5 Event Pitfalls To Avoid This Holiday Season

With the Holidays quickly approaching, we thought we would share some common event pitfalls you can use to plan a successful celebration. Avoid these and you’re sure to be voted the “best party host” this Holiday Season! (FYI – These are universal pitfalls no matter what time of year to avoid!)

Pitfall #1 – Over Abundance of Alcohol

The cornerstone of most Holiday parties is the alcohol, we’ve all seen the bad “B” movies about Holidays parties that have gone wrong with too much consumption, it conjures up images that make HR professionals cringe. There are several ways in which you can curb consumption and help your guests enjoy themselves without over consuming and becoming the obnoxious party goer that can ruin it for everyone.

Remedy: Signature Cocktails

  • Create a Signature Cocktail that fits the Holiday Spirit and/or theme of your event. By choosing a signature cocktail, alongside a wine or beer choice, gives your guests a few options without having an “open bar” at their disposal. In most cases the signature cocktail can be made with a mixer to help dilute the alcohol contents of the beverage.
  • The other benefit of limiting the amount of alcohol available is the cost savings. Limiting the amount of drinks available, keeps your costs in check and ensures you won’t receive an inflated, and unexpected, bill at the end of the evening.
  • Signature cocktails should be designed to elevate the experience / theme. The drinks should be aligned with the purpose of the celebration. If it doesn’t align with the goals, then toss the idea and go to the next or forego the beverage all together. It’s important to determine what you want your guests’ experience to be before moving forward with any decisions about the celebration.

Pitfall #2 – Griswold Holiday Dilemma

Don’t fall into the trap, like Clark  Griswold did in the classic movie “Xmas Vacation.” This applies to corporate celebrations, as well as, private celebrations.


  • Keep it Simple & Elegant. Keeping the environment and experience simple helps keep your guests relaxed so they can enjoy themselves. If there is too much sensory stimulation it can become more of a nuisance and they will want to bolt as quickly as possible. The most decorated house on the street isn’t the ideal party location.
  • Know your limitations. If you’re planning on doing most of the work yourself, know your limitations. Throwing a celebration is not the time to “practice” something new. Be realistic on how much time you have in your schedule to devote to the celebration. This ensures you have fun alongside your guests.
  • Devise a plan. Be sure to make a plan, no matter how simple or complicated you need it to be. Simply writing down all the things you need to accomplish helps keep everything on target before the first guest arrives. Remember to ask for help if your list is too large to tackle.

Pitfall #3 – “Ho Hum” Experience

We’ve all been to a celebration that was dull.  Most guests won’t stay long if this is the case.  Don’t let your celebration fall into this trap. Find ways to engage your guests, ice breakers, ways in which to get them talking amongst each other, especially if the attendees don’t necessarily know each other.


  • Activities to keep guests engaged. Props for photos, color themes, and ice breaking games get people talking to each other and interacting. Design the space to generate a flow to keep guests moving. Don’t place the drinks next to the food, separate the room and if you can create food/drink stations in various parts of the room to keep guests moving around. Same would hold true if you have activities (photo booths, gaming, etc.) Layout the floor plan to keep guests engaged.
  • Make the experience purposeful – Support a Charity. Because it’s the Holidays, find ways to encourage everyone to get involved. Ask everyone to bring a toy that will be donated to a local charity. Purchase items and create a wrapping station for guests to wrap gifts for the needy. There are so many ways a celebration/party can turn into a charity focus that truly demonstrates the culture and values of your organization or circle of friends.
  • Music selection is key. Christmas music is great mixed into your music selections but having some current upbeat music playing as well helps to elevate the party atmosphere. Strategically create high and low levels throughout the evening to keep it interesting.

Pitfall #4 – Poor Timing

First and foremost, know your audience. This will help you know the best type and timing of celebration based on your guests’ needs. Choose a time that you believe most guests would be able to attend and not come up with an excuse not too! It’s a busy time of year for everyone, so when you’re planning, find a time that best fits their lives.


  • To maximize attendance – choose a Week Day Happy Hour. Happy Hours after work mid-week are some of the best days/times to hold a Holiday celebration. Most won’t have commitments and they won’t miss out on too much “family time” by attending an early evening celebration.
  • Gift Wrapping Get Together – Lunch or Early Afternoon. This is a great way to get together during the holidays, and get much needed tasks done,  This kind of get together can be planned for a weekend during day time hours and getting together with friends to tackle the wrapping is a fun way to get it all done and still enjoy the Holidays.
  • A party planned around a specific event people want to attend. For example, a lighted boat parade, or tree lighting ceremony in your community.  Most towns/cities have these types of events during the holidays and everyone enjoys the pageantry that goes along with these events, so planning a get-together before or after one of these planned community events usually ensures attendance.

Pitfall #5 – Waste of Time for Your Guests

Plan a Holiday Party that you would want to attend.   Make it memorable and entertaining, from your food selections, and design elements to your planned activities and music selection.


  • Create an unforgettable experience. Find ways to ensure your guests are connected to each other. This interaction makes it most memorable. Create ways to get guests to get to know each other, create memories together that last a life time.
  • Make it About Your Guests. If you know your guests likes and dislikes, it’s simple to create something they will enjoy. Take the time to design an experience making your guests feel special.
  • Design elements and activities that will leave your guests talking about what a great party it was and wanting more. It’s all in the details. If you want to elevate your party, find simple and small creative ways to propel the purpose/theme. While it may be simple, all of the details working harmoniously together makes for a party your guests won’t forget.

As you think about your upcoming celebrations we have some exciting news to share! We’ve created a new division of services: Signature Shindigs, It’s All About the Details!  Let us help you Elevate your party Experience. Customized and packaged experiences that is sure to make your guests take notice!

Have a safe and Happy Holiday Season!


Trace Kingham
Trace Kingham
TRACE is a seasoned event strategist with an expertise in helping nonprofit organizations improve event outcomes. Trace has over 25-years of experience developing the vision, strategies, and standards for organizations looking to improve their event experiences or looking to create something bold and new. Trace founded Kingham Signature Events in June 2014. In this short amount of time relocating to Tampa Bay, he has been producing events for many widely recognized local and global organizations, such as SYKES Enterprises, Inc., Heart Gallery of Tampa, Girls Scouts of West Central Florida and the National American Red Cross, just to name a few. Trace and his family relocated to Tampa Bay for his husband’s career move to Moffitt Cancer Center from Columbus, Ohio. Prior to forming his own firm in Ohio, Trace worked for Limited Brands as an Event Manager. He started his career in events with the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association Foundation in Miami, Florida before working as an Event Manager for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio. Trace and his husband have two adopted sons and Trace currently sits on the board of the Heart Gallery of Pinellas and Pasco, which supports finding forever homes for at-risk youth in the foster care system.

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