Forget what Andy Williams sang about this being the Most Magical Time of the Year – it’s the craziest, by far! Whether you always knew you were going to be the one planning this year’s holiday party and it just hasn’t happened yet, or the task just landed in your lap, you’re learning fast that all the venues on your top five, ten and now twenty list aren’t available. Or, just as bad, they aren’t able to budge on their minimums to keep you on budget.

You feel like the traffic light has gone from flashing yellow to red, right?

Not to worry – limitations can actually open the door to solutions. Here are four ways to help you stand out this holiday season, without compromising on the festive factor.


Stay put – it’s free, eliminates logistical hurdles + adds value
That’s right. You’re standing in your own venue! Going off-site to make an event special is a ruse. Businesses like those in the Innovation District in downtown Boston or over the water in Cambridge’s Kendall Square are in spaces that are built for a party; open square footage means freer think space – and greater gathering space! Take a page out of their book: optimize open spaces and take the logistics of finding and coordinating with a venue out of the mix.

Get people mixing + moving
Mix things up! Food and beverage stations are to a party what gravity is to earth: a natural rendezvous point. But we always find the people we know, right? It’s easy to get people moving by expanding on the familiar yet offering an interactive element (or two!) where people can converse over new things, make more meaningful connections and learn something along the way. Work with key vendors that have experience doing so, and let them take this planning element off your plate.

Pique curiosity – embrace the element of discovery or surprise
Everyone’s been asking what’s on tap for this year’s party, right? Embrace their need to know by stoking their curiosity. Make your invitation opaque, declaring only the party time and place (and maybe that its open bar). Better yet, consider designing a scavenger hunt element with clues to get people to the right place. (Need help with this? Bring key team leads into the planning process – have them design a hunt for their own team. This will foster additional interaction, personalization and fun without you having to do it all.)

Host during “regular” business hours
Make it easy for people to attend. Hosting an event at the end of a workday, say starting at 3:30pm or 4 o’clock, shows your staff that you value their attendance and their personal time (which is strained as it is during the busy holiday season).

With the holidays fast approaching creativity is your best friend. But you don’t have to have all the ideas! By keeping things on your home turf you have the flexibility to partner with a vendor(s) that can alleviate the planning process and add something different to your shindig.

Bottom Line: Planners should be able to enjoy the festivities, too, even if they happen to be late to the planning game. With a little help, they can!