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Stress-Free Holiday Party & Event Planning Tips

Updated on December 4, 2018
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Holly is owner of Studio HB Events & Communication and has over 20 years experience in event planning in the higher ed and non-profit fields

Get Your Mental Game On for Stress-Free Holiday Party Planning

Holiday parties! Whether you love them or they send you running to hide in the supply closet, the season for holiday events and gatherings is upon us! If you find yourself in the position of ad hoc event planner, it doesn’t have to add (too much) stress to your life. Here are my Top 8 Event Tips for creating a well-planned, festive holiday party or event without losing your cool.


Photo courtesy of Brooke Lark
Photo courtesy of Brooke Lark

Top 8 Tips for Keeping Your Cool

  • Plan ahead. According to Stephen Covey, author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People," successful people 'begin with the end in mind.' Before you begin to stress about the small details, think about the outcome you would like to achieve at your event: What is the goal of your party? Give some thought to completing this statement: "I would like people to leave my event feeling ________." Some examples might include “this is the most fun ever they’ve ever had,” “connected to other people,” “educated about our organization’s mission,” “energized,” or “warm fuzzies about my company.” Spend a little time pondering this question. Visualizing the outcome you want is one of the most important factors in planning any successful event.
  • Do some research. If you don’t have extensive experience planning events, there's no need to worry. You can easily find endless resources and helpful event planning information by Googling phrases like ‘event planning tips,’ ‘party planning 101,’ or ‘holiday party planning’. No need to reinvent the wheel. Nearly every type of event you may imagine has been done before, and most event planners are very eager to share their advice.
  • Create a timeline and checklist. These will be invaluable at keeping things on track. Again, there are many templates and checklists available online at no charge. Getting your specifics down on paper and organized can be one of your best tools to stay organized and on track.


Photo courtesy of Glenn Carstens-Peters
Photo courtesy of Glenn Carstens-Peters
  • Divide and conquer. Create an action plan and enlist the support of a few friends or coworkers to lighten your load. They will be more than happy to help. Many hands make the load lighter. It’s a great way to have fun, get to know people better, and build meaningful connections with others. There is no need to 'go it alone.'
  • Enjoy the process. Even in the planning stages, don’t lose sight of the purpose of your party or event: to celebrate! Celebration is not just for the guests. It includes you, the event planner, as well. It’s an exhilarating feeling to see your great work come to fruition, and it takes a happy event planner to produce a joyful event. Match your mood to the occasion.

There is no need to 'go it alone.'

Photo courtesy of rawpixel
Photo courtesy of rawpixel
  • Do a walk through. Once you think you have all your bases covered, do a mental or physical “rehearsal”. Enlist a coworker and pretend you are guests attending the event. Imagine all the different stages of attendance: from invitations and RSVPs, to arrival, parking, signage, check in and coat storage, to cleanup, vendor payments and lost and found. This is my favorite way to discover an element or detail I may have missed in the planning stage.
  • Realistically estimate the amount of time you'll need to set up. Then double it. Things usually take longer than we think, and there are, almost always, some inevitable snafus that arise. Allowing yourself extra time gives you the opportunity to calmly and successfully deal with any curve balls that may come your way.
  • Be present and enjoy. Give yourself the gift of enjoying the event you’ve invested your time, energy, and care into. You’ll have your team to assist you in making sure the details run smoothly, so be sure to take some time to get in on the fun and engage in meaningful conversation with your guests.

Photo courtesy of Toa Heftiba
Photo courtesy of Toa Heftiba

These eight mental tips can help you remain calm in the face of what may seem like countless details. By staying focused on the big picture and vision and working as team, you’ll be better prepared to handle the planning, tasks, and surprises with ease while you remain as cool as an arctic snowflake!

Be sure to share your event stories and questions below! I’d love to hear about your favorite holiday events.

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© 2018 Holly Beveridge

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