The ingredients for a perfect Christmas party

9 Nov 2022

Lifestyle, Venues

In conversation with Tim Cramp, Director of Party Ingredients

When it comes to Christmas parties, who better to share the insider’s tips and tricks, than Tim Cramp, director of Party Ingredients? The specialist event caterers and planners have over 40 years of experience and are a key part of the Searcys group.

For many of us, planning and hosting the perfect event to celebrate the festive period may seem like a daunting task. With a long list of tiny details and numerous decisions to make – from selecting glassware to colour schemes – all necessary to create a night to remember.

Throughout Tim’s career in the specialist events space, he and his team at Party Ingredients have been responsible for curating an inspiring array of outstanding events. We discuss Tim’s top Christmas party tips which he’s picked up along the way, and, to kick things off, it’s clear that hosts must not hang about if they want to bag one of the most in-demand dates during the busy festive party season.

“First of all book early! The peak week for Christmas parties is normally the second week of December and venues will get booked up well in advance”. With Thursday nights being firm favourite dates to celebrate, it’s time to block out that diary already.

Party Ingredients have infamously transformed galleries, palaces, livery halls and castles into magical venues and dreams into reality… but when it comes to choosing your space Tim shares that location is key; “try to find somewhere reasonably close to your workplace and within easy reach of public transport. That way you will maximise attendance.” It’s important to also consider the theme of your night; “do you want a very informal event with lots of dancing and entertainment or a seated meal? Choose a venue which reflects that.”

And finally, capacity must be well thought through…. “it will be hard to create a buzz if your guests are rattling around in a venue that is too large for them”, Tim explains.

If you’re looking for a venue with the utmost exclusivity, allow Party Ingredients to transport you to a world of rich heritage and entertain your guests in London’s best-loved and historic venues including Carpenter’s and Saddler’s Halls. “Our livery halls are full of history and exude refined glamour and opulence, and yet most people do not even know of their existence.” Tim says: “They were designed for entertaining and with the help of our on-site planning teams they make the task of organising an event easy and trouble-free”.

We know that adapting to different spaces is important when planning any event, but Tim shares a creative way to use this to your advantage; “If your chosen venue has several spaces, use them to create a journey for the guests throughout the evening. Try and create a different feel in each space through clever use of lighting, food stations and props”.

Party Ingredients is formed of a team of specialist event professionals – chefs, managers and service staff united to deliver a great occasion. Tim looks out for team members with “a caring can-do attitude, good communication skills and a great smile” who will be on hand to ensure the night goes seamlessly.

It appears that no challenge is too much for Party Ingredients and when a client requests a theme for their night; the team simply flourish in the opportunity to impress. Tim recalls one of their most popular festive themes, a Dickensian Christmas. “Guests are welcomed by staff in period costume serving mulled wine and hot chestnuts. Street food stalls serve British Classics including a Carvery with Chefs carving Whole Roast Turkeys and Hams, A Traditional Pie Shop, A Cheese Counter and a Victorian Sweet Shop. Street entertainers can be booked to entertain the guests as they mingle. These include pickpockets, magicians and carol singers. It makes for a great relaxed and informal party with something for everyone”. Certainly, a way to celebrate in style!

Another key part when planning your party is, of course, the food and drink. Because nothing shouts Christmas more than flowing champagne and irresistible nibbles. But with so many options to choose from, Tim suggests thinking about what would suit your guest; “sharing platters are a good way of getting guests to interact. If you are not having a seated meal, then bowl food is a great way of feeding hungry guests whilst also offering a great choice to suit different tastes”. Perhaps the most important trick is that guests must have enough to eat… “A combination of too little food and too much alcohol may mean your Christmas party is remembered for all the wrong reasons!”

On the topic of a tipple, Tim also shares that it’s the host’s responsibility to ensure that guests do not over-indulge. We love his suggestion of low-proof cocktails such as Christmas Mule served warm with pear vodka and ginger beer to start. “Avoid shots and have plenty of interesting soft drinks available” are also noteworthy tips. And whilst it’s hard not to have favourites, the “cranberry and pomegranate champagne mocktail, made with non-alcoholic sparkling wine blended with natural juice syrups sounds rather tempting to us. Tim’s still got our tastebuds tingling with his favourite festive dish at livery halls this year; “Fillet of Beef Wellington carved by chefs just before serving. An all-time favourite for everyone” – yes, please!