Author Emily Stone Cofounder Gilded Bee
This blog post is part 1 of a 3 part series looking at creating lasting experiences at your Christmas party. In this post we specifically look at creating anticipation and an event narrative.
Lets face it, the Christmas party is the main event of the year for many employees.
It’s the most talked about and eagerly anticipated party for many employees and sometimes the only time they socialise outside working hours with their colleagues and/or customers.
A well thought-out Christmas Party with a strong communications narrative and attention to detail can form the foundation of a companies culture. I say this because I’ve worked for a few different companies with different attitudes to Christmas parties and I’ve noticed that the ones who have made more of an effort, and really celebrated their employees often had a much higher engagement and good will feeling amongst the employees. And when I say effort, I don’t necessarily mean spend.
And if you talk to most Human Resources Directors and ask them what their main priorities and objectives are, many will say engagement, or improving/changing the companies culture to support their objective. It is well recognised that high employee engagement equals better business performance with the Christmas party and other social events across the year having a significant influence on this.
Boots famously built a whole 5 year advertisement campaign from the power of the Christmas Party, which the phrase here come the girls will forever be associated.
So you can see that Boots knew, as we all do that the anticipation of an event can be just as important as the event itself in creating a positive, memorable experience.
Here are our 5 tips to create anticipation around your Christmas party;
Look back to your objectives, on the face of it the party will be a good opportunity to let your hair down and have a few drinks which in itself is so important. But it should also be a chance to recognise other strategic successes and reinforce core values.
For example if the business has a core value of acting as ‘one business’ but operate globally with international satellite offices. Could an annual event be an opportunity to bring people together. This may just be virtually but there can still be an opportunity to share experiences of parties, common party themes. Virtual notice boards and shared photo galleries.
This is more than a theme, it’s having a holistic, consistent voice. 'Lord Crispin’ the personality behind The London Christmas Party Show is an example of a great way to set the tone for an event and give it personality. Think of the period before the event as a comms campaign.
Hopefully you have heard of secret cinema? An immersive cinema experience. These guys take engagine guest before to the extreme, but there are lessons that we can all take away particularly when it comes to building anticipation. So obviously they are using a film as a theme but right from ticket booking your are given a character profile, have to complete questionnaires and then have an opportunity to engage in pre-event activities. You really feel like you are part of something special. This can translate in lots of ways for your event, but giving your guests buy in will really help with engagement. It could even be something as simple as asking for contributions to the party playlist. (Comical pic of Vicky and I dressed up before Blade Runner Secret Cinema)
Think about the details, we’ve all been there, a party has been planned to finest detai,l but at 6pm on the night of the event emails are being sent to hurry people out of the building and warning of office closure. This information may need to be communicated, but it’s important to think about tone of voice throughout so the spell isn’t broken before the party starts!
Something slightly unexpected can also be quite powerful. A bit of a cliche, but in our digital age something physical can really stand out. Modest as we are, we’ve used a piece of our own marketing campaign as an example here. We wanted to try direct marketing but we wanted to make it stand out. So we decided to take inspiration from a wedding invitation to move away from a standard corporate look.
We created a calendar on a heavy stock of card with our key order deadlines highlighted by the use of one of our bespoke brass clips. We also included a handwritten personal note, and we hand wrote the envelopes. Our hope was that by using these personal touches and using a practical item that people might want to keep that we would increase the engagement. The result was positive, aside form the business we gained from the campaign we had lots of great feedback. This sort of approach could well be applied to your invitations or other elements of your pre-party communications.
Hopefully this has been useful, these tips are also relevant for pretty much any corporate event. In our next installment, we’ll be looking at the main event its self at ways to create lasting memories.
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