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A beginner’s guide to Christmas party planning

A beginner’s guide to Christmas party planning

November is here, which can only mean one thing: Christmas party season is just around the corner!

If you haven’t planned your festivities yet, don’t fret. Our fabulous event experts share their top party planning tips.

Know your budget

When it comes to party planning, all the fun stuff springs to mind: decorations, music, entertainment… But don’t forget the most important thing on your to-do list: budgeting.

You don’t want to promise people an extravaganza if you can’t afford it. If you’ve hosted parties before, use your past expenditure as a guide. Party-planning newbie? Think about your event priorities – a magical venue? A festive feast? – and plan your budget accordingly.

Knowing how much money you’ve got and what you’d like to spend it on is key to party-planning success. It’ll also help you determine whether your party will be a grand affair or something a little smaller.

White piece of paper with 'My Christmas Wish List' written on it, surrounded by festive decorations.
He’s making a list, checking it twice, gonna find out if the price is naughty or nice…

Think about your audience

A party is all about people, which means that whatever festivities you’re planning should be designed with them in mind. Send around a poll of different party options to see what type of celebration people would prefer to ensure your celebrations are fully inclusive.

Don’t forget to collate people’s ideal dates and times too. If you’re planning a work do, evenings and weekends will probably work best, while a daytime get-together is often ideal for older guests and families with young children. Whatever date you land on, triple-check your calendar: you do not want your festivities clashing with the World Cup Final!

People at a Christmas party dinner table, holding sparklers.
Whether your guests prefer a cosy night in or dancing ’til midnight, make sure to plan your party for them.

Decide on your vibe

The best Christmas parties are the ones that get you in the festive spirit. And there’s no better way to do that than by creating the perfect Yuletide atmosphere. We’re talking decorations, music, and more. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Cosy Christmastime – a hug of a party. Think warm lighting, mulled wine, red, green and gold decorations, plus the classic Christmas tunes or carols we all know and love.
  2. A winter wonderland – bring the outside in with icy décor in silver and white, and plenty of sparkles. For extra effect, create simple holly and fir centrepieces and drape romantic strands of ivy around banisters and door handles.
  3. Glitz and glamour – there’s no time to dress up quite like Christmas. Opt for a sophisticated soiree with a black/red and gold theme, mirrored in sleek, modern decorations.
People dressed for a glitzy and glamorous Christmas party. They're dancing and having fun.
Make your party pop with well thought-out decorations and décor.

Find the right venue

When searching for a venue, remember to prioritise capacity and location. There’s no point choosing an amazing venue if your guests can’t get to it, or it’s too small for your party.

To help narrow down your search, ask your guests how far they’d be willing to travel and to share any accessibility needs they may have; a venue that doesn’t suit your guests’ needs is the ultimate party pooper.

You can then find a venue that best suits your party: somewhere cosy for more intimate get-togethers, a grand hall for a showstopping spectacular for 200, or something a bit out there for a celebration with a twist. Check out our venue guide to find your perfect match.

Two people sat at table laughing at Christmas party. Glitter and confetti are on the table and original bank vaults can be seen in the background.
All that glitters: The Vaults at The Exchange provides a sparkling Christmas party backdrop.

Choose the best menu

No celebration is complete without great food and drink. Once you have your guestlist and party theme nailed, you can think about how you’d like to fuel your festivities.

A buffet is perfect for large, informal parties, whilst a three-course fine dining menu is better suited to a black-tie event. If you’re looking for something a bit different this year, why not opt for an afternoon tea with a Christmassy twist? Or even arrange a ‘potluck’ where your guests share their favourite festive treats with the party?

Whatever you go for, remember to ask your guests beforehand if they have any dietary requirements or specific allergies. Don’t forget to include a great range of low-alcohol and non-alcoholic drinks into the mix too.

Table laid for a Christmas afternoon tea. Fine china is on the table, along with a stand with sandwiches and sweet treats,
Looking for something a little less traditional? Opt for afternoon tea with a Christmassy twist.

At the University of Birmingham, our Food Fellows chefs will do all the hard work for you with seasonal treats and feasts designed to make every mouth water. We’re talking turkey with all the trimmings, festive parfaits, Christmas pudding cheesecakes, homemade rum truffles, and more. Hungry to know more? Take a look at our Christmas menus today!

Mince pie on plate next to clotted cream. Christmas cracker and decorations frame the image.
Nothing says Christmas like buttery mince pies and a dollop of brandy butter…

When it comes to party planning, sometimes it’s easier to call in the experts. Get in touch to find out how our event coordinators can help make your Christmas sparkle from start to finish.

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