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Which Holiday Event Clichés Should Planners Avoid?

From boring photo booth props to predictable gifts and color palettes, these are the holiday party ideas to leave behind this season.

(Pictured, left to right) Toni Short, Derek Anderson, Joy Eisenberg
(Pictured, left to right) Toni Short, Derek Anderson, Joy Eisenberg
Photos: Courtesy of Readers

“Photo booth props on sticks. Let’s put down all the stick mustaches, lips, and hats this holiday season, and instead let’s film memories. Install a video room that will capture all the messages from you and your work squad, which will be remembered for years to come.”
Toni Short, chief experience officer, Shortlist Agency, New York

“When it comes to holiday events, there are plenty of clichés in design. One particular cliché that we’re always faced with is traditional color palettes. Though a classic red-and-green color scheme is always a safe bet, we like to mix it up and bring a fresh look to holiday occasions. Some of my favorite color palettes that I suggest are ones like purple and copper or a bold black, gold, and white.”
Derek Anderson, senior designer, In the Event, Salt Lake City

“Spruce up a tired tradition of traditional gift-giving by making it meaningful. Try incorporating the gifts into event decor to make an on-site visual impact, or incorporating a charitable component.”
Joy Eisenberg, project coordinator, Sequence, New York

“December parties. Do them in January. We only take one event at a time, and we’re in friendly competition with the talent buyers who are booking holiday shows. And on the client end, their staff has worked hard all year, and they’re still recovering from Thanksgiving. In January, it’s mostly crickets. And wouldn’t your honored guests value a celebration all the more—starting the year off being appreciated?”
Theresa Altgilbers, director of event sales, Park West, Chicago

“This holiday season, leave the ugly sweaters packed away, the white elephant gifts on the shelves, and have your team or a group of friends adopt a family for the holidays through a local school or church. The organization will provide a list of ages, sizes, and their needs. Include this information in your invitation and turn your holiday gathering into a true gift-giving event. Designate to your guests who and what they are responsible for to avoid too many of one item and not enough of the other. Create a clothes bundle for each family member, a fun gift, and make each family member feel special. Create a food item basket for the family to have a special holiday meal together. Do something that will make all attendees feel special and not stressed.”
Marcilene Smith, event coordinator, Emerson Resort & Spa, Mount Tremper, New York

“Having a dry event. Planning a holiday event without wine or spirits is a fabulous way to host a party that no one will want to remember. Don’t underestimate what a great wine or mezcal can overshadow if your budget is tight.”
Nicholas Ruiz, co-founder, Troupe429: LGBTQ Bar & Performance Space, Norwalk, Connecticut

“I’d like to see more holiday parties avoid the crush of December and, instead, plan parties for January. It’s the same party and the same budget, but in January when venue and vendor prices are much lower, prime spaces are less in demand, and the company and the planner aren’t trying to circumvent families’ holiday plans and travel schedules, other social events, and maneuver through the minefield of holiday observances. The company definitely gets more bang for their buck. I’d rather have a swanky party in January than a mediocre party in December where I’m scrambling from one event to the other anyway. Plus, the added bonus of a January party is that in a traditionally dead part of the year, everyone still has something awesome to look forward to.”
Jacob Andrew Altenberg, corporate events manager and creative director, Jacob Andrew Designs, New York

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