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Christmas feels like a long time away to many, however, for the team in charge of organising the office or company Christmas party, the festive season will seem just around the corner.
Many companies use Christmas as an opportunity to thank staff for their hard work throughout the year and to allow workers to let their hair down. This means there can be a lot of pressure to find the perfect venue in which to host the event.
All about atmosphere
While you can hold a Christmas party at a wide variety of venues, from pubs, to restaurants, hotels, comedy clubs and football grounds or racecourses, there is one thing the experts agree all party venues must have - a good atmosphere.
Gary England, director at Ascot Hospitality, said that atmosphere is essential to a good venue.
"Whenever I have a good out night it's not about the venue but the people," he said, adding that if people are sharing a party they should check how many other groups are booked in as there is nothing worse than trying to create a good atmosphere when there are just 100 people in a room designed to hold 500.
"Entertainment at Christmas should be very good quality and fun; so people can let their hair down, have a laugh and enjoy the atmosphere of the season," he added.
Anna Walton, sales manager at Blenheim Palace Hospitality, also agreed that atmosphere is key to a good Christmas party venue: "When guests arrive the room needs have to have a wow factor to start the evening well.
"Christmas parties are to say 'thanks for all your hard work' and the venue needs to reflect that."
She added that it is also important to ensure the venue matches the needs of the company. They may have a brand image that they want to keep in mind, which will impact on how formal they want the occasion to be. For example, some companies will want employees to dress smartly, while others will expect staff to wear jeans and t-shirts.
Location, location, location
Another important element of finding the perfect Christmas party venue is choosing the right location.
Somewhere centrally located, with good transport links or near a good, affordable hotel is ideal as this means people can make their own way to and from the party.
"The first thing people complain about is how they are going to get there, the cost of taxis etc," Ms Walton stated, suggesting that picking a local venue is normally the best idea.
In terms of hosting the Christmas party in another city, she said that travelling further afield can prove problematic.
"There's always one person who has to remain as the organiser to make sure everyone gets back ok and at Christmas you want everyone to be able to relax," she said.
"And if people have been eating and drinking lots, they don't want a long coach journey home."
However, Mr England suggests that having a Christmas party in a different city can be the perfect excuse for an extended celebration.
"If you are looking at going into London that can be combined with a shopping weekend, or at Ascot Racecourse you have Windsor nearby. You could organise special programmes to tourist attractions and really make the party a weekend celebration," he said.
Mr England advised researching local hotels and booking a preferred rate if possible so that people don't have to break the bank to enjoy the party.
Do your research
Doing research before booking a Christmas party venue is essential to make sure you get the best deal possible.
Mr England advises visiting the venue in advance, ensuring that the quality is what you are expecting and also to gain assurances about the entertainment and the food being served.
In particular, he suggests checking that beverages are priced appropriately, and are not going to be too expensive for some guests.
He also advised that the Christmas party organisers do a small survey before making any decisions.
"Christmas parties can be minefield in that they are organised by social committees or working groups that are making decisions on behalf of all employees," Mr England stated.
Ms Walton also emphasised the importance of careful planning, stressing the importance of considering why the party is actually taking place, as this will impact on what venue is chosen.
"For example, is it as reward? If so, then having the party at a five-star venue may make it an extra special treat," she noted.
Finally, to get the best Christmas party venue it is advisable to book early. At the time of writing, Blenheim Palace only had one shared party night available and a couple of private party dates, while its festive lunches are going fast. Ascot Hospitality is sold out for a number of prime weekend dates and is expecting a surge of bookings at the end of October and beginning of November for its shared party business.