Friday, 04 December 2015

How to Throw the Best Christmas Party

Michael Shaw gives us his best advice for throwing the most luxurious festive party in town

luxurious-christmas-176-2As with all things Christmassy, it takes planning, preparation, and more than a touch of determination to achieve the perfect festive party.
Especially one which will start the festive season with aplomb and leave your guests with that sense of jingle magic. But how do you ensure the party goes with a bang and not a whimper? Whether you're planning an intimate dinner for four or an extravagant feast for 400, if you want to host an evening no one will forget in a hurry then there are some simple and pertinent steps all should consider.

In order to ensure you also have the chance to enjoy the evening yourself, caterers are an absolute must
and a party planner can be invaluable both in ensuring that every last detail is taken care of and in honing creative decisions. As the Christmas period is a very busy one for caterers and event planners in particular, it is essential that you engage your preferred company as soon as possible to guarantee their availability (and having some alternative dates in mind also helps).

In seeking out the perfect company for your needs, this will very much depend both on your overall budget and the type of evening you are looking to deliver.
Some companies offer services such as marquee hire and venue sourcing so that you can avoid all the tiring legwork, while design decisions can become very straightforward by employing those whom also undertake professional draping and dressing, bespoke floral arrangements, staging and lighting services.

However, when hiring temporary chefs, waiters and planners there is nothing worse than finding them sub-standard or inexperienced, as not only can this disrupt the evening, it means the person least able to relax is you.
If possible it is always helpful to run a taster session where you can sample menu options but also gain an insight into the professionalism and service of a caterer. Seeking out recommendations from friends and family is also a good way to locate those with a stellar reputation acquired from many a successful event. Don't be afraid to ask questions of those you are hiring and make sure they know you will only expect the highest of standards. Checking how much training you can expect from each hired member is a good way of identifying whether they are likely to cut the mustard.

Caterers generally use the same waiting staff but not all are employed on a permanent basis.
Ask your caterer about how the service will run and make sure this fits with your expectations for the night. Some caterers will go through the service an hour or so before the event starts to ensure all the staff serve the meal in the same way, so you may want to ask your planner if this is the case. If you have your own personal staff then be sure to use them on the important tables, and if they are a trusted household member then it is always worth asking their opinion on staffing arrangements, as they have both the inside industry knowledge and your best interests at heart.

Time should be taken to draw up inspiring menus based on your brief.
You want a creative company to ensure your party is different, and try to avoid those who simply tell you what to do and end up producing formulaic menus and events. Rather, favour the company that asks what they can do to make your party the event of the festive period, and one that surpasses even your expectations.

If you are really looking to go all out
Then selecting a company which can also produce themed and bespoke events can be tremendous fun and surprisingly simple as all you really have to do is decide how big you want to go (there is quite a gulf between some festive table settings and the employment of a live reindeer...). Hiring a company that manages each of these aspects mean you will only have one firm to deal with and minimises the risk of potential complications. Creative touches designed to imbue your guests with the Christmas spirit could be as extravagant as waiters serving you whilst ice skating or Father Christmas flying in on his sleigh, to more subtle touches such as filling the air with the scent of pine garlands and cinnamon or a quartet playing festive pieces for the pre-dinner drinks.

Hosting a luxurious festive dinner party can be a fantastic jewel in the crown after a busy year
Offering the chance to enjoy an indulgent evening with friends and acquaintances while showing your home off to its best. No matter what your style and budget, the most important thing is to make sure it is an evening that not only your guests, but you yourself enjoy.

Michael Shaw is the founder of Franklin - Lifestyle Assistance, Household Management and Private Staffing: www.franklinlondon.com


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