A December to Remember: How to Plan a Holiday Party that’s Worth People’s Time

The holidays are the perfect opportunity to tie your organization to a special celebration or tradition, but there’s a lot of competition in getting your audiences to commit their time, money and energy to your event. 

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

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

Venues book up fast this time of year, 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. And, remember to prepare for any weather or other unforeseen circumstances that might affect your plans. 

Once you’ve locked in the basics, it’s important to conduct some market research to understand the types of events you will be competing against:

When you understand what your event is up against, you can tailor your event by offering a unique differentiator to your audience, such as a theme, special activity or exclusive sale. This will be key in persuading your audience to register for your holiday event and should be emphasized in any marketing or promotions. 

Photo by Santacon, Flickr.

Holiday Event Themes and Activities

A themed event provides an anchor for planning your event and point of difference. So work with a team to brainstorm some holiday centric themes or entertainment you might offer as a way to entice your audiences and bring energy to your event.

Be mindful of how any activities or themes could impact who you may or may not attract to your event. If you’re hosting an event for a very general audience, your event may be more successful if you stray away from religious traditions. However, incorporating these elements could be beneficial if they align with your audience’s values. 

Here are some themes and activities for inspiration: 

If successful, your holiday event 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 have positive associations with the brand and those tied to it. 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 to win a prize or receive a special gift or 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 as well as encourage others. Ensure you have the ability to add donation options with your ticket sales. 

Sales and Discounts:
Early bird sales are an effective way to boost ticket sales and 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 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 Event

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.

A Complete Event Planning Checklist

Planning an event can be an exciting but daunting task. Whether you’re planning a fundraiser, corporate conference or a private gathering, making your event a success requires meticulous planning. 

Below, we offer a complete checklist to help you plan and execute a memorable and successful event. 

Pre-Planning: 4-6 Months Before the Event 

Before diving into the details, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of your event’s purpose and objectives. Ask yourself what you aim to achieve with this event. Are you raising funds for a cause, celebrating a milestone, or launching a product? Consider who the right people are to help achieve those goals – think: partners, vendors, sponsors, staff, volunteers, etc. Having the right people in place and clearly defining your objectives sets the tone for the rest of the planning and process. 

In this stage, be sure to: 

Get the Ball Rolling: 3-4 Months Before the Event

At this point, the event date is set and you should be rolling full steam ahead with planning. It’s important to secure partnerships, such as sponsors and collaborators, early on. These relationships will help amplify your event promotions as you build interest and anticipation for your event. Consider hosting early bird sales to lock in audiences that are already engaged with you. These folks can also help spread the word about your event. 

In this stage, you’ll need to: 

Ramp up Sales and Promotions: 1-2 Months Before the Event

It’s time to spread the news far and wide about your event. Finalize and use event details, such as partnerships or novel experiences, to pique interest and build interest in your event. Tease your audiences with news about what they can expect and encourage those who have already committed to refer others to your event. 

During this phase, it’s important to:

Tie Up Loose Ends: 1-3 Weeks Before the Event

The last month leading up to your event is your chance to make sure all of your ducks are in a row. Start thinking about what your event will look like from start to finish, run it by all who are involved and ensure you have all the people and mechanisms in place to execute it successfully. Additionally, if your ticket sales have become stagnant and you’re worried about attendance, it may be time to consider last-minute sales or promotions. 

During this time period, complete the following: 

The Calm Before the Storm: 1 Day Before the Event

Today is the culmination of all of your preparation, when all the pieces come together to show the exact potential of the event you’ve been planning. During set-up, work closely with your event stylists to create a cohesive and visually appealing atmosphere that matches the theme and purpose of your event. Pay attention to details like table settings, lighting, signage, and seating arrangements to enhance the overall experience.

To prepare:

It’s Showtime: the Day of the Event

Take a deep breath. The day you’ve been preparing for is finally here. And because of your careful planning, you’re ready for it. On the day of the event, coordinate with your team and vendors to ensure everything runs smoothly. Assign someone to manage logistics, oversee the schedule, and handle any unexpected issues that may arise. Be prepared to adapt and make quick decisions as needed.

Follow-Up: 1 Week After the Event

After the event, be sure to show gratitude to all of your attendees, partners and vendors while the experience is still fresh in their minds. This is important to preserve trusting, working relationships. Use your follow-up as an opportunity to gather feedback from everyone involved. This information will help you evaluate the success of your event, identify areas for improvement, and allow you to make informed decisions for future events.

Within the a week of your event, consider the following:

Post-Event Analysis: 1 Month After the Event

After you’ve had some time to decompress, take time to look back on the experience, measure your success and identify any lessons learned. What you determine in this phase will go towards improving events for years to come. 

During your post-event analysis, be sure to: 

Planning a successful event requires careful preparation, attention to detail, and effective teamwork. By following this comprehensive guide, you can create an event that not only meets its objectives but leaves a lasting impression on your attendees. 

Remember that flexibility and adaptability are key, as unexpected challenges are a part of event planning. But through dedication, trusting partnerships and the right planning strategies, you can host a memorable and successful event.

Minimize Lines and Maximize Ticket Sales with Timed-Access Event Ticketing

As we look toward a season of haunted houses, corn mazes and holiday pop-ups, it’s important for event managers to consider how to organize their crowd flow to maximize ticket sales across the duration of the event and avoid bottlenecks at check-in. 

Enter timed-access ticketing, a feature on Ticketbud that enables event organizers to allow entry to a specific number of ticket holders during allocated time slots. This prevents everyone from showing up at once, which can cause issues with capacity restrictions, create long delays and lead to having to ask attendees to come back at another time. It also ensures the entire event runs more smoothly, creating a safe and enjoyable experience for all.

Benefits of timed access for attendees:

Benefits of timed access for event organizers:

“The Ticketbud team was a great support helping us create timed access ticket programming with scheduled drive-thru times. By limiting the number of vehicles able to enter each hour, attendees could secure their time and plan their evening without everyone turning up at once. This new programming helps us distribute and maximize tickets over our five-week event.”  

Teri Smart, VP of Marketing at Forefront Networks, which produces the Austin Trail of Lights.

Below you can see an example event pages offering multiple time slots for events. Check out this video for a more detailed view on how organizers can set up their profiles and events with timed-access ticketing.

Ticketbud’s event page calendar makes multi-day timed-entry ticketing much easier for ticket buyers to navigate to find the convenient date and time they need.

To learn more about working with Ticketbud visit the How It Works page.