Most PAs are likely to be amid organising the annual Christmas party right now. And after last year’s hiatus in celebrations, people have elevated expectations of this year’s event being bigger and better than ever. There may still be some complexities in planning an event that all the team are comfortable with, and meets health advice, but this Christmas makes a fresh start. A time to embrace contemporary trends and ideas to create an event that will be the centre of office conversation for the next year!
That is why we have turned to Liz Taylor, celebrity event planner and hospitality consultant, who shares her thoughts on the top Christmas party trends we’re likely to see for 2021…
Taking the party outdoors is still a huge trend this year. My favourite design for a party with outdoor elements is Après Ski – channelling the decadence of post-skiing parties in the Alps.
Tipis are understandably popular at this type of party or opt for a village of wooden huts to give an authentic feel. Cosy fire pits, faux furs and rustic benches set the scene with pillar candles and twinkling fairy lights adding ambience.
Go all out with ice sculptures, ice luges – why not throw in a full ice bar? Catering should be stylish in its simplicity for this type of event. It is all about comfort foods – fondue or raclette go down well. As does Tartiflette – a rich baked dish made with potatoes, bacon, onions, crème fraiche and lashings of reblochon cheese.
No Après Ski party can go without a bar. Revellers can warm themselves with mulled wine, spiced cider, hot chocolate with all the trimmings, festive cocktails, or of course Schnapps. Entertain them with alpine-inspired acts and performers to complete the night.
After time out from partying, there is an appetite to really go all out with the glamour this year. Think 1920s Hollywood with décor and drinks to match. Champagne is back with a vengeance, so be sure to include a Champagne bar if you are going with this theme. For an authentic vibe, build a bespoke speakeasy behind faux walls and serve ‘prohibition’ cocktails dressed in pearls and feathers. Here is a selection of the best Roaring 20s cocktails: https://www.tlc-ltd.co.uk/top-1920s-inspired-cocktails/
Black tie dress code and days of outfit preparation are a must – if you’re not dressed like you’re going to the Oscars, you’re at the wrong party. A jazz duo or 1920s band will create the perfect atmosphere for flappers to take to the dancefloor and teach guests The Charleston.
COP26. Greta Thunberg. There is a huge movement away from single use plastic and events that ignore the environmental impact they have. Increasingly we are being asked to look at every element of our Christmas parties to see how we can make them more environmentally friendly – without losing style.
From sourcing local suppliers and environmentally friendly venues, to getting rid of throw away items such as plastic straws and Christmas crackers with plastic toys. And quite frankly – thank goodness. In, are reusable ideas such as a small Christmas tree that can be replanted, seeds, and charitable gifts. Or edibles such as handmade chocolate gifts, gingerbread and gorgeous festive hessian bags filled with cookies. And if you want Christmas crackers, we love these environmentally friendly ones from Nancy and Betty https://www.nancyandbetty.com/collections/christmas-crackers
I’d opt to use local and sustainable food suppliers to create heart-warming dishes and include one vegan course on your menu. Sustainable wines offer all the superb taste that you demand. And everyone can enjoy a glass if you provide eco-transport with hybrid taxis or bio-fuel coach transport.
This year has seen a shift towards fine dining and being entertained whilst still seated. Think cabarets, comedy nights, acrobats and show performers, and the old school glamour of the 1920s once again.
Put food in the spotlight. What is on the menu is becoming more central to the experience in 2021. I usually say nobody is going to remember what they ate at a party, but this year they really might! I would create a gourmet experience using locally produced foods. An individual smorgasbord of festive treats. Hot winter soups poured from vintage teapots into individual China cups. Or spice it up – try a Mexican inspired platter with tacos and tequila to set the tastebuds alight! The key here to infuse every dish with inspiring presentation, drama, and theatre, so that eating becomes an elevated experience … even when you stay seated.
Add a unique entertainment element. A slight of hand magician who visits tables and performs tricks. Bands and ensembles such as The London Essentials that travel from table to table to entertain guests. A caricaturist. Or why not get a personalised mixologist to visit the tables and mix up an exclusive drink based on your guest’s favourite tipples.
PARTIES ANY NIGHT OF THE WEEK
Venues are well and truly booked out at prime time, given the high demand after last year’s last minute Christmas cancellation. Thursday is the new Friday, Wednesday is the new Thursday and hey, who says you can’t party on a Monday? The bonus? Midweek nights usually offer a more affordable party, the same experience just a cheaper price. Win. Win.
This is another trend which was brought to the fore by Covid-cautious businesses and those with geographically spread-out teams. Smaller parties are being held in private ‘satellite’ locations with teams linking up to take part in company-wide entertainment for part of the evening. Be it a festive quiz, speeches, or something a bit more fun like a talent show, it’s a way of bringing people together without fear of last-minute cancellations. This party format works especially well for those with international offices.
Engagement is the challenge here, so blend the real and virtual worlds. Get gorgeous food delivered to your guests, so that you can all dine together. Or chefs such as Rick Stein and Tom Kerridge are offering lovely food boxes, so guests can all cook-along from home. Don’t force the fun though. Let professionals do the work here. Hire a studio where you can film live entertainment and beam it into the homes of your virtual colleagues.
TRADITION AND A FOCUS ON GIVING
With Christmas being so unusual last year, it is driving a real return to traditional Christmas. Think grand Georgian venues, stunning floor to ceiling Christmas trees and traditional tartan and green and gold colourways. Mince pies, mulled wine and of course turkey with all the trimmings, with carol singers thrown in for good measure. That said, people also want to give something back. We’re seeing many clients offering up their workforce to volunteer for a charitable experience on the afternoon ahead of their Christmas party, ensuring that this year their event comes wrapped with the true spirit of Christmas.
Liz Taylor is the founder and CEO of the Taylor Lynn Corporation (www.tlc-ltd.co.uk), a prestigious event management company with many a celebrity within its enviable client base. Amongst many others, Liz was responsible for organising the weddings of Michelle Keegan and Mark Bright, Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford and Howard Donald. She has overseen numerous Coronation Street Christmas parties, Champions League and Christmas parties for Manchester United, and oversaw the Winter White Ball for HRH The Duke of Cambridge, with Taylor Swift and Jon Bon Jovi, at Kensington Palace.
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