Oktoberfest 2016

Come and join us at the Riverside Marquee as we raise a stein or two to celebrate the famous German Folk Festival. There will be plenty of beer, bratwurst and pretzels as well as some fun games and challenges. Of course there will be the traditional German oompah music as well. Entry is £6 per person and includes a stein for the afternoon which we will fill up for you on arrival. The bar will be fully open so if you’re not a fan of beer there will be plenty of other options. So why not grab your friends and get your self down to the Riverside Marquee and have a beer with us!

Riverside MarqueeOktoberfest
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Party Planner Checklist

We all look forward to parties. Those nights where we can forget about the stresses of work and just have a good time. However the food and the entertainment do not just turn up at random, they need to be booked! This is where organisaiton comes into play. Planning a party makes sure that the good times keep on rolling. To take some stress out of planning a party, we have put together a small timeline to follow when putting together your perfect shindig. We can’t promise that it will help everything go off without a hitch, but we think it will help.

One Month To Go

  • Book your venue – You can’t have a party without a venue! It is important to make sure that you understand the size of your venue compared to how many people you are thinking of inviting. Make sure you ask the venue organisers how many people it can fit, and their opening and closing times.
  • Book in any help – You can’t do it all yourself! Ask for help from friends and family and make sure they have your party in their calander. You must also make sure that any catering companies or waiters or any paid help is booked with their respective companies.
  • Book your entertainment – Book your entertainment when you have secured your venue. Two weeks until the party should be the minimum amount of time. Try to match your entertainment with the kind of party you wish to have, for instance if you are having a dinner party you dont want a rave DJ… unless you’re re-writing the rules of fine dining.

Three Weeks To Go

  • Make an invitation list – It’s not a party unless there are guests! Try to invite 20% more people than you can fit, because the chances are around 20%-30% will not be able to make it to your party.
  • Pick a Menu – If you are having dinner served at your party, you should probably pick a menu. This menu can then be sent out with your invitations so that your guests can respond with their desired dish. Be wary of dietry choices, as well as allergies.
  • Send your invitations – There are so many ways that you can send your invitations thanks to the innovations of technology! Despite the speed of e-mails, it is always nice to recieve a hand written invitation to RSVP too.
  • Book any extras or props – If your party has a theme, you’re going to want to book some props to set the mood and atmosphere of your party. It is important to get the props booked as quickly as possible to ensure that they are available for your chosen date.

Two Weeks To Go

  • Check the playlists your DJ/Entertainment has chosen – Doesn’t hurt to be sure. This will give you the ability to veto any songs that you really dont like/aren’t appropriate for the party.
  • Check RSVP responses – Check how many people have responded, and send any extra enquiries to anyone who hasn’t yet replied

One Week To Go

  • Double check your bookings – There is nothing wrong with checking your bookings, as there can be things that go wrong. By checking your bookings, you are actively ensuring that your party is on track.
  • Create table plan – If you have seating at your party, you might want to create a table plan based off the responses to your invitations.

Date Of Party

  • Get to the venue early – It is always a good plan to get to your venue early to start preparations.
  • Place name cards on tables based on table plan – Only necessary if you have seating.
  • Check decorations – Make sure that all the props and decorations are placed how you want them to be.
  • Get a clear time for when food will be being served – It is good to know when food will be being served so you can have a clear plan for the party.
  • Greet guests – Greeting guests with a smiling face always sets a great tone for the party.
  • Have fun! – This is your party! Make sure you enjoy it!

Sometimes planning a party can be stressful, and you might need a little help. At the Riverside Marquee we have a party planner on hand to help you through every step to ensure that your party is a complete success!

If you would like more information about how we can help you with your perfect party, then please feel free to give us a call on 01628 762700 or visit our enquiry page.

Riverside MarqueeParty Planner Checklist
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Alternative Ideas For Entertaining Wedding Guests

Choosing the right kind of entertainment for a wedding can be quite a task. Catering for different tastes in music and ensuring everyone, from young to old, is going to find the entertainment entertaining can be a tricky balancing act.

There is a debate over what form of wedding entertainment is better, the classic small band playing covers, or the DJ that can play more up to date music. However, why stick to the tried and tested classics when there are so many alternative entertainment options available that will help you make your wedding the most talked about event of the year.

Traditional Wedding Entertainment…With a Twist…

Add a touch of spice to your live music

One of the best things about having a band play at your wedding is that the personalities of each band member come out in the performance. This infectious energy extends to the wedding guests encouraging even those not prone to dancing to get up and join in the fun on the dance floor.

However, why stick to the the traditional choice of a covers band. If you want to add a bit of spice to your wedding, why not try a more exotic take on the live band? The drums of a salsa or samba band is sure to get everyone feeling the carnival spirit and grabbing a partner to get up and shake their stuff on the dance floor.

Samba Drums

Be your own DJ

Having a DJ play at your wedding is the perfect inexpensive way to ensure that there is something for everyone. DJs can work in small spaces, so there’s no need to sacrifice space that could be used for extra table places or a larger dance floor.

With a DJ you also have the opportunity to play a diverse range of music to suit all guests without the rest breaks that live musicians need.

If you don’t think a DJ could mix the right songs, why not try your own hand at it? The iPod changed the wedding DJ game allowing people to be a DJ without all the kit that goes with it. Creating your own wedding playlist could add that extra personal feeling to your wedding day.

Alternative Ways to Entertain Wedding Guests

Silent Disco

All the fun of a DJ without the noise! Issue those guests who want to dance with headphones where the DJ plays music directly into their ears. Entertaining not only for those dancing but for those guests sitting and watching as family and friends dance to tunes only they can hear. Perfect entertainment for venues where noise might be an issue, or when you wish to extend the party in the small hours without disturbing other guests.

Comedy Show

Create a wedding with a smile and hire an after-dinner comedian. This is a great way to allow guests to relax and digest their meal before hitting the dance floor later on in the evening.

Casino Night

The happy couple were lucky enough to meet the partner of their dreams so why not share some of that luck with the guests? Adding some ‘just for fun’ blackjack and roulette tables allows guests time away from the dance floor where they can try their luck. A nice twist on this theme might be to create some small gifts or prizes that the winners can take home at the end of the night.

Singing Waiters

A waiter’s main job is to ensure that all the guests are fed and watered, but some staff can offer so much more than simply re-filling drinks glasses. Catering by a company that offers singing waiters is a great idea, providing your guests with unexpected but very memorable moments of pure musical theatre.

Funny Photo Booth

Memories of your wedding are captured in the photos you and your guests take. That said, not every guest will have the honour of joining your wedding album. A photo booth allows your guests to get together, make some new friends, and take some silly pictures that they can laugh about together. Add a dressing up box to the mix to make for some extra special photos?

Bride and groom in photobooth. Wedding.

Living Hedges

Your guests will be in for a shock when the all too lifelike hedges in the Riverside Marquee’s garden suddenly begin to walk, talk, and serve drinks! The hedges are actually actors in costume and will add a shock factor to your wedding that you can be sure hasn’t been seen by your guests before.

Children’s Entertainment

One of the best ways to keep kids quiet is to keep them entertained. Thankfully, children are usually easy to engage when it comes to bouncy castles and soft play areas. The Riverside Marquee has access to over 16 acres of land for you to utilise, giving you space to include any additional extras such as bouncy castles or even ball pits! If you want your children to be part of your ceremony but don’t know how to include them, why not give our ‘Wedding Questions’ blog a read?

childen on bouncy castle

Garden Games

If the weather is good, then getting outside in the fresh air is something everyone will enjoy. Adding in some giant garden games adds a little light hearted sport to your wedding and gives everyone a reason to enjoy the scenery. Choose from larger versions of favourites such as jenga, chess, and connect 4,or quaint English classics such as quoits, cricket and croquet.

At The Riverside Marquee, we cater to whatever entertainment you decide is perfect for your wedding, we have a space specifically for a band to play, a huge manicured lawn, riverfront access and much more. To discuss wedding reception entertainment, please call us on 01628 762700 or use our enquiry form.

Riverside MarqueeAlternative Ideas For Entertaining Wedding Guests
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Wedding Colour Schemes and Moods

When designing your dream wedding, one of the most important things to keep in mind is your colour scheme. The colour of your flowers, table decorations, lighting and wedding outfits all work together to convey the emotions of your special day.

With so many colours to choose from, the task of settling for just one or two can sometimes seem daunting.  Here’s the Riverside Marquee guide to choosing your wedding colour scheme to help create the right mood for your wedding ceremony and reception.


Moods – Innocence, peace, comfort

bride in a white wedding dress with white roses

White is the classic wedding look.  Traditional white radiates the beauty of the bride and shows the world that this is a new start to her life. White allow you to independently shine, whilst remaining understated and elegant.


Moods – Warmth, quiet, luxury

Closeup ivory cloth for wedding dress with pearl' beads pattern

Ivory is a softer white and a popular choice for a wedding dress as it is flattering to most skin tones. Like white, it radiates a calm demeanour but is a lot warmer and softer than a pure white.


Moods – Passion, excitement, confidence

bride and groom with red shoes and socks and a bouqet of red flowers

Red is the colour of fire and passion and is always exciting to see. It portrays you as a confident partnership and demonstrates your enthusiasm for a new chapter in your life. This colour is sure to demonstrate your energy and love for life.


Moods – Happiness, intellect, imagination

yellow wedding bouquet laid on a concrete stairs

Yellow is the colour of happiness so your wedding guests can’t help but smile when they open the doors to your wedding and feel the warmth it radiates. Yellow brings a sense of creativity and is always an exciting pairing with other colours.


Moods – Optimism, motivation, enthusiasm

Beautiful orange Wedding Flower Arrangements Along the Aisle

Orange is a colour that ensures your wedding guests understand that you want them to have fun whilst they take part in the greatest day of your life. This warm and happy colour is sure to keep your guests chatting away and enjoying the social atmosphere it creates.


Moods – Calm, nature, unity

Groom in a green shirt with a wedding bouquet in his hands

Green is the colour of unity and always evokes a peaceful environment that your wedding goers are sure to love. Although it is a choice that many people overlook, green is the colour that gives your wedding the final touch and brings everything together for your special day.


Moods – Calm, safety, peace

chairs with blue sash and yellow flowers

Loved by many people around the world for the calmness that it radiates, blue evokes trust and devotion which is why it is the perfect colour for a small ceremony surrounded by friends and family. Navy blue is also a fantastic alternative to a black suit, as it is softer and a fantastic match with softer whites such as ivory and eggshell.


Moods – Happiness, confidence, balance

Champagne wedding clothing in turquoise and white with bow

Turquoise is a refreshing take on the standard blue variations and brings an harmonious balance between the masculine and feminine coming together in the wedding ceremony. As well as a sense of balance, turquoise also emits a friendly and happy mood that is sure to put some smiles on the faces of your guests.


Moods – Love, passion, understanding

pink wedding

Pink is a fantastic colour for portraying the same message as the colour red but with a softer tone that blends better with other colours. Pink is an exceptionally positive colour and portrays a strength and sophistication.  When blended with darker colours such as navy blue, grey and darker greens you can achieve some stunning schemes that set your wedding off beautifully.


Moods – Femininity, purity, elegance

Silver gray writing paper or invitations with envelopes laid on bridal lace with several wedding gifts and white rose bouquets. Space for copy.

Silver is a dignified and elegant alternative to a dull grey.  An understated colour of luxury, silver shows your creative and imaginative side as it reflects the emotions of the colours it is paired with.

At the Riverside Marquee we make it our mission to ensure that your wedding day is as perfect as you always imagined it to be.  We always work to ensure your colour scheme tells the story of your wedding in the most amazing way.

If you would like to enquire about The Riverside Marquee for your wedding, or any other occasion, then please feel free to give us a call on 01628 762700 or use our contact form.

Riverside MarqueeWedding Colour Schemes and Moods
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Bray’s Easter Eggstravaganza

We are very excited to announce that we will be hosting Bray’s Easter Eggstravaganza on Saturday 26th March. We are offering a fun packed afternoon of Easter activities for the little ones, delicious street food stalls and refreshments. A great way to kick off the Easter weekend with all the family. We hope you can make it. Easter PP


Riverside MarqueeBray’s Easter Eggstravaganza
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Team building events to banish the Winter blues

After the excitement of the run up to Christmas, the early months of the New Year can be a quiet time for everyone in the office with the Winter blues taking a hold on your team’s mood. Sometimes all the office needs is a day to look forward to where everyone can take their mind off work and really focus on enjoying themselves.

This is where the Riverside Marquee has exactly what you need to host some fabulous and fun team building activities that will place the spring back in everyone’s step.  Our fantastic marquee is set in 15 acres of stunning landscaped gardens situated right next to the River Thames at Bray.  This allows us to host a whole load of team building events guaranteed to put the smile back on the face of everyone in your office.

Bubble Football

bubble football

Everyone is talking about how much fun this bouncy sport is. The concept is simple – each member of the two teams wear a bouncy protective ball around their body before launching into a game of football. The catch is that there really aren’t any rules. With the protective plastic bubble ball surrounding the players, you can bash into each other as much as you wish! This is sure to get some smiles back in the workplace as you try to tackle the opposition, or show off your Lionel Messi skills.

Brazilian Samba Drumming

Brazilian Samba Drumming

Nothing gets the blood pumping more than the sound of passionate samba drumming. This truly is one of the most remarkable events that we run here at the Riverside Marquee. The music will inspire everyone to get involved and pick up an instrument, it may even get a few people dancing! This is perfect for injecting some excitement into your days!

Dragon Boat Racing

team building dragon boat racing

The dragon boat race is a traditional Chinese race that involves eight people racing in purpose built boats with dragons at the helm. This event is a real team effort, with everyone giving it their all to try and reach the goal first. With the Riverside Marquee being right next to the River Thames there’s no need for you to have to worry about outsourcing your event planning to a range of companies. Our facilities and on-site catering ensures that your team building days run as smoothly as possible. Why not separate the teams into your businesses internal structure? That could make for some fierce office competition and help your group work better together in the workplace!


team building archery

Slow breath. Tightened string. Bow raised. Bullseye! Archery is one of the oldest forms of weaponry that is still used today, and it is a fantastic way of injecting some healthy competition into your team. There is something extremely satisfying about taking your time and nailing the centre of the target. You can really get a feel for Medieval England, as you take in the sights and smells before declaring yourself the best shot in the office.

Bungee Run & Bouncy Castle

bungee run team building

These two are a bit of fun for the big kids. Bouncing on air is just as much fun as it sounds! If kids enjoy it, why can’t you? The bungee run consists of you being in a harness that is attached with a bungee cord to a bouncy castle. The aim is simple, try to make it to the end of the run and press the button. The bungee run is great for mixing competition with light hearted fun and the bouncy castle will install some childishness into your day.

These are just a select few of the many team building days that we offer. If you are interested in getting a smile back in your office, or want to instill some teamwork back into your colleagues, then please feel free to give us a call on 01628 762700 to arrange a viewing.

Riverside MarqueeTeam building events to banish the Winter blues
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Questions You Forgot To Ask Your Wedding Planner

When you are planning your wedding, you are likely to have thousands of questions running through your mind all at once. Unfortunately some of these questions can get lost during preparations because more pressing matters may be at hand. Here is our handy guide to questions that you may ask yourself when you are planning your wedding.

Why are weddings important?

You may be asking yourself why the whole day is even that important. We can wholeheartedly tell you that your wedding day is one of, if not the most, special days in your whole life. It’s one of those rare and precious occasions that brings so many people together for the sole purpose of celebrating two people’s love for each other. After all, what is a wedding without being able to share this love with your family and friends?

Why Do The Bride & Groom Give Each Other Rings?

The idea behind the ring is that love has no beginning and it has no end. A wedding ring is to symbolise eternal love and is placed on the aptly named “ring finger” of the left hand. People used to believe that this finger was the only one that contained a direct vein to the heart.

Do I Have to Follow Wedding Traditions?

No, you do not have to follow wedding traditions if you do not want to. Traditions are usually followed because of religion or culture, but that does not mean you cannot have exactly what you want on your special day. An example of tradition that is not always followed is that you and your partner must read traditional vows. This does not have to be the case if you have thought up your own. Speak to your planner about how you can tailor traditions into your wedding, and maybe ways that you can tweak their ideas to make your wedding more unique and personal to you.

Do I Need a Wedding Rehearsal? And If So Who Should Attend?

Wedding rehearsals are not a fundamental part of planning a wedding and are only really necessary if your wedding involves a lot of moving around, or if the order of procession is slightly different because of your environment. That said, rehearsals are a great way of ensuring that everyone knows what they need to do when the special day comes around and ironing out any problems that might arise before your big day.  Wedding rehearsals usually involve the newlyweds, the parents, the officiant and the wedding party.

Group Of Bridesmaids Blowing Bubbles In Garden

I Want To Include My Children In My Wedding, What Wedding Roles Can They Fill?

Children have played a vital part in weddings for years and years, whether it be as a cute bridesmaid or the young boy who giggles when the happy couple share their first kiss.

There are a variety of roles that a child can fill and it never hurts to be creative. Children are usually just delighted to be involved! Roles such as table entertainer, or Flower-Hander-Outer can be made up especially for young ones and it will keep them occupied and out of trouble. If you have an older child, or you want them to play a more traditional part in your wedding, these are other more formal roles they can fill:

  • Ring Bearer
  • Flower Girl
  • Bridesmaid
  • Usher/Groomsman

What Do I Say In My Wedding Toast?

Wedding toasts can be tricky as you will have all eyes on you when you are telling the story of your love. Wedding toasts generally change depending on the person doing the speech, for example the best man’s speech is usually funny, lighthearted and intended to show their friendship with the groom.

If you are having trouble with your wedding toast, then try to remember why you love your partner so much and why everyone is here to see you get married. Maybe tell the story of how you met your partner? Where you first realised you were in love? Stories like these tend to get a good reaction. Above all remember that, no matter how nervous you are, everyone watching is behind you 100% and that the odd slip up is okay.

When planning a wedding, it can be easy to forget about the little things. These have been a few small answers to some of your unanswered wedding questions. If you would like some more information about the Riverside Marquee and how we can make sure your wedding is as special as possible, then please feel free to contact us on 01628 762700.

Riverside MarqueeQuestions You Forgot To Ask Your Wedding Planner
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Wedding Planning Checklist

Your big day is on it’s way, yet getting everything ready for your wedding celebrations is quite a task in itself. Make sure your day goes without a hitch (apart from yours) with our wedding planning checklist which runs through the logistics of creating the perfect wedding.

Find someone to marry.

We cannot help with that particular task, so we will assume that side of things is already sorted.

12 months to go

Set you budget (and try to keep to it!)

Set your budget and have discuss costs with relevant people. Get any awkward conversations about setting the budget out the way first and foremost and work out what you’re going to spend where spend where.

Choose a reception venue and book it.

Create a shortlist and view your preferred wedding reception venues. Make provisional bookings for the date you want with venues you can’t decide between. When your final decision is made cancel provisional bookings and confirm in writing to the venue of your choice.

Book the ceremony venue (and registrar).

This might be in a church, temple, synagogue, meeting house, approved venue or registry office.  In many cases the ceremony and reception venue are one in the same which can really help with logistics of the day.

Create your provisional guest list.

Make sure you don’t exceed the venue capacity (although some may not be able to attend so have a few guests on standby).

Send invites to let everyone know your wedding date and to get final numbers.

Get invites out early to make sure your guests can reserve the date in their diaries.  Include information on overnight accommodation, transport, parking and any dress code if appropriate. Include reply cards to ensure they all RSVP and ask your guests if they have any specific dietary requirements. Chase up non-responders after a month to ensure there are no hiccups with too many attendees.

11 months to go

Create a revised guest list.

You can get seating plans sorted now if you like (these can always be revised nearer the date as needed).

Choose the bridesmaids and best man.

You know who they are. Don’t let anyone else have a say on this. Make sure you assign roles early as you’ll find their advice and support is vital throughout the planning process.

If you want fancy transport, book it now.

Hint, classic cars are beautiful but are temperamental – make sure there is a transport plan B just in case!

Book your musicians or DJ.

Live music is so much better than a disco but can cost considerably more. Think about when and how you want music played throughout the reception.

Choose and book a photographer/videographer

Check their online portfolios and make sure you meet them before making your final choice. It’s important they understand you, After all, they are responsible for capturing your memories of the day.  Look for someone whose portfolio matches the style of photo you want (traditional, contemporary, relaxed, reportage).

10 months to go

Decide on a theme.

Check out Pinterest and magazines for inspiration. Also speak to the event planners at your venue. Having seen many weddings they’re likely to be able to throw a few more good ideas into the pot.

Start looking for a wedding dress.

Online shopping is OK, but nothing beats the bespoke service of a good local boutique. If you are going bespoke then you’ll need to give them at least 6 months for completion time and alterations. Don’t forget to buy any shoes and accessories to co-ordinate you overall look.

Book your caterers and decide on your menu.

Speak to your caterers about menu choices and book a tasting to help you decide on your final menu. Think about your guests dietary requirements and any allergies and make sure they are communicated to the caters well in advance.

9 months to go

Decide whether you want a Town Crier/Master of Ceremonies or not.

Having a master of ceremonies or can add a bit of traditional charm to your wedding day and help keep the day on track and on time.

If you haven’t already done it, buy/order your wedding dress.

Don’t forget to order shoes, tiara, veil and other accessories to co-ordinate your overall look.

Order your wedding cake.

Or what about a cup cake tower, or French croquembouche?

Choose and book your florist.

From the bridal bouquet, to table decorations, button holes and dressing the ceremony and reception venue, fresh flowers help create a mood and compliment your theme.

Wedding flowers

Book your honeymoon.

This is the fun bit. Plan for the best holiday of your life. Find somewhere you can relax, but that also offers activities that both you and your new spouse can enjoy together. Remember, this holiday is going to provide some of your most precious memories for life.

Choose the bridesmaids dresses and hire or buy suits for the groom, best man and ushers

Remember, bridesmaids should never outshine the bride.

6 months to go

Book in the brides hairdressing and make-up session.

Speak to a few stylists and give yourself time to try a few styles to make sure you’re happy with the final look. For many brides this is just as important as the dress. Don’t forget to take your tiara, veil or other hair accessories with you.

Bridal hairstyle with flowers

Buy your wedding rings.

You will be wearing them for a lifetime, so make sure they are a good fit.

Choose the readings, poems, hymns etc.

Let the readers know your choices and make sure they are happy with them.

Agree the order of service and vows with your vicar or registrar and your partner.

A surprisingly important part of the day.

3 months to go

Set up your gift list.

Or be daring and don’t bother with one (but you might end up with three toasters!)

Have your dress fittings/alterations.

Make sure this is done leaving plenty of time for final adjustments.

Buy gifts for your bridal party.

It is definitely the thought that counts and will be something they can remember your big day by for many years to come.

Write the speeches.

Make sure they are appropriate for the audience. Adjust accordingly.

Make arrangements for your hen and stag parties

Enlist the help of your best man and chief bridesmaid.

1 month to go

Chase any outstanding RSVP’s and finalise seating plans

Confirm final numbers and details with the catering company and the reception venue.
It’s worth worth having a face-to-face meeting a week or two before the big day to finalise arrangements and iron out any questions you might have.

Pay all final balances.

Make sure all your suppliers are happy.

1 week to go

Hand over contact details of your suppliers to a designated person

You’ve got other things to worry about on your big day than chasing late suppliers, or dealing with problems that crop up. Appoint a trusted member of the wedding party with details of your suppliers and brief them on your plans for the day so they can help out with chasing where necessary.

Collect the wedding dress and grooms outfit.

Don’t forget to arrange the return of hired items after the wedding.

Start wearing in your wedding shoes

There’s nothing worse then a pair of uncomfortable shoes.

Have any hair or beauty treatments

Tanning treatments, facials, hair colouring and cutting, waxing – get all these done a few days in advance of your wedding.

Start packing for your honeymoon

Make sure well in advance that you have everything you need for your holiday of a lifetime. Now is a good time to also make sure you also have all the currency you need for your time away.

bride and groom

1 day to go

Relax and don’t panic

With your careful planning and choice of suppliers everything should be well in hand for your special day. It’s important that you spend today relaxing and enjoying time with family and friends.

Have your last minute beauty preparations

Book a relaxing massage and have a manicure done last thing in the afternoon to avoid chip and breaks before tomorrow.

Get an early night

Because tomorrow is your big day and most importantly it’s time for you to ENJOY YOUR WEDDING

Have we missed something important off the list? Get in touch to share your thoughts and suggestions for planning the perfect wedding.

Riverside MarqueeWedding Planning Checklist
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Planning the Perfect Company Christmas Party

The company Christmas party is so much more than an excuse for a drink with work colleagues. A good party can cement friendships, encourage team development and actually improve the company’s future profitability. So, lets make this year’s part the best ever.

Whilst the task can seem at first daunting, by following our guide to planning the perfect company Christmas party the end result is sure to get everyone in the festive spirit.

1. Set the date

Christmas is a busy time of year and diaries fill up fast with social events. The best venues get booked early so it’s also important to secure the date you want with them as soon as possible.

This might mean booking early in the year in order to secure your spot prior to Christmas. You could also consider holding your Christmas party in January (many companies do this) for more flexibility with dates and to beat the post-Christmas blues.

Once you have your date, send out a “save the date” email to everyone asking them to keep the date free. You can also use this as an opportunity for finding out dietary requirements and allergies.

2. And your budget

If you are not the holder of the purse strings, find out in advance how much the company is willing to spend per head. Be careful of falling into the trap of being asked to research everything first, only to be told that it’s out of budget once all the hard work has been done.

Get a clear idea of how much you have to spend. Then allocate this to the items you’ll need to make your party go with a swing; the band, the food and drink, the venue, the entertainment, decorations etc.

Allocating a price per head, can make the party planning easier. Particularly when many venues offer set Christmas party packages that tick many aspects of party planning off your to-do list; venue hire, food and drinks, entertainment and decorations. This is ideal when planning large scale company parties.

Whether you’re handling all aspects yourself, or outsourcing party planning, remember to leave some money aside to cover any unexpected costs.

3. Book your venue

Good venues fill up fast, so you need to move quickly to secure the date you want with the venue of your choice.

  • Do your initial research on-line looking for venues that are available, within budget and that are easy-to-get-to for your guests.
  • Look for something a little unusual that will provide the Wow factor to your party.
  • Talk to the events team at the venue – they’ll be able to answer any questions and provide ideas for your party.
  • Visit the venue to make sure it meets all your needs – capacity, layout, location, parking, furniture, equipment etc.
  • Provisionally book the venue if necessary, but confirm your final choice in writing as soon as possible after making your decision.

4. Decide on your Christmas party theme

If the venue does not already offer a theme, choosing one for your party helps add an element of fun and provides a central idea on which to hang the rest of your planning such as the décor, entertainment and catering. Use magazines websites and even high street shop displays for inspiration, or enlist the help of a professional event planner to get creative for you.

Popular themes are to go formal, with black tie and evening gowns, or vintage by choosing an era and asking guests to dress accordingly (e.g. the 1950s, 60s, 70s or 80s).

Or you could simply opt for fun themes such as the wild west, a night at the circus, winter wonderland, a night in Marrakech, or a music and film genres.

Once you’ve chosen your theme you’ll find lots of ideas start flowing for tailoring your party. What’s more your guests can get in the party spirit beforehand with planning and comparing what they’ll be wearing to your event.

4. Put on a good spread

This is a night to say thank you to staff for their hard work over the year so do the best you can with the budget available.

Whilst it’s a Christmas party, that doesn’t mean you have to stick to a traditional Christmas menu of Turkey and all the trimmings. Be creative, ask for advice from your event planners or venue caterers. If you have a theme, try and match what you serve with this.

It’s not unusual for many venues to offer a menu with a number of options for starter, main and desert. But don’t forget if you offer menu options, your guests will need to confirm their choices beforehand to help your party run smoothly.

Within the menu make sure you have a couple of options for anyone with food allergies and above all, don’t forget the vegetarians.

If catering for a large group with a bespoke menu, request a menu tasting to check that it delivers on taste and quality.

5. Help guests get into the festive spirit

No party is complete without a few Christmas drinks. When planning your party think about what drinks are covered within your budget. Pre-ordering welcome drinks on arrival and with the meal is a good way of ensuring everyone gets their fair share, without blowing the budget. Whereas if money is no object then simply pay for what is consumed on the night. Alternatively provide drinks vouchers for all guests so that they have the choice of what they consume.

Remember to provide soft drinks for those driving and plenty of water on the table to help minimise sore heads the next day.

You may also want to consider how the drinks are served. To avoid long queues at the bar a waiter service may be better for large parties. Whereas allowing guests to help themselves from drinks dotted around the venue may be better suited to smaller gatherings.

6. Book your entertainment

It’s the end of a long year and your guests are looking for the opportunity to let their hair down and have fun. Selecting the right entertainment for your Christmas party is crucial to helping your guests relax and enjoy themselves.


Whether this is a DJ, a live band or both, make sure you choose something that will suit all tastes and encourage your guests to strut their stuff on the dance floor. Mix up your playlist with guaranteed floor fillers and Christmas favourites. Check that the lighting rig and sound system flows to the areas of the party you want it to reach.


To help break the ice and get the party started you may want to organise some entertainment.   Getting this right can elevate a good night, to one that is remembered and talked about for weeks to come. Popular options include live performers such as circus acts, magicians and comedians; activities such as casino tables, cocktail making and murder mysteries; or entertainers that work the room such as magicians and caricaturists.

Many venues and event planners will already have relationships with trusted suppliers, so it’s worth speaking to them to help source those that are suitable for your party and the venue space.

7. Organise thank you speeches

Christmas parties are a means of thanking staff for their work and support over the year, and as such a short speech made by the MD or Director is a good way of delivering this sentiment to everyone.

Decide in advance who should deliver this, and make sure they have plenty of time to prepare a short thank you speech for delivery during the evening. If there are particular individuals for thanking or recognition, make sure gifts or awards are ready and at the venue to be handed out at the appropriate time.

As Christmas parties have a tendency to get a little more rowdy as the evening wears on, it’s a good idea to schedule the speech for a time when it’ll be heard (and not heckled). If it’s being delivered to a large group you will also want to make sure a microphone is on hand so that everyone can hear.

8. Send out invitations

When you have finalised details of your party make sure everyone knows about it well in advance so they can get the date in the diary, organise outfits and book hotels, babysitters and transport.

Within your invitation include details of:

  • The party date, when it starts and ends
  • The party theme
  • Dress code for the evening
  • Who to RSVP to and by when
  • The venue location and details of how to get there, nearby hotels and local taxi firms
  • Menu options with details of when and who to send final food choices to
  • Who to notify of any dietary requirements
  • Organised transport and how to book a place on this

9.  Add a little Christmas magic

A few well thought out extras can add a sprinkle of Christmas magic to your party, providing guests with some memorable experiences. Little touches might include:

  • Purchasing a small Christmas gift for each guest left at their table place, or organising a visit from Santa to hand out presents.
  • Hiring a photographer (or photobooth) to capture professional shots of the evening.
  • Leaving a few small games scattered around tables to help guests start mingling and having fun.
  • Decorating each table with flowers, candles and decorations to match your theme.

10. Create a buzz of anticipation

As the date gets closer start building the anticipation for your Christmas party with a series wall posters or emails to create a sense of growing excitement. Be careful not to give away too many secrets! Keep some under your hat to surprise and delight guests on the night.

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