Christmas is fast approaching and people are getting ready to celebrate. It’s time for party planners to start making those lists and checking them twice. From planning an office Christmas party to comedy-themed or church parties, it’s all about connecting and having fun – whether that’s in the same room or on our screens. The last couple of years have brought new challenges but that’s not going to stop us from throwing a great Christmas party.

Thinking about how to plan a Christmas party can feel slightly overwhelming. It’s been a tough year for creators and we want life to be as low-stress as possible. That’s where Eventbrite can help. Whether it’s choosing the right venue, going hybrid, or planning on a budget, we’ve put everything you need to know about how to throw the best Christmas party in this simple step-by-step guide.

1. Select a time and date

Before you make any big decisions, a good first step is to think about who your attendees are and choose a time and date that works best for them. A daytime Christmas party is perfect for younger children who need to go to bed early or older people who want to get home, but it’s probably not ideal for students who like to party late. For the office Christmas party, people might prefer a weekend or evening event where they can let their hair down and have a lie-in the next day.

Start by checking what else is already happening around your preferred date and be as flexible as you can. By keeping an eye on social media and speaking to people from your target audience, you can avoid dates when people are likely to be booked up. It’s better to change your date at this stage than to clash with another event later on. Choosing a date earlier in December gets you ahead of the game and may mean you’ll have a wider range of venues to choose from.

2. Research Christmas party venues

Christmas is one of the most popular holidays of the year, so bigger venues might sell out their key dates quickly. While Friday and Saturday slots might book out early in the year, there could still be availability from Monday to Thursday. To find a venue with available slots, you can use an online venue finder. Type in your location, date, and any other criteria and it will bring up all suitable venues.

Choosing a venue

While the right location can really make your event, remember that size also matters when it comes to the venue. Too big and there’s no atmosphere – too small and guests feel overcrowded. Bear in mind that people may still feel more comfortable having a little extra space at in-person events, too. Having a realistic prediction of guest numbers can help here. The aim is to find a venue that has enough space to enjoy and interact but not so much that we lose connection. You should also consider the layout of the room and make sure it fits with what your party-goers want (for example, a dance floor).

When choosing your venue, keep your guests’ needs at the forefront of your mind. Think about how people will get safely to and from your event. Is there easy access to public transport or will you need to arrange a lift? Is there disabled parking and access for people in wheelchairs or with prams? Is the area safe and well lit? Do your guests have any other specific needs? If it’s a ticketed event, what is the venue booking policy regarding cancellations and refunds? 

Other factors to consider are the amenities the venue provides. For your in-person guests, you need to know:

  • Does the venue have its own sound system or DJ?
  • Is there a dance floor?
  • Is there an outside terrace?
  • Will the venue be exclusive to you?
  • Does the venue have a hire fee or minimum spend?
  • Does the venue have a dedicated event manager to support you?
  • Does the venue have bedrooms so guests can opt to stay if they wish?
  • Does the venue have adequate disabled toilets and baby-changing facilities?

When it comes to online and hybrid events, it’s just as important that our virtual attendees have a great experience. This will largely be down to technical aspects such as video and sound quality, as well as accessibility features like closed captioning. To meet the needs of online events, Eventbrite has developed seamless integrations with Zoom and Vimeo. This enables creators to set up and host their events using the best livestreaming technology and a range of interactive features.

3. Decide your Christmas party themes

Having a theme that appeals to your audience is a great way to generate excitement. In the case of hybrid events, it can also make those who are attending virtually feel more included. From a promotional perspective, a well-chosen theme can help with marketing as well as bumping ticket sales. Here are a few Yuletide-themed party ideas to inspire you:

  • Traditional Christmas. This is all about our festive favourites, whether it’s the smell of mulled wine, those beloved Christmas tunes or kisses under the mistletoe.
  • Winter Wonderland. Here’s a chance to embrace your inner Frozen character. Think icy decor with everything in silver and white, glistening in the candlelight.
  • Christmas jumper and PJs party. Time for people to dig out their go-to Christmas cosies. And don’t forget a prize for the best and worst Christmas jumper!
  • Favourite Christmas character. Ask people to come as their favourite Christmas character. Expect Father Christmas, Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph and The Grinch. Who will win best-dressed guest?
  • Red and gold party. Red and gold are colours that evoke an elegant, sophisticated Christmas. Ask your guests to dress up and carry the theme through your decorations.

You don’t have to stick to one theme. Why not have a different theme in different rooms if you have the space and budget? Even in a smaller venue, you could have an area for Santa’s Grotto or make your own decorations to match the themes. If you’re thinking about how to plan a church Christmas party, think about ways to incorporate the Nativity and the Christmas story. For virtual Christmas party ideas, think about things everyone can do at home like a Christmas dish or cocktail, or fun party games. And of course, don’t forget Christmas party songs. When thinking about how to throw a Christmas do, the key is to get creative!

4. Figure out your food and decoration budget

Now that you have a venue and a theme, it’s time to think about the nitty-gritty details of your budget. Knowing how many you need to cater for can help you work out how much you’ll need to spend per head. Depending on your budget, there are lots of options.

Bigger budget 

Sit-down dinners are very popular, especially for corporate events. It’s always a good idea to ask around and see which venue can give you the best deal per head. Some venues provide a range of catering packages. Remember to get the best deal on drinks packages, too. Giving businesses and groups the opportunity to pre-book a table makes good financial sense and gives you a better idea of numbers. As well as saving you time, asking the venue to decorate the room in line with your party theme means you won’t need to buy things you won’t use again.

Medium budget

In the middle tier, it’s about keeping costs down where you can. If you’re planning an office party, think about using your favourite outside caterer to provide a buffet at your own premises. This way, the money you save on hiring a venue can be spent on invitations, decorations, and entertainment. Buying your own drinks can be much more cost-effective, too. Look out for seasonal offers or reductions for bulk orders.

Smaller budget 

Making your own food can be much cheaper, though remember to calculate the cost of all your ingredients plus plates, cups, and utensils. You could even arrange a ‘potluck’, where everyone brings a dish and drinks to share. Homemade decorations can be just as effective and the right lighting can go a long way to creating that festive vibe.

Whatever your budget, don’t forget to consider the dietary requirements of your guests. Always offer vegetarian and vegan options and ask your guests about any specific needs like allergies. Don’t forget to provide low-alcohol and alcohol-free drinks too. Sharing ingredients and menu ideas with virtual guests will make everybody feel included.

5. Pick Christmas party games and entertainment

Festive entertainment can really get your party started. Maybe your budget stretches to a DJ or band, or maybe your more intimate event has you dusting off your card games. Whatever your budget or venue size, games and entertainment are a great way to break the ice, get people laughing, and keep the energy high. Picking interactive online games like Jackbox, bingo or trivia quizzes gives virtual guests a chance to join in the fun. Check out these online Christmas party ideas and make sure your guests have everything they need to get fully involved. You can get as creative as you like!

We want everyone to feel part of the fun so make sure the games you choose are fully accessible and don’t exclude anyone. It’s important to keep everyone safe, too – so it might be better to avoid drinking games or anything too physical.

Here are a few ideas of games and entertainment to get you started:

Christmas party games

  • Pass the parcel
  • Musical chairs
  • Musical statues
  • Charades
  • Stuff a Christmas stocking
  • Christmas Pictionary
  • Pin the tail on the reindeer
  • Christmas wrapping relay
  • Christmas treasure hunt
  • Guess the weight of the Christmas pudding
  • Bingo

Christmas entertainment

  • Karaoke
  • Photobooth
  • Children’s entertainer
  • Comedian
  • DJ
  • Live band
  • Magician
  • Santa’s grotto
  • Gingerbread house decorating
  • Make a Christmas card
  • Decorate the tree
  • Kids’ corner
  • Christmas film

6. Design your invitations

Your next step is invitations. It’s all about promoting your event and making sure it’s a big success, and that’s where Eventbrite can really help. Use email marketing tools and eye-catching event pages to create the ultimate event invite, all with the aim of attracting a bigger audience to your celebration.

With Eventbrite, invitations can be personalised and customised to reflect the party’s theme – all the better for creating expectations and generating a buzz. As well as uploading contact lists, you can keep track of who has opened an email and who has withdrawn from the list. This can help you target your marketing approach and better focus your resources. By using Eventbrite Boost, you can also promote your event more widely, reach more people and drive ticket sales.

Depending on your budget and party size, you may decide to promote your party on your own social media or adopt a more traditional form of invitation. To get the best results, think about your guest list and how to reach them easily. As an example, older attendees might prefer an email or card rather than an invitation on Facebook or Instagram. Whatever you do, make sure your invitation contains all the relevant information such as date, time, venue, cost, dress code, theme and how to buy a ticket.

7. Set the price of your Christmas party tickets

The ticket price will depend on the type of event you’re holding. For instance, if it’s a grand three-course dinner and dance, you could charge anywhere between $80 and $100 per person or sell it by the table to businesses. When hosting a fundraising event, a charitable contribution can be incorporated into the ticket price. Whatever size of event you’re planning, you need to ensure that the ticket price is realistic and covers all your outgoings including venue, food, drinks, decorations, and entertainment. Including drinks vouchers in the ticket price could be a simple way to maximise revenue at your event, too.

Another good way to increase revenue is by providing a range of ticket options. To make this easier, Eventbrite lets you cater to different budgets and create different ticketing tiers. These could include VIP packages, early bird tickets or table reservations. You can also offer different ticket prices based on whether people are attending in person or virtually. Using a ticket tier system could reduce no-shows and give you an earlier indication of expected numbers.

Your Christmas Party Planning Checklist

There’s no doubt that a great party means lots to plan and remember – using a checklist can help ensure nothing gets forgotten. You can tick things off as you work down your list.

  • Choose a date and time
  • Find a venue
  • Choose a theme
  • Set a budget
  • Plan the menu
  • Plan decorations
  • Find games and entertainment
  • Send out invitations
  • Confirm final numbers
  • Party time!

Frequently asked questions

Here are some of the questions asked by Christmas party planners:

  • When should you start planning a Christmas party? Start planning as soon as you can after setting a date. The sooner you start, the more time you’ll have for serious Christmas party organisation.
  • How do you organise a kids’ Christmas party? Keep it simple, from the food to the decorations and entertainment. Think about your age range and focus on what they need. Simple party games like musical chairs always go down well – and allow as much space as you can for running around. Children’s party entertainment is all about having fun.
  • How do you host a Christmas party on a budget? Hosting virtual Christmas parties or hybrid events can keep costs low and still be lots of fun. Let everyone know the theme in plenty of time and send menu and decoration ideas. Choose games that work as well online as they do in person.
  • How do you plan a Christmas party at home? A party at home can be rewarding but a lot of work. Get as much help as you can and keep your numbers relatively low. Having some virtual guests might work. Use the Christmas party planning checklist and stick to your budget.
  • What questions do I need to ask about Christmas party venues? Ask about availability, size, how much it will cost per head, and what are the terms and conditions of booking. You also need to know about entertainment, staffing, parking, and catering and bar facilities.
  • What are the Christmas party essentials? Tasty food, a variety of drinks, lively Christmas music, eye-catching decorations, friends, fun, and laughter. Tick those boxes and you’re onto a winner!

Get to grips with Christmas party marketing

You don’t want all your hard work to go to waste, so start promoting your event as soon as you can. It’s a good idea to have a two or three-month lead time in order to create that initial interest across social media. If you have an email list, starting marketing in good time means you can schedule a series of emails. Keeping on top of Christmas party marketing can help you manage things like catering and staff.

Eventbrite has lots of marketing tools to get you started, including Eventbrite Boost, an all-in-one event management platform that can help you organise and promote in-person, virtual, and hybrid events. Feeling inspired? Find out how Eventbrite can help you get that party started.