Agency Christmas Parties: How To Throw A Ripper And Why You Should Get Organised Now

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Barely a day goes by at the year’s end when adland doesn’t stumble into work with red-ringed eyes and memories of last night they’d rather forget. Chortling with colleagues about the escapades of Monica in accounts and Brian from IT while salivating over the thought of a monster burger from the local pub, the advertising world knows how to handle the Christmas party season.

Emma Mackenzie
Posted by Emma Mackenzie

But who’s thinking about Christmas already? We’ve barely gotten over the fact we need to start our taxes soon. Well venues, caterers and entertainment fill up fast. And now is the time to slap down the company credit card and secure your agency one hell of a time.

There’s a multitude of venues in our capital cities equipped to handle a doozy of a party, but the issue for adland is that many other industries who either have the money already or secure early budgets often swoop in and score the hot spots first.

“By March, every Friday in December is gone in our main venues,” says Jude Knam, meetings and events manager at events company Merivale. “And I’m talking venues that can hold 150 plus people.”

Knam says budget restraints and timing is what hinders adland from securing the illustrious Ivy Penthouse in Sydney, which she says is the company’s most popular Christmas party venue.

“Other companies just have their shit together,” she says. “Agencies miss out because they start calling from now all the way to Christmas and everyone gets told no, it’s already been booked.”

It’s hard to not wait for the budget to come through in the new financial year, but James Granter, sales manager at Sydney fairground Luna Park, says agencies should at least start talks.

“My advice to people looking at booking a Christmas party at Luna Park Venues is get in early!” he stresses.

“And that doesn’t mean you have to wait until you have a budget approved or sign-off from your social committee. That can always take a little longer. It means get in contact with us now so we can give you an idea of costs and get your preferred date reserved in case you need it down the track.”

It’s no cheap endeavour though to throw the sorts of bashes that keep people gossiping for weeks. Many cost well into the tens of thousands, depending on what venue, catering and entertainment the social committee chooses. But if you’re going to fork out enough moolah that will make the CFO look like they’ve swallowed a lemon, you want to make sure it’s a raving success.

No silent night when it comes to agency christmas parties

A steadfast rule to hosting the ultimate Christmas party is think outside the box. “You need to do something different,” stresses Cat Prestipino, JAPAC marketing director for first-party data platform AdRoll.

“I won’t name names, but so many companies hire the same venues with the same food and canapes. You need to have something that hooks an audience and will get them excited.” She recommends thinking of the Christmas party in the same way you would a client campaign. Creatively.

In general, adland is savvier and braver at this than other industries like banks, says Monika Toth, director of event management company, TCM Events. And they understand themes like ‘Great Gatsby’ and ‘Jungle’ are soooo 2014, puts in Merivale’s Knam. Now it’s about being stylish and teaming everything together simply.

Simplicity is a big element here. Prestipino says she’s seen numerous agencies spend oodles on different experiences, rooms and details it just gets overwhelming for guests. “Don’t overcomplicate things!” she stresses.

Music and entertainment play a big part in the overall party vibe. Both Prestipino and Knam say don’t have the tunes too loud and make sure it fits with the type of people along. “You really have to read the crowd,” says Prestipino, “and see what they’re responding to.”

The entertainment also needs to be unique. Bonus points if it’s something people can tweet or Instagram. If saucy is what you’re after, Knam recommends Bath Boy – a half-naked man who splashes around in a bath. Or a big blow-up see-through ball with a woman flailing about inside. AdRoll’s Prestipino said the company’s AdRollerDisco party in 2015 was a big hit because it was different, even if it did render a plethora of flailing spaghetti limbs.

If you want to finish the piece, grab the latest issue of B&T Magazine. Or pop round our offices and we’ll hand you one with a smile.