Stress-Free Holiday Party & Event Planning Tips

Holiday parties–whether you love them or go running to hide in the supply closet, the season is upon us! If you find yourself in the position of ad hoc event planner, it doesn’t have to add (too much) stress to your life. Here are my Top 7 Event Tips for creating a well-planned, festive holiday party or event without losing your cool.

  1. Plan ahead. According to Stephen Covey of “7 Habits” fame, effective people “begin with the end in mind”. Before you begin to stress about the details, think about the outcome you would like for your event: What is the goal of your party?
    I would like people to leave my event feeling ________. For example, “this is the most fun ever they’ve ever had,” “connected to other people,” “educated about our organization’s mission,” “energized,” or “warm fuzzies about my company,” to name a few. Visualizing the outcome you want is one of the most important factors in planning any successful event.
  2. Do a little research. If you don’t have a lot of experience planning events, don’t worry. You can easily find endless checklists, resources, and helpful event planning information by Googling ‘event planning checklist,’ ‘party planning 101,’ or ‘holiday party planning tips’. No need to reinvent the wheel. You’ve got this!
  3. Enjoy the process. Don’t lose sight of the purpose of the party or event–to celebrate! (Yes, that includes you–the event planner–as well.) It’s an exhilarating feeling to see your great work come to fruition, and it takes a happy event planner to produce a joyful event. Match your mood to the occasion.
  4. Divide and conquer. Enlist the support of a few friends or coworkers to lighten your load. They will be more than happy to help. Many hands make the load lighter. It’s a great way to have fun, get to know people better, and build meaningful connections with others. There is no need to go it alone.
  5. Do a walk through. Once you think you have all your bases covered, do a mental or physical “rehearsal”. Enlist a coworker and pretend you are guests attending the event. Imagine all the different stages of attendance: from invitations and RSVPs, to arrival, parking, signage, check in and coat storage, to cleanup, vendor payments and lost and found. This is my favorite way to discover an element or detail I may have missed in the planning stage.
  6. Realistically estimate the amount of time you need to set up. Then double it. Things usually take longer than we think, and there are, almost always, some inevitable snafus that arise. Allowing yourself extra time gives you the opportunity to calmly and successfully deal with any curve balls that may come your way.
  7. Be present and enjoy. Give yourself the gift of enjoying the event you’ve invested your time, energy, and care into. You’ll have your team to assist you in making sure the details run smoothly, so be sure to take some time to get in on the fun and engage in meaningful conversation with your guests.

These seven tips can help you remain calm in the face of what may seem like countless details. By staying focused on the big picture, you’ll be better prepared to handle the planning, tasks, and surprises with ease while you remain as cool as an arctic snowflake!

Be sure to share your event stories and questions below! I’d love to hear about your favorite holiday events.

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