It’s the holiday season and this means “party time” for many organizations. Over the years I’ve attended dozens of holiday and have even been involved in planning a few myself (check out the Vancouver Street Soccer League’s Holiday Haul ). There is lots of information that will help you plan a holiday party. HR Insights has a basic checklist. Lifehacker has a more generic guide for hosting the perfect get together here. Building on these great resources and the festive-event-throwing-experience of our editorial team, here are three tips for throwing a kick ass holiday party.

Make it yours

What sort of party are you planning to hold? Is it an informal get together, a mingler, a fancy festive feast, a departmental holiday soiree, a low key drop in for your co-workers, or an inclusive community dinner? The food, music and decorations will set the tone for your event. Think about the different senses – what will people see, hear and (most important in my mind) taste? Then think about the location. Make sure your venue reflect the character of your party and, most importantly, ensure it’s accessible to the audience you are targeting. It may be a great spot, but if it is a two hour drive away or only has high-tables, expect there may be some significant drop off from parents, transit-users, and folks who use wheelchairs.

Make your party a tasty one

Great parties have great food. While it may seem attractive to just plop down some cold cuts and mini-cubes of cheese you bought from Costco, going a little further with dips and spreads and finger foods just takes your party to the next level. It also helps modulate the drinkers in the crowd (sometimes) and can also underline the theme of your “personalized” party. Not sure what to make? Drop by your friendly local cookbook store (Barbara Jo’s Books to Cooks is our favourite here in Vancouver) and ask for some of their best appetizer cookbooks. Whip something tasty up using a choice recipe or two or derive inspiration and collaborate with your caterer to take it to the next level.

Inject some social lubricants

We all know those people who can talk to just about anyone. They’re like little talking wind-up toys. You just let them loose into the party and they seem to effortlessly network, connecting one person to the next with funny and engaging anecdotes and common threads.  In this article in Entreprenuer, these people are called “anchors” and they are critical for the party’s early hours when attendance may be a bit light and people may feel like awkward wall flowers. As host you can do some work here, but the more socially dexterous people you’ve got working the room, the better. Consider who in your organization or among your friends fits this mold and work extra hard to make sure they’re at the party early.


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