In Any Event 

Let the theme steer your holiday party

Kate Jackson, event manager for the Knoxville Convention Center.
Kate Jackson inside the Knoxville Convention Center.

Before you make any decision about the details of your holiday party, first determine the theme, according to Kate Jackson, an event planner for the Knoxville Convention Center.

Setting the event theme will guide every aspect of the party planning, and splendid ideas can be found on websites such as Pinterest, Jackson said.



The Convention Center presented a winter wonderland for one party with the room set up to feel like the interior of a snow globe. Party themes for the holidays can include rustic looks and the return of nostalgia. Other unique ideas can be found online such as these themes, which include a white Christmas and a marked departure from tradition with the “nightmare” before Christmas.

A winter martini sits on a lighted bar provided by ACES, the Convention Center's party rentals vendor.
A winter martini, as shown in the Blue Streak, sits on a lighted bar provided by ACES, the Convention Center’s party rentals vendor.

Attendees also should be encouraged to match party attire with the theme.

“For example, a tacky Christmas sweater-themed party can be hilarious,” Jackson said. “It’s always a good idea to make attire a contest. This will always motivate attendees.”

The Convention Center can deliver an assortment of menu options from sit-down dinners to buffets.

“A buffet is the easiest way to satisfy everyone at your event,” Jackson said. “Cheese plates that get passed around are always a hit, too. I recommend brie wrapped in a puff pastry with jelly in the center as a nice party snack.”

Alcohol selections also add festivity to an event. Though spiked eggnog or a Christmas punch are popular choices, you also should get creative at this time of year. For example, serve a mistletoe martini or candy cane cocktail.

“Grinch” made of Midori melon liquor, lemon juice, syrup and a cherry or strawberry for garnish makes a green-colored holiday drink.

Lighting for holiday parties can be spectacular, especially when done by a company that specializes in visual components, such as M&M Productions USA, the in-house provider for the Convention Center, both of which are clients of Moxley Carmichael.

Candy Cane cocktail from the Food Network.
Candy Cane cocktail from the Food Network.

“Putting on a good display of lights really heightens the holiday spirit at events,” Jackson said.

Jackson reminded planners to create warmth, both figuratively and literally.

“It’s important that your guests feel comfortable, so making sure the heat is properly set is an absolute must because you don’t want cold, cranky attendees,” Jackson said.

Each year, the Knoxville Convention Center and M&M Productions together handle dozens of holiday parties from small corporate groups of 50 to Fantasy of Trees, a holiday event for 60,000 people.


Jackson and Mike Brown, owner of M&M Productions, recently appeared on Mornings with Fox 43, and the clip can be viewed by clicking HERE.

A snow globe as centerpiece provides an enchanting holiday touch to a table.
A snow globe as centerpiece provides an enchanting holiday touch to a table, and also appeared in the Blue Streak.

Jackson emphasized again that selecting the theme for your holiday party is one of the most fun parts of event planning and will inform every decision you make, from the invitation and entertainment to the menu and décor.

“At the Knoxville Convention Center, we specialize in bringing holiday party themes to life,” Jackson said.

Michael Tremoulis, an intern at Moxley Carmichael, is a senior at the University of Tennessee studying public relations. When he’s not daydreaming about meeting J.D. Salinger, smoking a cigar with Winston Churchill or sharing a beer with Jack Kerouac, you can find him obsessively listening to Bob Dylan or eating a smorgasbord of meats and cheeses.

3 responses to “Let the theme steer your holiday party

  1. I love the snow globe centerpiece idea, but I got more careful about what I put in the center of the table after my favorite tiara left with a guest at an event a few years ago. Were all the snow globes still there at the end of the evening?

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