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SYMPTOM: How do I make my budget go further without compromising the ‘wow’ factor of our party?
REMEDY: Nothing flattens morale faster than cancelling the Christmas party, but when purse strings are tight, sticking to your bottom line is vital. Bust the budget and you might jeopardise the chances of a party next year. On the other hand, no one wants to turn up to Scrooge’s Christmas bash. With a bit of careful planning, cuts in budget can increase creativity, streamline your event and result in a better party.
Look at your budget per head. Feeding guests will account for the biggest chunk of that. For a rough guide, a three-course meal comes in at around £75-£200 per head, a buffet-style meal £75 per head, drinks and canapés less if you’re planning an early evening event. Book for roughly 20% fewer people than you expect to attend and arrange a good rate for additional guests.
Think carefully about your venue. Only go for a blank canvas if you’re packing a big budget for production. Otherwise, pick a landmark like the Natural History Museum (tel: 0844 873 4974), an iconic building like 30 St Mary Axe (tel: 020 7071 5009) or a quirky space like All Star Lanes (tel: 020 7025 2676). What you spend on hire, you should save on dressing – all an interesting venue needs is clever lighting.
The classic Christmas theme never goes out of fashion. Combining festive spirit with pared-down style, its simplicity is also kinder to your budget: think roaring log fires, twinkling fairy lights and a hearty traditional menu. A cosy venue like The In & Out Club (tel: 0870 423 2012) is absolutely made for Christmas – no dressing required – while Impulse Events’ clean-cut Christmas theme at The HC (tel: 0870 383 4595) takes a more contemporary approach.
Don’t fritter money away on extras. A memorable venue, good-quality food and fun music are the vital elements of any successful party, so spend on the fundamentals and cut back where it won’t be noticed. For example, greet your guests with fabulous cocktails on arrival to make an immediate impact, and go for cheaper wines with dinner.
This article first appeared in Square Meal Venues & Events magazine, Autumn 2008.