The sun is (occasionally) shining and summer party season is in full swing. As you enjoy those ice-cold drinks and summer vibes, thoughts of mulled wine, decorated trees and roast turkey with all the trimmings are likely to be firmly tucked away.

Yet did you know that now is a perfect time to plan your company’s Christmas event, to get ahead of the rush come autumn?

We asked Reed & Mackay Events Team Lead Harriet Warren and Venue Find Specialist Jackie Daniels for their expert insights into why – and how – you should start planning your company’s festive, end-of-year event in the summer.

When is the ideal time to start thinking about booking a venue for your Christmas event?

At least five months prior to when you want to hold it. And, a tip for when you’re thinking about when to start planning the 2024 Christmas party…booking straight after the 2023 party is ideal! Not only will you get ahead on the venues you want, it’s also an opportunity to get higher-quality feedback from your staff while this year’s party is still fresh in their minds.

Why so far in advance?

Understandably, it’s one of the busiest times of the year for event space, so bookings fill up quickly. Thursdays and Fridays are booked particularly early, as they’re still the preferred party days. If your teams are amenable to parties on other days of the week, there may be more choice available.

How can I get the best value for my booking?

First, we’d recommend asking what services are included within the price. Ask yourself, do we need all of these services? Can you bring your own decorations? And, within the price you’re offered, we’d suggest asking for arrival drinks to be included.

If your team is relatively small but you’re keen to host the party in a large-scale venue, consider joiner parties. This is when a venue offers Christmas party bookings to a number of companies. While it’s not exclusive, it’s a great opportunity to turn what would be a small party into a big one!

What should I look for as standard in a venue for a Christmas event?

Per person, in terms of food and drink, you should expect a three-course dinner, half a bottle of wine and coffee. And it wouldn’t be Christmas without mince pies and Christmas crackers; these should be standard offer in a Christmas package too.

How can I make the Christmas party memorable for the company?

Tying it in with a theme is always a pull for staff Christmas parties; go beyond the standard Christmas tree and associated novelties.

This is when working with a meetings and events agency gives the perfect opportunity to bring in the wow factor. For example, we can look at creating more experiential parties; whether that includes interactive activities, live artists or decorating companies, we work with a host of entertainment suppliers. And we have team-wide expertise in working and negotiating with venues and suppliers, as well as offering on-site support where needed.

What else should be on my checklist?

Hybrid working is increasingly prevalent so make sure if remote or hybrid workers are attending that you put hotels rooms on hold if anyone needs to stay, plus organise transfers. And rule number one is: get the invites out early so it’s in everyone’s diary!