If there’s one event type that stresses out event planners more than it really should it’s the Christmas party. What will people like? What will they want to do? Will they want to stay out? The list of questions that run through an organiser’s mind is seemingly endless. However, good planning is the answer. Understanding your budget you have and the expectations of people is equally important and puts you firmly on the path to developing a great event.
“If you fail to plan you are planning to fail” is famously said to have come from Benjamin Franklin, who, despite probably not planning many Christmas parties, realised that planning is crucial to a successful outcome. So, to help you plan effectively, we’ve compiled some key questions to ask before you start your venue search and made a few suggestions of venues in Birmingham that have caught our eye.
Know what you want before you start looking at venues
If you can answer the following questions, you’ll be perfectly positioned to start your venue search.
- How many people will be attending?
- What sort of atmosphere am I looking to create? Vibrant? Relaxed? Something else?
- Does the location need to be close to the city centre, near a station or parking, or can it be further out?
- Do I need a traditional Christmas package or something alternative?
- Does my event need to incorporate an activity such as mini golf or paintballing?
- What dates do I need?
- Do I need accommodation, if yes, how many rooms?
- How will people get to the venue? Is it an easy journey or is transport needed?
With these questions in mind, let’s take a look at some of the options available in Birmingham:
Sky By the Water
Sky By the Water is Resort World’s new rooftop bar and restaurant which opened its doors in January 2019. It sits at the top of the entertainment complex and offers stunning views, food and drink. The new restaurant menu has been created by Birmingham born Head Chef Aaron Darnley and it features a refreshed twist on classic British and French cooking. Oh and did we mention the Secret Garden which is now no longer a secret? The garden features eight cosy covered pods and an indoor glass bar area. Sky By the Water has a capacity of 260 across the whole venue, along with private dining for between 12 – 48 people in a dedicated space and a Chef’s table experience for between 2 – 10 people. Described as more of a destination venue than a drop in, maybe this location could be right up your street for your Christmas event.
Jekyll & Hyde
The Jekyll and Hyde offers something a little different when looking for a bar in Birmingham. It was originally a pub and has been subsequently renovated. Living up to its name, the venue has two personalities – Mr. Hyde’s Main Bar and Dr. Jekyll’s Gin Parlour! It all depends on your mood as to where you decide to go. If you like gin then this venue is definitely a good bet. As well as contemporary cocktails created by the in-house team, there are dozens of global gins to choose from. As well as having drinks served to you, the Jekyll & Hyde offers you the opportunity of getting stuck into your own cocktail making. Make a drink as they would have done in Victorian times and roll back the years.
Zen Metro is a multi award winning Thai restaurant and bar located in the heart of Birmingham’s Colmore business district. The food on offer is a fusion of contemporary and traditional Thai. The ambiance from the Zen Metro is a balance of luxury with a Thai twist. The Zen Metro has a capacity for 250 guests and the private dining room can seat 20. You have the option of reserving an area in the bar, the entire bar, the restaurant or the whole venue. In other words if you want a Thai themed Christmas party you will find options at Zen Metro. If you’re looking for something spicy then the Zen may work well for you. Don’t forget the Zen is also well known for being one of the best cocktail bars in Birmingham.
Malmaison properties are always distinctive and this is the case with their boutique hotel at Wharfside Street, Birmingham. It has 193 styled rooms and suites, so a good choice if you have people wanting to stay overnight after the party, especially if they are travelling a distance. If you want to hire event space you have various options. The venue has a private dining room for 20 people and then there are a number of Work and Play rooms of various sizes. The biggest of the rooms is Work and Play 3 which has a capacity of 60 people dining and 70 people for a drinks reception. If you have a small group and want something more intimate you could consider hiring their wine cellar which takes 14 people.
If you want to take a trip outside of Birmingham city centre then The Belfry could work. It is of course famous for its legendary golf and in fact has hosted more Ryder Cup tournaments than any other venue in the world. However, if you want to have your Christmas party at the Belfry then that is not a problem. On offer is their festive package which includes a glass of fizz on arrival, 3 course set menu with coffee and mince pies and to end the evening you have a DJ and dancing. As its 11 miles from Birmingham city centre you may need to spend money on taxis or you might just decide that it makes sense to experience the delights of the Belfry and stay over. Let’s not forget The Belfry has the stunning golfing environment and beautiful spa facilities that your guests would be sure to relax in after a Christmas party to remember.
The Victoria is a theatre pub that dates back to the end of the 19th century which oozes history, character and maybe even its own ghost. It could be clever marketing or it could be true, but maybe there really is a ghost in residence. To think you could enjoy the company of a spirit with your favourite spirit. Handpicked wines, cask ales and cocktails are all readily available. Plus if you want to try your hand at cocktail making that can be arranged as well. If you fancy a Christmas party with a haunting twist the Victoria could be the place for you. You can find the pub at 48 John Bright Street which is fairly close to Birmingham New Street station.
The Ghetto Golf venue can be found at the Custard Factory in Digbeth. An evening here would be very different to going out for a sit down Christmas meal. At Ghetto Golf it’s all about activity. This venue offers a very challenging 18 hole mini golf experience and more. The more is the graffiti and artwork, the cocktail bar and the DJs. If you are looking for something just outside of Birmingham centre that will offer an alternative Christmas party night, Ghetto Golf could be worth a trip. And the good news is that to play the crazy golf you don’t need to be able to play golf. In fact no experience is necessary. An activity such as crazy golf breaks down barriers between people and therefore if you want a Christmas event with team bonding this could be what you are looking for.
NEC Hotels and restaurants
The NEC has 19 exhibition halls, 34 conference suites and a host of outdoor spaces. It serves around 6M guests per year and over 500 events. It’s fair to say that there is vast expertise available for your Christmas event. The NEC is very accessible by transport links such as the motorways, Birmingham International Airport and the rail station. Sky By the Water which sits on the 5th floor of Resorts World has already been mentioned but the entertainment complex is worthy of an individual shout out. After all within Resorts World there are various restaurants, lots of shops, a casino and the 4 Star luxury Genting hotel. The casino is a 24 hour gaming experience with everything from Roulette to Poker available. VIP private rooms are available. You certainly have enough choice if you decide to explore amenities on offer within the NEC area.
Pricing and contracts
Pricing for any event is always such a variable and this is definitely the case when it comes to Christmas events. In broad terms, price will be determined by the number of people in your group, the date you want and of course what you want in terms of food, drink and entertainment. Take a look at the websites and you may be able to get a broad idea of pricing but invariably you will need to phone direct and talk through your requirements.
Once you have worked out which venue you want you will then need to complete the paperwork to secure your booking. Until the Contract is signed nothing is confirmed despite your evidence of emails and telephone calls made. If you have an offer and you know it is perfect for your group do not delay. Competition especially in December is fierce. You could easily be bumped and that would be a shame, so make signing that contract a priority. Remember once you sign a contract you will be liable for the charges that apply and not just the deposit. Check what the liability is. For example, are you contracting for minimum numbers or minimum spend? Are there any Terms and Conditions that your organisation couldn’t comply with? Once you are happy then go ahead, complete the documentation and guarantee your booking.
Don’t leave it too late!
Our final piece of advice is to start looking for your Christmas venue as soon as possible. It is just not possible to book too soon. There are always people looking for fabulous venues and you don’t want to lose out on providing your group with a really memorable event. We have highlighted some of the different types of venue that can provide a memorable Christmas event. Where you go depends on how you define having festive fun!
Any other office Christmas party ideas you’d like to add to this list? We’d love to hear your views! You can also subscribe to our weekly EventTech Talk newsletter for news and advice on all things event technology!