Christmas party planning tips to banish bad weather blues

Quick! It’s raining and dreary. Push cocktails and sun-soaked evening barbeques to the back of your mind and seize this miserable introduction to AW15 to start daydreaming about the most epic of Christmas parties, before everyone else does.

You’ve got to get in there quickly if you want a bite at the best London venues for your end of year bash, because it’s rain-soaked days like this that kickstart the festive fantasies and see the clever office elves begin their quest to plan enticing, amazing parties. Believe it or not, many companies start planning their Christmas events as early as March! Luckily, we’ve pulled together some tips to help focus your mind and get you into the festive zone fast.

1) Lock in the date

If you’re organising a company bash, first things first, fix your date. If it’s a company party for your staff, assess availability and preferences by reviewing diary dates with key members of staff in your next team meeting. For teams scattered across different offices, you could do this by running a poll, using a scheduling tool such as Doodle. Simply circulate the link to participate via email and you’ll soon have a tally of the most popular date options. Having first, second and third date options pencilled down will widen your pool of possible venues.

2) Theme for the majority

Dictating how people should have fun can be a recipe for a festive flop. Be sure to conjure up a Christmas concept that works for your audience and get the formal versus informal balance right. Are they a ‘slap-up lunch down the pub’, fuss-free sort of crowd, or are they adventurous extroverts who’d shun anything less than a fancy dress theme, a red carpet entrance and cocktail-fuelled antics at a headline-grabbing venue?

Over-engineered itineraries may please some but horrify others, so while budget is a big factor in what’s possible, be careful to always plan your Christmas party with the majority of your target audience front of mind. What would they see as an end-of-year treat that says thank you for their hard work? An opportunity to dress up and attend a glitzy, themed party with other companies at a unique London venue? A corporate away-day featuring interactive team building activities and a sit-down meal? Or maybe a private hire-out of a pub or bar, with self-service buffet, for all staff and their partners?

Creating an event that’s unique and memorable just requires a little imagination and a good knowledge of your audience. Just be sure to consider the after effects of a free-flowing bar and the impact on productivity the next day if you choose a week night!

3) Kill 37 birds with one stone!

Why spend hours trawling Google using every search term under the sun when you could save huge amounts of time with a free venue finding service like The Westminster Collection? If you know you want a central London venue, you know the style of event you’re looking to achieve, you’ve got your proposed dates, and you’re open to recommendations, this free venue finding service can slice through the noise and deliver you up to 37 options of venues, ranging from luxury hotels and private members clubs, to river boats, quirky Grade I and II listed venues, iconic tourist attractions, museums and trendy restaurants.

These venues offer their own unique, off-the-shelf packages such as shared party nights, exclusive hire deals and Christmas lunch or dinner deals, or more bespoke planning services. A service like The Westminster Collection really can make your party planning pain free. Why not come along to our free venue showcase on Friday 18 September for some festive venue inspiration?

4) Don’t skimp on the food or drink

Nothing says ‘we value you’ more than an indulgent spread of festive food. Work with your venue caterer to plan the very best menu your budget will buy, whether it’s a sit-down meal, a drinks reception with canapés, or a self-service buffet. Let your venue help you make clever choices and advise on the most practical types of food for sociable party settings. Avoiding smelly foods will help out people’s networking efforts, as will lighter choices for the folks who’d like to avoid an impending food coma and uncomfortable bloat in their party frocks.

Set menus offering three choices of starter, main and dessert can help your guests pace themselves responsibly, as well as being budget friendly for you, the organiser. Keep the bar well stocked too and ensure people have access to adequate top-ups of alcohol and free-flowing soft drinks to keep them quenched and in the party mood through to the end of the night. There’s nothing worse than a bar running dry to kill the vibe and see the DJ left rocking the dancefloor on his lonesome!


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Christmas parties unwrapped
Get Christmas Licked! Venue Showcase

Christmas parties unwrapped

Deck the halls, hang your stockings and mull the wine because Christmas 2015 is on its way and no doubt Father Christmas has already set his elves to work. If you are yet to wrap-up your Christmas plans don’t panic, there is still a sleigh-full of options to make your Christmas party sparkle and we have rounded them up into one easy parcel.

If all-out themes and wall-to-wall sparkle is what you are after then 8 Northumberland Avenue, QEII Centre and No.11 Cavendish Square should be at the top of your list.

Less than 60 seconds away from Trafalgar Square and steeped in Victorian History, 8 Northumberland Avenue is going all out for Christmas 2015 with not one but two themes. They are transforming their Ballroom into a Great Gatsby inspired Vintage Affair and their Old Billiard Room and Annex will be covered in Christmas Market loveliness for A Winter’s Avenue. Seated lunches start from £95pp + VAT and dinner packages from £110 + VAT.

QEII Centre presents Christmas at the OscarsNot to be outdone, QEII Centre is offering up the ultimate A list party for Christmas at the Oscars. Feel like a superstar at one of London’s most iconic conference venues and walk the red carpet into your Christmas event. A stand up buffet starts from £43pp + VAT and packages include a photographer to act as your personal paparazzi for the night meaning you will really celebrate Christmas in style.

Christmas at No.11 Cavendish SquareNo.11 Cavendish Square is transforming into an authentic Ski Lodge this Christmas complete with burning log fire, antlers and wooden decorations. Feel like you are right in the heart of the Alps as No.11 Cavendish Square has every aspect covered from gazing at the Northern Lights to enjoying an exquisite dinner in the Glass House. Packages include exclusive room hire, unlimited beer, wine and soft drinks and a DJ and start from £110pp+ VAT for groups of up to 300.

For the more traditional amongst you there are plenty of venues keeping it simple with their Christmas offerings. At One Great George Street their ‘One Great Christmas’ will be filled with all the best of Christmas tradition including crackers and mulled wine as well as canapés and three-course meal packages. Packages are available from 28th November to 22nd December 2015 and start from £44.50pp + VAT.

From festive afternoon teas to champagne receptions and decadent five-course meals, The Athenaeum Hotel, conveniently located just nine minutes’ walk from Buckingham Palace, is serving up everything a traditional Christmas in the city needs. Available from Monday 16th to Thursday 31st December from £45pp their menus include roast turkey with all the trimmings and Christmas pudding with Brandy sauce.

Army & Navy Club Library RoomTradition and military history go hand in hand and at the Army and Navy Club you are guaranteed to enjoy your Christmas party enveloped in British history dating back to 1837. The club, situated in London’s Mayfair, was first opened by Queen Victoria and is now one of the city’s most distinguished private members clubs. Christmas dinner packages start from £75pp and include a welcome drink, three-course meal, coffee and mince pies.

Blueboar Christmas lunchConrad London St James is offering up all the best and most traditional things about Christmas all wrapped up in two neat packages: The Christmas Cracker lunch package and The Jingle Bell Rock dinner package. Lunch events are £70pp and you can enjoy an evening affair for £95pp. Both packages include a three-course meal and room hire and both can be tailored to your individual needs.

If a traditional Christmas doesn’t quite light up your tree then why not try something a little more unique this year?

The centre of the British film industry and home to some iconic pieces of motion picture history, BAFTA 195 Piccadilly guarantees to throw you a star-sprinkled bash complete with red carpet, really giving your event the A-list edge. Booking an event with BAFTA comes complete with your very own alchemist to conjure up a personalised cocktail for the evening and packages start from £120pp + VAT for minimum numbers of 80.

hqs wellingtonAlso offering something a little more unusual is HQS Wellington. Step off dry land onto the iconic River Thames and soak up the stunning views of the South Bank and the London Eye while enjoying a Christmas party to remember. The ship is offering the complete package from welcome drinks of mulled wine to a three-course festive dinner before dancing the night away with music provided by a top DJ.

The festive season is a great time to take advantage of offers and 2015 is no exception. London Film Museum is not only home to 100 exhibit items that include vehicles, models, original production art, props and vintage memorabilia that span over 50 years of James Bond history, they are also offering 20% off venue hire for all Westminster Collection clients. The offer is valid on all parties booked before 20th September 2015 and with the latest in the Bond franchise hitting cinemas in November it is the perfect way to celebrate Christmas in style.

St James Theatre scallopsSt. James Theatre is a unique, award-winning arts complex in central London less than five minutes away from Victoria Station. The theatre prides itself on providing a cultural and theatrical platform for shows and productions with plans to conquer the West End. The venue has a capacity for 120 cabaret style and this Christmas they are offering a free glass of prosecco per person for all group bookings of eight or more confirmed by 30th September, because Christmas isn’t Christmas without a little fizz.

Also offering some seasonal savings is Victory Services Club. Set in the heart of London just five minutes’ walk away from Marble Arch, the club has seven versatile meeting rooms and is accredited with a gold award by the Meetings Industry Association guaranteeing quality of service. Exclusive to The Westminster Collection event bookers, Victory Services Club is offering 10% discount on any Christmas party booking, plus a complimentary glass of prosecco on arrival for all bookings made by 16th October.

So whether it’s all the glitz and glamour you can lay your hands on or a quiet traditional Christmas meal in a historical setting that will make your Christmas events wish come true, Westminster has every taste and preference covered to celebrate in style for 2015. Explore now and if you want to enquire at all 30+ venues from our collection, you can do this with one simple form here.

We’re also hosting a special Christmas themed venue showcase this 18th September at {10-11} Carlton House Terrace. Find your perfect Christmas or New Year party destination, or fuel your planning for conferences, fashions shows, awards dinners and more, with a showcase of Westminster’s finest venues, complete with exclusive offers, arts and crafts, competitions and giveaways. It’s free to register. Simply click here.

Cavendish Conference Centre to reveal new look at October showcase

Cavendish Conference Centre is hosting a special evening on Thursday 1st October 2015 to let you experience the venue in a light you’ll never before have seen. Corporate event bookers are invited to register now to secure your place. Email hadleigh@cavendishvenues.co.uk and join the conversation on twitter via hashtag #CavShowcase15.

The Oxford Circus venue, which scooped the title ‘Best Conference Venue Customer Service’ at the recent Conference Awards 2015, has invested in new technology and updated furnishings in both The Auditorium and the Whittington Suite, which is an ideal space for product launches and AGMs for up to 250 guests. The venue has already welcomed the likes of Blackberry and the Royal Television Society within the newly refurbished spaces.

Dermot Waldron, Operations Director and partner at Cavendish Venues, spoke of the aims of the renovation project: “Our clients are our future and we invest for the future. This major financial investment into what is already a state-of-the-art venue only goes to further enhance the status and service that we provide to our clients – that’s been a winning formula for the last 20 years, which we look to continue for the next 20. It’s a very exciting time ahead for the team at Cavendish Venues. With this development showing our clients to be at the forefront of our ambitions, we make achieving their objectives smooth with the latest amenities so that every event works seamlessly.”

Discover more about Cavendish Conference Centre here.

Broadway House invests in presentation tech with 95-inch Samsung LED

EEF Venues at Broadway House in Westminster has invested in a 95-inch Samsung ME95C LED display in its Council Chamber room to enhance visual communication for meetings, conferences and training sessions. The world’s first 95-inch large format display in brilliant FHD delivers rich, dynamic and impactful content.

The advantages to delegates are many, as Amanda Sutton, venue manager for Broadway House, explains: “Unlike projected images in a darkened room, this digital signage presentation tool retains picture quality with broad colour ratios, deep blacks and sharp images, even in bright light.

“Content shown on the display screen has virtually no distortion. Images aren’t blurred when the screen is touched. The presenter isn’t dazzled by light from a projector, nor does the presenter throw a shadow on the screen. The reduced light scatter and reduced reflection make the content easier to read, increasing audience concentration and productivity. Another bonus is that the presentation area is free from machinery and cables.”

Broadway House is a six-storey Edwardian building at the heart of Westminster, making it a very popular choice for ministerial meetings and press conferences. It is directly opposite St James’s Park tube station, and a 10-minute walk from Victoria, Waterloo and Charing Cross, so it couldn’t be any more convenient for city meetings.

To enquire about holding an event at Broadway House, click here.

Chairman and new directors appointed to TWC board

We’ve appointed four new directors to our board and appointed a chairman as part of a restructure of roles. Clare Arouche, head of business development at 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, Diane Waldron, sales and marketing director at QEII Centre, Amanda Sutton, venue manager at Broadway House and Paul Martins, director of sales at Cavendish Venues, step up to the board as directors.

Robin Parker, general manager of Church House Conference Centre, has accepted the role of chairman to manage and provide leadership to the board. Parker has served on TWC’s board for four years.

Speaking of his new role, Parker said: “I’m looking forward to helping ensure a successful future for the collection and for our member venues. I’ve always believed in the value of TWC for generating sales enquiries for venues and also for creating a network of passionate events people who like to share ideas, contacts and potential business. Clare, Diane, Amanda and Paul have already shown great commitment to TWC and the board is really enjoying their fresh perspective and energetic support.”

Event organisers should register now for a festive feast of inspiration on Friday 18 September, when more than 35 Westminster venues come together for TWC’s annual showcase, taking place at {10-11} Carlton House Terrace, 08:30–11:30am.

This year’s showcase, themed to deliver early Christmas cheer, will bring together unusual, historical, modern and exciting event venues to inspire and entice. TWC’s free-to-attend showcase promises a great morning for anyone who organises events or books venues, whether it’s late Christmas and New Year parties or drinks receptions you’re looking to organise, or even forward planning for conferences, product launches, fashion shows, awards dinners, concerts and more into next year and beyond.

Click here to register now for free.

Find out more about TWC’s venues by exploring the collection here.

‘Get Christmas Licked!’ Venue Showcase

Throw on your reindeer antlers and trot on down to 10-11 Carlton House Terrace this September, for festive frolics and good fun with more than 35 of Westminster’s finest venues. This year, Christmas cheer and creative, seasonal theming bring together a selection of unusual, historical, modern and exciting events destinations to inspire and entice.

Special offers, arts and crafts workshops, competitions and giveaways will all serve to introduce you to our wealth of individually unique central London properties, whether it’s late Christmas and New Year parties and drinks receptions you’re looking to organise, or forward planning for conferences, product launches, fashion shows, awards dinners, concerts and more into next year and beyond.

Meet friendly teams from luxury hotels, private members clubs, concert halls, museums and attractions, river boats, modern and traditional conference centres, historic institutes and societies. Enjoy one-on-one discussions in a dedicated and relaxed environment and fill your little black book with great new contacts, venue ideas, theming notes and confirmed diary dates for the personalised venue tours you’ve been able to organise with your new connections.

The Westminster Collection’s annual venue showcase is free to attend, subject to qualifying criteria. Register now! We look forward to seeing you in September.