hosted have been everything from simple bonfires and barbecues, to happy hours with tacky holiday sweaters and white-elephant gifts. These more relaxed functions are hugely popular and allow attendees to have a great time with their colleagues and peers."
Casual affairs also leave room for corporate social responsibility, which is becoming more and more important to employees.
"With the trend of more relaxed holiday events, casual affairs can be more cost-effective, allowing more room in the budget for a charitable component," Cook concludes. "I recommend getting attendees involved in giving back -- for example, providing a silent auction that supports a local community organization, or encouraging employees to donate canned food items to a local food bank in order to be entered into a raffle or giveaway."More Tips:http://www.successfulmeetings.com/Strategy/Meeting-Strategies/How-to-Plan-an-Unforgettable-Holiday-Event-Lost-Pines-HyattQuestions, Comments, Suggestions?Contact Successful Meetings Editor in Chief Vincent Alonzo with your "How To" ideas.