This Season, Consider Planning Ahead for Holiday Events – You’ll Be Glad You Did
Guest Post By Claire Kelly
Photo Courtesy Of Cassie LaMere Events
Christmas came in June this year for my mother and me as we strolled through Dallas’ colossal Market Hall Center, literally rubbing elbows with the crowds of buyers, designers, and tastemakers making the twice-yearly pilgrimage to the Big D to scope the latest luxury products and assess trends.
Always a fun and inspiring trip, this year’s jaunt had us noticing a tendency within ourselves that seemed to also apply more broadly. We were consistently drawn to vendors showcasing holiday items – glittering showrooms decked with colorful displays of holiday-themed dinnerware, linens, wreaths and garlands, tree ornaments, and countless other types of regalia – and we weren’t alone. These shops were noticeably more crowded than ones with less season-specific offerings.
One reason for this trend seems obvious: our preoccupation with all things holiday could be owed, at least in part, to the global requirement of this past year to simplify – to trim the guest list rather than the tree. Whatever the reason, the message ringing through the halls in Dallas was clear: the 2021 holiday season is sure to be one to remember. Going all-out is definitely in.
And while this tone shift brings with it a welcome dose of optimism, it's easy for even the most seasoned event planner or host to become overwhelmed by the thought of the highly anticipated return of holiday entertaining after a long hiatus from the social status quo.
With this season getting us *cautiously* excited about the possibility of no holds barred soirées, we want to make sure you're prepared for an especially elegant - and extroverted - time. To that end, here are a few tips to help you make the most of the weeks and months ahead so that when November and December do arrive, you can relax and cherish meaningful moments with family and friends. After all, that's what the holiday season is all about.
Solidify your venue plans
If your event – be it a corporate Christmas party, family holiday gathering, annual holiday dinner, or other festivity – requires a venue that you must reserve, make sure those plans are locked in now. With countless would-have-been 2020 events taking place in the second half of this year, venue space continues to be extremely limited.
Understanding this reality will not only help you whittle down your list of potential venues, but also encourage you to consider lesser-known or outside-the-box spaces – places that are likely to have a lot to offer in terms of uniqueness and bang-for-the-buck but may not have been top picks initially. If you do have your heart set on a certain location, see if the venue includes multiple spaces and inquire about reserving a different area within the same setting (a hotel’s rooftop bar rather than its ballroom, for example).
Hop on the micro-event bandwagon...or don’t
2020 reminded us that intimate gatherings can be just as stylish as more grandiose affairs, which means the sky’s the limit in planning right now. The micro-event trend is still in full swing as people realize that small-scale events come with a lot of perks, but large-scale celebrations are also having a moment.
The thing to remember then is to socialize in whatever way is best for you. If you’re excited by the prospect of an ultra-lavish affair, embrace that. Or, if you prefer something smaller, blow your closest family and friends away by prioritizing quality over quantity- you’ll be able to spend twice as much per guest by cutting your list in half. So, whether you’re throwing a petit fête, or the event of the decade, do it up in (your own) style.
If the past year has taught us anything, it’s the value of being flexible and not sweating the small stuff. Successful event planning is as much about creativity as it is about logistics, so avoid the temptation to try to make festivities look exactly like they did before 2020 and think about ways to incorporate new traditions.
Restaurants booked up every weekend in December? Why not host a company Christmas party brunch or happy hour on a weekday rather than a Saturday night dinner? Agonizing over not being able to order your Thanksgiving meal from the catering company you’ve used for years? Consider trying a completely new food genre rather than attempting to recreate the same menu through another service.
Focusing on creating a warm, gracious setting – instead of focusing on what didn’t work out – will ensure that friends, family, or whoever you’re hosting walks away having had a truly meaningful – and fun – experience.
Think about gift-giving now
Selecting truly unique, thoughtful gifts – especially for people beyond your circle of closest friends and family - can be one of the most daunting aspects of holiday prep, which is why getting shopping done well before the holiday season kicks off can reduce stress significantly and leave you freer to actually enjoy the rounds of events on the horizon. But how does one get inspired to shop without the festive atmosphere of retail holiday hustle and bustle?
If you're responsible for finding gifts for multiple employees, colleagues, or clients, it can be helpful to remember that many vendors now offer bespoke, personalized gift options online. Many companies - including Cassie LaMere Events - design, source, and execute custom gifts, curated gift boxes, or experiential deliveries for those looking to send specialized gifts.
Opting for services like these not only frees up your to-do list, but ensures that your gifts are creative and something recipients will actually want to use. They can even promote shopping local, as specialty gifting companies often make a point of collaborating with makers, artisans, or boutiques to create gifts that are highly customized or original. Avoid last-minute gifting blunders that don't make an impact; it's obvious to the recipient who took the time to select a thoughtful gift and those who grabbed something expected due to time constraints.
So know that you’re not alone – there are plenty of creative, convenient options for expressing appreciation for the people in your life. Just be sure to put your orders in extra early this year, as shipping delays are impacting the availability of goods worldwide.
Pro tip: Don’t forget the host! Keep a stash of simple-yet-stylish goodies on-hand so you have hostess gifts ready to go for last-minute events and invites. You can build your stash by looking at everyday outings as opportunities for inspiration; finally trying that trendy new restaurant? Remember the foodies in your life and see about picking up a run of gift cards. Headed out-of-town? Jaunts to new destinations are perfect opportunities to pick up smaller presents or unique stocking stuffers.
Identify your priorities ahead of time...and stick to them
Perhaps the most significant lesson 2020 gave us is the value of slowing down and truly cherishing the moment. But remembering this wisdom amid the holiday whirlwind is challenging to say the least, which is why it’s crucial to take some time to reflect on your own social priorities – whether you’re a host or a guest – well before the invitations start rolling in.
Consider saying “yes” to fewer invites this season so that you have mental and emotional energy for the gatherings that are most important. Leaving space in your calendar for restorative downtime helps ensure that when you do go to a social event, you can do so with an authentic, gracious attitude. And remember, there’s no urgency to “make up for lost time” – 2021 is just one of many festive years to come.