Festive events

EventWise managing director Penny Ellis reflects on the advantages to be gained by companies arranging shared Christmas parties

During the past three years agency EventWise has noticed a growing trend in the number of shared festive parties, with productions becoming bolder and more adventurous. In line with this, not only has the number of such events increased, but also the amount of bookings. The most surprising aspect of all is that the events are getting bigger.

Shared parties used to be for small companies that didn't want to go to a restaurant but couldn't manage a party on their own. Now companies and departments of 200 people are booking shared parties because they've realised they can get much more for their budgets, without compromising on quality. You can't get dodgems or entertainment from sword swallowers, fire-eaters and dancing showgirls in Pizza Express.

The theming is also more and more spectacular, and around London the choices are becoming significantly greater. From traditional Christmas parties in venues such as LSO St Luke's to the regal and decadent Silver & Gold at 88a St James's, Gangster's Paradise at The Bridge, Madame Butterfly at Finsbury Square or the futuristic Christmas in Space at the Showdome , almost every conceivable party theme is being implemented.

Some of these parties vary in size greatly, as do client's requirements. Christmas package Plunder the Pyramids can cater for large numbers, depending on the venue, whereas the Nash Conservatory at Kew Gardens caters for 140. It just depends on the atmosphere you're looking for and what you need from a package.

In fact, there's now so much choice that bookings are being taken earlier, so that people don't get disappointed and can go to their first choice of party. This only used to be the case for bespoke parties for large companies, so they could be sure of the date.

It all means that Christmas in the creative events industry is starting a lot earlier. It used to be December but it's now at the beginning of November and runs until February. Sooner or later I believe we will be following in the footsteps of the fashion industry and doing summer parties at Christmas and vice versa.

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