The festive season is upon us which means it's time to get on our glad rags and enjoy a good festive meal (or perhaps rather too much of it!). Two thirds of us apparently love going out for dinner with family over Christmas while over half of us head out for an evening with friends so it's good to know what makes a Christmas party a great success.
For those of you who've been allocated or volunteered as organiser this year, professsional party organiser Liz Taylor has come up with some top tips to bear in mind to make sure your festive bit of fun goes down swimmingly.
1. Start planning soon
Venues get booked up fast so think ahead. Mondays and Thursdays are often quieter days to book for restuarants if you think you might have left it too late. Sunday afternoons also make a great day for a family party as well as a less busy day for bookings and little ones can come along too.
If your favourite restaurant really is fully booked, consider switching to a 'twixtmas' party between Christmas and New Year instead.
2. Do your research on the venue
Once you've found a venue that fits the bill in terms of location, price and menu, make sure you check the hygiene rating of the restaurant. This can be easy to overlook but it's in fact one of the most important things to check out to make sure you have a happy, healthy and tasty meal that doesn't leave you feeling poorly the next day.
You can find out hygiene ratings online at www.food.gov.uk/ratings or, if you're out and about, by looking for the green and black sticker on the window. If you can't see one head inside and ask.
3. Think outside the box
If you want to give your Christmas meal that extra special feel, see if your favourite restaurant has any private rooms you can hire out.
You could also host your event in somewhere really quirky like a museum, galleries or even a steam train for that extra bit of Christmas magic.
4. What do your guests want?
Think about who you're inviting and they'd best like to spend their time. If you've children who've been on their toes running round after little ones, they may really appreciate a sit-down dinner with a nice class of wine. Call up your guests and see what they fancy doing, then go with the most popular response.
5. Create personalised invites
There's nothing quite like a handmade invitiation to make you feel special so get creative (perhaps with the help of your grandchildren) to make some festive invites. You could design them in the shape of a Christmas decoration or as a Christmas cracker.
6. Give your party a festive feel
Bring a bit of Christmas cheer to the room you're holding your party in by dressing it up with some festive sparkle, such as some giant frosted trees dressed in pea lights. Create place cards with embossed baubles or a bundle of cinnamon sticks with a name tag attached as these are simple and inexpensive but effective.
And finally don't forget to relax and thoroughly enjoy the fruits of all your hard work!
- Liz is from the Manchester-based Taylor Lynn Corporation (TLC) and has staged hundreds of festive parties and events.
- There's more advice in every issue of Yours magazine, out every fortnight on a Tuesday.