Holiday party pandemonium season is almost upon us. With it comes an endless supply of helpful information about hosting your event, breathless articles diligently listing essentials and proper party etiquette for the perfect party. This is not one of those articles.
But will pulling off the perfect party leave you satisfied, or will it just serve as a temporary fix? I’m not suggesting that finding a larger purpose to your party will provide you eternal happiness, but holiday parties are a wonderful opportunity to focus on a good greater than our own desires — and have some fun doing it. It may be a bit harder, but totally worth it.
I am asking you to consider why you’re hosting your holiday party and use that answer to create a truly meaningful event.
There are many benefits of a party, having fun being the most obvious. Fun, however, is not an answer to the “why” question as much as it is a byproduct of a well-planned and thoughtful event. Hosting a party that will be both remembered and anticipated in future years is a hallmark of clever planning — and it doesn’t mean you need to spend a fortune either. The following are three great reasons to to host an event this year, creating a party that will satisfy your guests, focus out past our collective navels, and leave everyone feeling better for having attended.
Connection: Is the party primarily about building relationships and encouraging people who may not know each other to network and work together? How about inviting in a local sommelier, baker, or master cocktail maker and have that be the focal point of the evening? Give him or her an opportunity to become known to a wider audience. If you have the space — hold a cook off with teams. Better still, help a local storeowner and hold your event at the store. Include relevant information in your invitations such as a specific time the talk or special event will begin and a warning if guests may get dirty. If a competition is appropriate, consider a cook-off / bake-off / taste testing and team prizes.
Compassion: Celebrating a milestone achievement, the completion of a hard-fought community or company goal, or enthusiastically embracing a friend’s new endeavor are also great themes to build an event around. It can feel lonely risking leaving your job to pursue your passion or launching a new enterprise that could jeopardize all that you’ve accomplished. Your friend, co-worker or neighbor will be energized knowing they have the support and well-wishes of people important to them.
Charity: This is the “why” that initially attracted me to writing this holiday party article. Instead of another white elephant gift exchange, announce to your guests that a local or national children / youth / wildlife non-profit will be the beneficiary of your event. The list of potential charities is long, but goodnet.org/directory is a great place to start your search. Local charities would be better suited to guests bringing actual gifts while national organizations may be a better match to cash (check) donations. Many credit card companies also are making it easy for people to donate their miles. Invite everyone to place their donation on the gift table or under the tree. Every gift could equal one ticket for a drawing you hold during the night for a dinner out. Invite a member of the organization’s Executive Team and build your theme around their mission.
Inspired? Your guests will be too.