There are hundreds of stories out there about holiday parties and most of them involve too much alcohol consumption, clients passing out in bathroom stalls, bad karaoke songs like “I’m Too Sexy” by Right Said Fred, inappropriate inter-office employee mingling or sharing TMI with your boss. Having planned a number of holiday parties, there aren’t too many things that surprise me but there sure are a lot of juicy stories to share. These are my confessions of a holiday party planner.
All I want for Christmas…
Following a couple days of business meetings this international company was holding their holiday party at one of my favorite hotels in Vancouver. The employees came from all over the world and it was a great opportunity to bring everyone together. A formal holiday party with stunning décor, impressive entertainment, lavish cocktail reception and full sit down dinner followed by a 12-piece band. Things couldn’t have gone smoother and while it had been a long night I was happily saying good night to all the guests when a couple of gentlemen who happened to be executives from another country far away approached me with a very important request. At first it was difficult to understand them with their accents and they were very polite and quite serious. Could I please get them ‘ladies of the night’. That’s right! They want what!? For once I was speechless and didn’t know how to respond without offending these executives. I told them I didn’t know where they could find such ‘ladies’ and it was illegal in Canada but perhaps the concierge could point them in the right direction. My sincerest apologies to that hotel concierge.
I’m in my pajamas!
Many companies hold their holiday parties in hotels and provide rooms for their guests, which is a great idea to avoid anyone attempting to drive after celebrating. It was another long night and after being on my feet all day and night I was finally crawling into my hotel room around 2:30am (I had a room because I had to tear down all the decor in the morning). Some time around 4am my hotel room phone rang and it was the front desk informing me of a situation on the 4th floor that required my immediate attention. Sleepy and confused I struggled to throw a coat over my pj’s and put on a pair of shoes. When I got to the 4th floor I saw 2 security guards, a front desk manager and other hotel staff huddled around someone or something. As I cautiously approached, the staff were trying to talk to a very intoxicated man who somehow lost his pants. What was I supposed to do with this guy? The front desk manager figured since this man had attended my group’s holiday party that I’d know what to do. He couldn’t tell us his name or room number and we couldn’t just leave him in the hallway with no pants. So I convinced the hotel decided to find him another room to let him sleep it off and hopefully find his pants in the morning. I never did find out his name and have no idea if he went to the front desk in the morning to claim his pants.
A rockstar is revealed…
It’s my opinion that great companies host great holiday parties. A few years back I was fortunate to be involved with a truly great organization that wanted to celebrate their team’s success by hosting the ultimate holiday party in Las Vegas. The affair was a 2-day getaway with a night out on the town. The biggest challenge a holiday planner faces in this scenario is coordinating an event that caters to the hipster intern and also the seasoned accountant who’s worked for the company for over 30 years. In the end, the we opted for a high-end dinner, a cirque-style show, and a VIP club experience, the type Sin City is known for. When it came time to head to the club, there was some grumbling from an older female in the group so I became worried that she would ruin it for everyone else and make me look bad in the process. Immediately after getting settled into our VIP booth, the universe delivered exactly what was needed to ensure her happiness for the remainder of the night…Billy Idol! As luck would have it, Billy was in the same VIP area and after setting his eyes on my older guest, he came over and plucked her out of the crowd of 20-somethings. Many people didn’t know who he was (I guess he was from before their time) but my older guest knew exactly who he was and grinned from ear-to-ear while he grabbed her hand and led her away to join his entourage. I kept checking on her throughout the evening and at one point, I saw her discreetly remove her wedding ring, caress his washboard abs, and be escorted to the washroom. But before anything illicit happened, the guilt came over her and she decided to say good-bye. The Billy Idol fantasy was over but the high remained and I became the real rock star of the evening. Everyone wondered if I had made it all happen. Some secrets absolutely need to be kept.
I have many more confessions, but I think I’ll keep them to myself for a little while longer.
While the holiday season is still 5 months away companies should be thinking about where to hold their party and book sooner then later to avoid any last minute scrambling. Check out eventsage.com for great venue ideas and quick, easy, automated booking.