How to Plan a Last-Minute Holiday Party

Just because you’re late to planning, doesn’t mean you still can’t have a memorable holiday party. Traditional hotel rooms and restaurants get booked up quickly and offer a rather lackluster experience. Instead, book a unique venue and custom catering to get guests excited to attend.

We partnered with ezCater and put together a list of tips so your guests will never know it was a last-minute effort.

Art Deco Inspired Club

Tips on finding the perfect space:

Go unconventional

If you’re late to planning, chances are many traditional venues and restaurants will already be booked. Instead, look for unconventional venues like this industrial warehouse or swanky loft.   Not only are these spaces more likely to be available, but they’ll offer a more unique experience that will leave guests impressed.    

Make it convenient  

While offbeat locations can be a fun way to mix up your holiday party, if it’s down to the wire, make sure the space is in a convenient location. You don’t want guests looking for hotel rooms or other means of transportation if the venue is too far. Instead, look for a space that is located close to public transportation or in the same area as your office.

Nix the fixer-upper

Choosing a theme or finding decorations is the last thing you want to think about when planning a last minute party. To make your life easier, choose a venue that already has good bones like a  distillery, industrial warehouse, or art gallery. These unique spaces already have built-in eye candy so you won’t need to worry about sprucing up a space with decorations.

River North Art Gallery, Chicago

Don’t forget about A/V

It might be difficult to hire a last minute DJ so choose a space that already has a built in sound system. That way you can play everyone’s favorite songs from your phone, no DJ required.

Keep your options open

If you’re planning down to the wire, try not to have your heart set on just one venue because it might already be booked. By opening up your search, you’ll have better odds in nailing down a space that fits your needs. Pro tip: Message several hosts on Peerspace to better your chances on finding a space for your preferred date.

Outsource for help

If you’re overwhelmed with your never ending to-do list, let our Concierge team handle the logistics. From catering to furniture rentals to AV equipment, our Concierge Services can organize any additional services needed to make your holiday party a success. After you book a space, just email [email protected] with the services you need and they’ll take care of the rest!

Looking for a unique holiday party venue? See where they’ve been hiding. 

ez catering tips

Tips on ordering catering:

Know your team’s preferences

Maybe you’re an office full of health nuts and an organic smoothie bar would be a hit. Maybe your group is full of carnivores who’d go crazy for a BBQ buffet. Choose food that’s tasty and that fits your company’s culture. Even though you’re short on time, it only takes a couple hours to pull together an online survey and poll the group for any dietary restrictions or preferences. You don’t want any of your guests to feel left out (or worse—hungry).

Save time on setup

On the day of the party, you’ll likely be running around to arrange a billion little details. Look for a caterer who can not only deliver the food, but will also take the time to set it up and label it, if necessary. The last thing you want to worry about is hunting for the gluten-free dish, or making sure the setup is presentable.

Order smart

When you’re on a tight deadline, you’ll make quicker decisions if you’re armed with the right information. You want to order enough food, but you don’t want to be stuck with leftovers. If you’re serving appetizers during a cocktail hour, figure 5-7 pieces per person. If you’re doing all appetizers and no dinner, order 10-12 pieces per person. Follow the advice on your caterer’s menu to ensure that you don’t waste food and your company’s money.


Consider something special

Even though you’re putting the party together at the last minute, you don’t have to settle for the quickest and cheapest option if you don’t want to. Many companies have a special budget for the annual holiday party. Take advantage of that by ordering food that may be out of your budget for a regular lunch. The annual holiday party is an opportunity to show your appreciation for the team. Going above and beyond with the food is a great place to start.

Lean on your caterer’s expertise

If you’re short on time and want an easy option, look for a caterer that offers an all-inclusive package. Especially around the holidays, many caterers add crowd-pleasing, one-click packages to their menus. This takes away the stress of assembling a meal your party guests will like, and gives you time to focus on other things. If you need help finding a last-minute caterer, ezCater’s concierge support team is always happy to help. Reach out by phone, email, or chat, and they’ll take it from there.

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