10 Tips for Producing a Great Holiday Event

The holidays are fast approaching and that means it's time to start planning your company's annual festivities. It's a joyous time—and also a golden opportunity for members from every level of an organization to mingle and bond. Here are 10 tips to help ensure that your event is all that it can be.

1. For larger events, offer different rooms with different activities or entertainment—this enables attendees to find something they can relate to instead of being trapped in a static atmosphere.

2. Offer health-conscious food and beverage alternatives that will be appealing to attendees who may be trying to avoid the traditional indulgences of the holidays.

3. For a fun and inexpensive dance starter, attach helium balloons to 24-inch stems, which allow the balloons to stand up on their own, and pre-set them on the dance floor. This gives the group a wonderful view during dinner and it adds an element of playfulness when guests start to dance among them.

4. Take responsibility and offer your guests an innovative and responsible solution to measure their blood alcohol levels. Install a commercial breath alcohol tester on the premises. Guests can monitor their blood alcohol levels and avoid driving home inebriated. This technology is also available in single-use disposable breath alcohol tester tubes for individual distribution. Companies have the option to personalize the packaging of the single-use tubes with their logo. This gesture is appreciated by all and is a good marketing opportunity for potential event sponsors.

5. Your own "Company Carolers" can add a wonderful element of warmth and holiday spirit to the "walk-in" portion of your event. Two or three rehearsals are all that is needed and the participants will love being center stage in front of a festive holiday curtain or backdrop.

6. Allow extra time during the holidays—at least 30 minutes—for your guests to arrive and to move from the cocktail reception into the dining room. The holidays tend to be a time when people reconnect and there is considerable mingling. In order for your program to remain on time, the slower movement of people into your main event needs to be considered.

7. To assist in the flow of people from the cocktail area to the dining area, use one main entrance and provide a table schematic at your registration desk so guests can easily flow in and find their tables in a less frenetic manner.

8. Alter the scale of the decor by creating giant ornaments in the sky. Begin by suspending enormous white balloons (perhaps three, four, and five feet in diameter, depending on the scale of the environment) from the ceiling. Alternatively, helium-filled balloons could be weighted and anchored to tables. Throughout the event, colors, patterns, photos, or special effects can be projected on the balloons' spherical surfaces to support what is happening below. At a climactic moment, consider triggering electronic squibs wired to explode each balloon on cue, releasing great quantities of white, ultra-light confetti. This is particularly fun over a dance floor if the band begins playing a rockin' version of "Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow."

9. Incorporate a charitable component into the theme to give the event additional meaning. Break arriving guests into teams and orchestrate your first annual "gingerbread bank" contest. Each team will erect and decorate its own creation, to be used first as a centerpiece for the table. At the end of the dinner, one of the participants can then take the new bank to work or home to be filled with checks and cash. The banks could be collected within 30 days by the host and donated to a local shelter.

10. Make the memory of your holiday event last with an inexpensive memento for your guests to take home. A nice clear or tinted champagne flute, wine glasses or other glass with your logo, message, or event date and time etched on it would be used for years to come. If your budget won't allow for etching, an inexpensive alternative is a very light gray screen imprint, which will look like an etching, and last as long, while costing much less.