Event Management
November 3, 2023  •  by Rachel White

How to Plan a Holiday Party that’s Worth People’s Time

The end of the year brings on a frenzy of work parties, get-togethers, school events, holiday shopping and more. Creating an holiday party that breaks through all the noise takes careful planning and execution, with great consideration about your audiences’ time, preferences and needs. 

Getting Started with Holiday Party Planning

The sooner you can get on people’s calendars, the better. So, determine a date, budget and timeline for the holiday event and planning process, and quickly.

Remember, venues book up fast, with just a handful of Fridays and Saturdays to work with before the new year. You may need to consider other days or times that might work for your particular event and audience. Remember to prepare for any weather or other unforeseen circumstances that might affect your plans. 

After you’ve locked in you day, date and budget, it’s time to conduct market research. This will help you understand the types of events your holiday party will be competing against:

  • Check out community calendars and competitor’s websites for other holiday events.
  • Start a spreadsheet to record information about each event’s theme, target audiences, planned activities, ticket prices, etc. 
  • Review  the marketing of competing events, such as event websites, social media posts on and offline promotions.

When you understand what your holiday party is up against, you can consider offering a unique differentiator, such as a theme, special activity or exclusive sale. This will be key in persuading your audience to register for your holiday event. So, be sure to emphasize it in any marketing or promotions. 

Photo by Santacon, Flickr.

Holiday Event Themes and Activities

A themed event provides an anchor for planning your event. But, be mindful of how any activities or themes could impact who can attract to your event. For example, if you’re planning an event for a general audience, you may be more successful if you stray away from religious traditions. Incorporating these elements could be beneficial, however, if they align with your audience’s values. 

Here are some themes and activities for inspiration: 

  • Winter Wonderland 
  • Holiday Hoedown 
  • Holiday Movie Night or Series
  • A Light Show
  • Ugly Holiday Sweater Party
  • Pajama Party
  • Fun Runs or Polar Plunges
  • A Gift Exchange
  • Christmas Tree Auction 
  • A Visit from Santa
  • Black Tie NYE
  • Candle Making 
  • Christmas Cookie Bake Off
  • Holiday Bar Pop-up
  • Gingerbread House Competition 
  • Crafting Classes for Wreaths or Ornaments

If successful, the holiday party you plan may provide your organization brand power year after year. Take for example the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. For nearly a century, people have looked forward to the annual event; and thus, have positive associations with the brand and those tied to it. In fact, the three-hour holiday spectacle has become so successful over the years that companies will shell out $120,000-300,000 to  sponsor the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Boost Ticket Sales with Marketing and Promotions

Cross-channel marketing campaigns are a must when promoting any event. So, create a robust plan for direct invitations and email, social media promotion, digital and print advertising.

Reflect on your initial competitor’s analysis to evaluate successful ways you might market your holiday event. And remember, holidays are about cheer, giving and savings. So, consider how you might incorporate these elements within your promotional messaging. 

Themed Marketing Campaigns:
Get inspired by the traditional advent calendar or the “12 days of Christmas” to create a countdown to the event. Each day, you could host a giveaway, encourage engagement, share photos from past events or teasers for the upcoming event. 

Referral Codes and Gifts:
Incentivize people to invite friends, family, and contacts to your event. With Ticketbud, you can issue unique referral codes to those who’ve already registered for your event. Event organizers have the ability to track these codes. So, if the code is shared and used, the person who shared it could be entered in a raffle or receive a discount from the organizers. 

And while it’s fun to receive gifts, the holidays are a time for giving. Using ticket sales to raise money for a meaningful cause or local charity may also influence people to take part in the event. So, make sure you have the ability to add donation options with your ticket sales. 

Sales and Discounts:
Early bird sales are an effective way to get people to commit to your event before their calendar fills up. These sales are enticing because they offer discounted ticket rates for a limited amount of time, forcing the buyer to act fast.

To motivate a greater influx in sales ahead of your event, you might also incorporate specialty promotions in conjunction with Black Friday or Cyber Monday. For tips on hosting holiday sales, check out “Tis the Season to Save: Hosting Holiday Sales to Sell More Tickets to Your Events.

How Ticketbud Can Help Plan Your Holiday Party

Ticketbud allows event organizers to create a free event website and host registration for free and paid events. Our site offers a suite of ticketing and communication tools to make event coordination easier before, during, and after the event. 

The Ticketbud ticket editor can be used to create and sell a range of ticketing options, such as individual or group tickets, early bird or regular sale tickets, general admission or VIP tickets, and more. Organizers are also able to edit and automate sales timelines, so they can set it and forget it. 

Ticketbud also allows event organizers to communicate with attendees via email directly from the ticketing platform. Use it to send important information about venue access and check-in leading up to the event, or to issue thank you emails and gather feedback after the event. Learn more about how Ticketbud works and how we can help ease the stress of holiday event planning.