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.
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.
A “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.
“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 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.