As the year draws to a close, it’s time to celebrate your company’s successes — and toast to future endeavors. It’s also a time to bring employees (and even shareholders) together for an evening of epic entertainment. So where to start? According to expert corporate planners: An unforgettable soirée hinges on the right holiday party venue.
PartySlate reached out to The Revel Group, Ladidadi Events & Incentives, and The Actors Gymnasium to gain insight from some of the best corporate vendors in the industry. As experienced vendors, they know the importance of choosing the right holiday party venue before the planning begins. It starts with knowing what to prioritize in a venue, which questions to ask, and understanding your company’s needs.
Kasey Foster, Special Events Manager of The Actors Gymnasium, reminds us why company holiday parties are so important. “Why do we throw parties?” he asks. “To create a shared experience for the people we care about. The better the experience, the more memorable the time; and the more memorable the time, the closer the bonds become.”
Keep reading to learn how to choose the best party venue in five steps — plus discover some of our favorite holiday party ideas found on PartySlate. The holidays have never looked happier.
See a Winter Wonderland Holiday Bash Unfold From Start to Finish
1. Know What to Prioritize
Many factors go into choosing the right corporate holiday party venue. You may have a checklist already in mind, or you may not know where to start. Either way, it’s important to know what to prioritize. Once you establish your essentials, you can begin to narrow your venue selection based on secondary needs.
Prioritize the following for a seamless event: location, style, and guest capacity.
You know the saying: location, location, location. Before you choose a venue, you need to know where you want your holiday party to take place.
Sarah Banasiak, Chief Creative Officer of The Revel Group, urges companies to consider the accessibility of the location. “For example, is the location easy to get to and from for your team?” she asks.
Companies will also want to consider whether they need to accommodate remote team members. Consider whether your venue location is close to hotels, restaurants, or the airport.
Lastly, keep in mind that your surroundings inevitably affect the look and vibe of your celebration. For guests living in warmer climates, an outdoor cocktail hour can hinge on the beauty of the surroundings. Even indoor celebrations can benefit from a breathtaking view.
Pro Tip: Hire a corporate event planner or event agency before you start your venue search. An experienced planner will be familiar with potential venue choices. They’ll know the right questions to ask and will anticipate pain points that you might overlook.
Your party style creates the look and feel of your celebration. Consequently, choosing a party style may have more to do with your venue choice than you think.
Sarah Banasiak, Chief Creative Officer of The Revel Group (which includes Revel Global Events, Revel Decor, Limelight Catering, and Revel Space), explains. “While some of the best design companies can certainly transform a space, when you start with a foundation of style, you can maximize your spend to create the ultimate space and vibe. Planners and PartySlate are a perfect place to start that process and allow you to find the perfect fit.”
Banasiak suggests companies first think about “the overall feel they want to embody with their celebration, and then find something or someplace that aligns.” For a more formal affair, she suggests a venue with “great bones and classic design elements.” For something more trendy and unexpected, choose “a non-traditional venue or little-known, undiscovered spot.” Whatever style you decide on, she advises companies to make sure it’s “in line with the vibe of the company” as well as the demographic of the guests.
Keep in mind, many venues, such as hotels, may feature holiday decorations during the holidays. As such, Noelle McInerney, Founder and Senior Producer of Ladidadi Events & Incentives, advises companies to ask prospective venues if there will be predetermined holiday decorations. She also recommends that companies ask whether there are any restrictions in terms of what décor can be added.
Banasiak reminds us, “Your design team should be asking questions about load in and out times.” She also tells us that any design teams who have not previously worked in your chosen venue should ask “what has worked well in the past and what hasn’t. Your venue team can have a wealth of information about where the real impact points are.”
See how some venues lend themselves more easily to certain styles:
The Hotel Ballroom
Ballroom hotels often feature classic architecture, mirrored walls, and glittering chandeliers. As such, they’re the perfect venue space for a classic party style. We love how this New Year’s Eve celebration at The Ritz-Carlton, Boston features silver and gold details that complement the room’s silvery color palette and crystalline chandeliers.
Industrial Event Space
Industrial venues are known for their soaring ceilings and open floor plans, as well as truss and rigging features. Such customizable spaces lend themselves to vibrant projection mapping and dramatic ceiling décor. We especially love how this Chicago holiday party transformed the The Geraghty with bright-blue uplighting and eclectic light fixtures by and BlackOak Technical Productions.
Party tent rentals come in all shapes and sizes, making them the most versatile holiday party venue. They’re also a great choice for companies looking to celebrate outdoors with a weather-proof option. We love how this holiday party, planned by Plan It! Events, spans indoors and out — giving guests a chance to celebrate under twinkling lights as well as twinkling stars.
Exclusive Event Space
Exclusive event spaces are specifically designed to host celebrations. As such, they tend to be more versatile and transformable. Think of the space as a blank canvas. We love how this corporate holiday party at Venue SIX10 feels like six parties in one. Ever-shifting uplighting by BlackOak Technical Productions casts the celebration in a range of bold hues from one minute to the next. Click “See More Photos,” and see which color you like best.
Vintage venues, often registered as Historic Landmarks, frequently feature ornate architectural details and décor. Thus, they lend themselves to glamorous celebrations with lots of gold and glittering details. We love how this James Bond-themed holiday party at the Aragon Ballroom, planned by , uses lavish gold furnishings to complement the terra-cotta ceilings and luxe golden balconies.
Banasiak reminds us to not overlook a venue’s guest capacities. “Is the size large enough to comfortably fit your guest count?” she asks. She also suggests to make sure the space isn’t too large for your guest count, “making it feel cold or lacking excitement and energy.”
Pro Tip: PartySlate’s Curated Venue Directory features guest capacities on each venue listing, so you will be able to determine whether a venue meets your capacity needs before even clicking into their PartySlate profile page for more information.
2. Determine Essential Amenities and/or Services
Before you begin your venue search, have an idea on which amenities you absolutely require, would like to have, and can do without. Next, decide if you prefer your amenities to be in-house or whether you’re willing to bring in outside vendors (and whether your venue will allow that).
Noelle McInerney, Founder and Senior Producer of Ladidadi Events & Incentives, reminds party hosts to ask their potential venue “what rentals are included in the venue fee (chairs, tables, linen, etc.).” She also suggests hosts inquire about the audio/visual setup. It’s important to know what’s included versus what comes with an additional charge.
Foster of The Actors Gymnasium reminds party hosts to consider what kind of amenities are needed for specific moments of your celebration — such as entertainment acts.
“We typically require a dressing room for the performers to get ready in,” he tells us, “as well as to serve as a secure place for them to store their personal belongings during their performances. If the venue is planning on having any aerial artists for their event, we’d either plan a site visit beforehand to determine the best way to rig any flying apparatus to the existing ceiling structure, or create a floor plan that allows for one of our free-standing aerial rigs.”
At the end of the day, “amenities can be adjusted or brought in by the right planning partner,” Banasiak reminds us. So if there’s a venue that you love, but they don’t check all of your boxes, ask your event planner if there’s a way your other vendors can bring your desired amenities onsite.
Pro Tip: You can also filter for specific amenities when utilizing PartySlate’s Curated Venue Directory.
3. Know Which Questions to Ask
Knowledge is power. In order to get the best information from a prospective venue, you need to know the right questions to ask. Knowing this information in advance will save you headaches down the road. The last thing you want is any unforeseen logistical problems midway through your event.
McInerney shares the top questions to ask any prospective venue:
- What’s the latest the party can go to?
- What’s the parking / valet / rideshare situation?
- Do you have a coat check, and if so, is the cost included?
- Do you have a list of preferred vendors we have to work with or can we work with anyone?
- Are you ADA accessible?
- Can my group fit in a single space or will they be split between spaces? What’s the attendee flow within the space?
- What’s the load-in situation for our vendors?
- What are your insurance requirements?
- Do you have in-house security?
4. Determine Your Catering Needs
Remember, some venues come with their own catering team. McInerney suggests finding out if your preferred venue provides in-house catering, and if not, do they have a catering kitchen available for outside caterers.
Some venues who allow outside caterers may still have a list of preferred vendors. Make sure to get clarification on any vendor stipulations. If you have a preferred caterer in mind, but don’t see them on your venue’s list, don’t panic.
Banasiak tells us, “If you do have a favorite (like Limelight Catering), don’t be afraid to ask if the venue could make an exception. If you ask early in the planning and booking process, the answer might be more likely to be yes!”
Additionally, begin your research and outreach well ahead of the holidays. “Holiday season is also busy for caterers,” Banasiak says. “The sooner you get locked in, the better. With so many companies having to cancel or postpone in the last few years, 2022 is on trend to be one of the busiest ever.”
Lastly, see some of our favorite catering ideas for a company holiday party:
Curated Bar Set-Up
Give guests a reason to toast with a curated bar set-up. We love how this Apres Ski-themed corporate holiday party featured a custom-made bar area with vintage ski poster designs. Click “See More Photos” to zoom out and see how the bar also boasted a suspended paper snowflake installation and star-shaped lighting projections, plus delicious cuisine by .
Interactive Food Stations
Interactive food stations serve as fun, immersive entertainment. They also make for great conversation starters and opportunities to mingle. We love how this holiday party, with catering by , let guests roast their own marshmallows in order to craft the perfect s’more.
Live Cooking Demonstration
Onsite chefs are often just as engaging as a traditional entertainment act. We love how this futuristic holiday party kept the party going with a live cooking demonstration. Click “See More Photos” to see other creative catering ideas by M Culinary Concepts like a chemistry beverage station and mystery beverage wall where white gloved hands beckoned guests to receive mini cocktail shakers.
Seated dinners allow guests to wine and dine in smaller groups — so guests can experience an intimate setting, even at a large-scale event. We love how this Halloween holiday party, planned by and catered by New York Hilton Midtown, kept the ambiance spooky but elevated with dramatic pink uplighting and walls of shadowy autumnal leaves.
5. Accommodate for Entertainment Acts and Activities
Make sure your venue can accommodate entertainment acts during your holiday soirée. Foster of The Actors Gymnasium shares, “A company should prioritize entertainment at their company holiday party because they want everyone to look forward to another year of working together and finding what joyful celebrations might come next. Also, there is no better way to say thank you to someone than by providing a fantastic experience for them. Time is precious, and how we spend it is everything.”
The holidays are a time for joyful connections. Entertainment acts inspire guests and create fun bonding opportunities — making them an important feature for any holiday party. Foster gives us an example. “Every time circus arts appear in a room, people light up. Guests are delighted, and filled with joy and wonder. They are awestruck and in disbelief of what the human body is capable of. Watching circus allows us to dream bigger and excites us to take on feats we never thought possible before. There is laughter, strength, and grace. This kind of shared experience is what builds and strengthens our bonds.”
Make sure your venue can accommodate your entertainment vendors with any staging, rigging systems, changing rooms, and audio visual equipment. If you’re interested in live entertainment, make sure there is a flexible floor space with room for a dance floor. Lastly, find out if there are any building codes that could affect certain entertainment elements like cold fireworks.
See some of our favorite holiday entertainment ideas below:
Energize the crowd with a live band. We love how this New Year’s Eve celebration drew all eyes to the stage with a balloon drop, video projections, and dynamic lighting — not to mention, a dazzling musical performance by .
Whether you opt for a live band or a DJ, make sure you have a designated spot for dancing. We appreciate how this epic holiday party at SPACE54 wowed with an LED checkered dance floor that shifted from one hue to the next throughout the celebration.
Immersive activities turn celebrants into active participants. We adore how this holiday party, planned by , engaged guests right from the start. Guests chose their own adventure: joining either Team Naughty or Team Nice. From there, each team enjoyed countless activities, including a 20ft-custom snow-tubing hill.
Make sure your venue can support any circus acts, such aerial performances, with the right truss and rigging system. We love how this Christmas party dazzled with contortionists and aerialists from for a fun twist on corporate entertainment.
Pyrotechnics and Fire Acrobatics
Reels are trending. Guests are certain to take out their phones and record a wow-worthy display of cold fireworks, spark jets, and fire acrobatics. We love how this holiday party kept it Instagram-worthy with an extravagant circus performance by Cirque Berzerk Productions that included contortionists, singers, aerialists, rigging, creature stilt walkers, pyro acts, and more.
Every corporate party can benefit from a little friendly competition. Number Project kept guests engaged at this modern, circus-inspired holiday party with a high-energy dueling piano act in addition to costumed jugglers and acrobats.
People Also Ask…
Where can I find a holiday party venue?
PartySlate has you covered. Head to our Curated Venue Directory. Use the filters to first narrow your venue choice by event type. From there, choose your location and guest count. You can also use the filters to select your preferred amenities and any specific venue type you have in mind, such as a hotel ballroom or convention center.
*Make sure to click into a potential venue’s PartySlate Profile to see their event spaces as well as discover how real party hosts utilized the space for their events.
Where can I find vendors for my holiday party venue?
PartySlate can connect you with a curated list of corporate holiday party vendors. Use the filters to search for a specific vendor type such as event planner, photographer, and more. You can also narrow your search by location and services.
*Make sure to click into a potential vendor’s PartySlate profile to see real examples of their work, such as videos and photo albums.