Nov 28th 2019

4 Christmas Party Planning Shortcuts

4 Christmas Party Planning Shortcuts

As experienced event planners, the TLC team know a few tricks of the trade when it comes to creating a fabulous but stress-free Christmas party. And when it comes to organising your Christmas party at home, our team of experts is on hand to help you this year with 4 Christmas Party Planning Shortcuts that a big on style, and low on stress! You know, those little Christmas party planning secrets that will elevate your party so that it looks like it was lifted straight out of the pages of a glossy magazine, with minimal effort. All the glamour – no stress!

Limited budget? Short on time? Tired, stressed and trying to squeeze your party planning in amongst the growing list of festive tasks? No problem. Follow our 4 Christmas Party Planning Shortcuts below and we’re sure you’ll be hosting a party to remember for all the right reasons. But shhhhhh, don’t tell everybody…

Events director Jess Randall shares décor ideas to delight your guests.

“I’d always recommend sticking to one colour palette when decorating your room and the festive table. Decorations don’t have to be expensive, but if you stick to the same colour palette throughout – you’ll create a look that’s far more elegant than the price tag suggests! Introduce tones of a rich deep red and use a colour fade effect to take it through to the palest pink. Navy blue, through sky blue to lightest turquoise works brilliantly with a touch of silver for a contemporary look. Or opt for a modern white and silver scheme – perhaps adding a deep grey or natural green accent.

4 Christmas Party Planning Shortcuts

“I’m also a huge fan of DIY, especially if you’re quite artistic. You can achieve some really high end looks at a fraction of the price and with minimal effort.

“One idea is to create a stylish festive table topper by measuring your dining table and getting a piece of clear Perspex cut to fit. Arrange winter foliage, flowers and inexpensive decorations (they need to be flat) on top of your table, then simply place the Perspex over it all. Weight this down for a few hours, so that the table top is flat. It provides a gorgeous setting upon which to dine – and a real talking point! I have also done this with old newspapers, magazines and Christmas artwork created by a client’s children too, to create a unique festive table-top!”

4 Christmas Party Planning Shortcuts

“Our 4 Christmas Party Planning Shortcuts is about saving time, without losing style.  So I look for lovely shortcuts that do double duty as décor and dessert. For example, with a rustic design (popular this year) have small bowls of satsumas, apples and nuts lining a table which can be eaten with dessert or a cheese course, and add in simple candles for light.  Have iced gingerbread as place markers and a sweet treat with coffee (you can buy these of course and just ice the names on!). Or have a lazy Susan in the centre of the table – dress with mini desserts, tealights, fruits and goodies to give a stunning focal point and sharing dessert.

4 Christmas Party Planning Shortcuts

Feeling inspired by Elsa and Ana in Frozen 2 or simply looking to create a frost-covered winter wonderland for your party. Well our very own ice queen Jess, shares some of her coolest ideas in our 4 Christmas Party Planning Shortcuts; including a show-stopping centre-piece.

“A simple and easy icy tip is to buy lemons and limes in advance. Cut into slices. Lay flat on a tray and freeze. Once frozen, place into a bag and keep in the freezer. Then, simply add to drinks as you need at the party. They help to keep the G&T chilled and add little citrus hit too! Similarly, you can place cranberries, raspberries or blackberries and a little water into ice cube trays and freeze. They make for fun festive ice cubes!

“One of my all-time favourite party hacks that looks sensational is to create the most amazing seasonal table centre with a frozen vodka or tequila bottle. Here’s how you do it: cut the top off a 1 litre plastic bottle and place a 770ml bottle of vodka, tequila or whatever sprit you fancy inside. Gin is still very much having a moment, as is flavoured or premium vodka. Fill between the plastic bottle and bottle of booze with distilled water and place leaves, berries, sprigs of herbs, holly, seasonal berries and sliced oranges around the side. Stand this carefully in your freezer and leave for at least three hours or until everything freezes. When your party is in full swing and you want to serve, simply run the plastic bottle sleeve quickly under a tap. It will slide it off to reveal a festive ice-wrap around the bottle.”

Create a feast of festive fayre with these insider tips from TLC’s answer to Mary Berry, festive foodie Frankie Lyons.

Let’s face it, we don’t all have the time to be cooking and freezing endless mince pies weeks in advance of a festive get together. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with buying from a good local bakery and piling them high on a cake stand in the centre of your table. Sprinkle your haul with icing sugar (make a template in the shape of a star out of cereal box cardboard, and sprinkle icing sugar through this to give the pies a professional finish). Dress the plate with festive garden greenery, satsumas, nuts, chocolates and some sprayed pinecones to create a festive table decoration and dessert in one!

If you are happy to bake – the easiest trick is to simply bake dessert in festive shaped moulds. Christmas trees, Santa, Rudolph….all available as small metal baking cutters or cake tins in discount stores. Use as a mold for chocolate orange brownies or festive flavoured cheesecakes – we love rum and raisin! Simple.

And for the children, a hot chocolate station is included in our 4 Christmas Party Planning Shortcuts.  The difference – you simply make the hot chocolate in a slow cooker to save time slaving over a hob, and leave on low to keep warm.  Minimal management needed.  Have an array of toppings for kids to help themselves to; cream, marshmallows, sprinkles and perhaps Brandy for the parents!  Serve in inexpensive Christmas cups (which they can use as a take-home present) with a candy cane on the side. Delicious and fun.

Party like an A-lister and ramp up the glamour, without the big budget price tag, with these simple switches from our CEO and creative director Liz Taylor.

Forget expensive champagne. Switch it up using sparkling wines such as Cava or Prosecco or one of the ‘own brands’ that always do well in blind taste tests. Mix with Pomegranate juice and dress with a sprig of Rosemary to create a ‘Poinsettia’ cocktail – gorgeous – or satsuma juice for a pimped-up Bucks Fizz. Any good celebrity party focuses on presentation though, so look for interesting glasses to serve them in. Vintage champagne goblets are always a favourite with my clients – you can scour car boot sales for them. An uber stylish way to serve up cocktails.

“Souper Canapes. Canapes may be featured at many celebrity parties, but they can be expensive to buy and time consuming to make. Try this. Buy inexpensive vintage tea pots and china cups (e-bay, jumble sales) and then make a quick homemade veggie soup (or buy a good chilled soup if you prefer). Pour the hot soup from the tea pots and serve as ‘canape’s in the china tea cups. Very stylish.

“A huge trend at celebrity parties is to personalise the guest’s party experience. This can be done simply. Buy individual baking pots with lids from discount shops (similar in style to Le Creuset, but far less expensive). Make one homemade casserole, but decant and serve in the individual dishes. A rustic treat! Place individual gravy jugs and salt and pepper pots at every place setting. Looks so much more stylish. Buy chocolate plaques and have them iced with guest’s names (Thornton’s chocolate stores can help here!). They are great as a place marker and chocolate treats with coffee! “

If you enjoyed our 4 Christmas Party Planning Shortcuts, check this out too: Festive Brunch 

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 Nov 7th 2019

Liz Taylor Launches New Company

Event Entrepreneur and TV’s ‘Millionaire Party Planner’ Launches New Company

With 30 years of events management, entertainment industry and business experience, Liz Taylor – company founder and MD of Manchester-based event planners the Taylor Lynn Corporation (TLC) – has now embarked on a new business challenge. This month she launches her personal management company, Liz Taylor Consultancy.

Liz Taylor Launches New Company

During a successful event management career, Liz has planned thousands of business and private events across the UK and Europe. She has worked with some of the country’s top business leaders, showbusiness icons, world-class brands, Royal clients, sports personalities, media giants, music legends and high-profile entrepreneurs, in addition to appearing as Channel 4’s ‘Millionaire Party Planner’. And from her success, has evolved a series of additional roles and projects which she will now bring together under the umbrella of her new business.

Liz Taylor Consultancy combines Liz’s growing UK and international public speaking engagements, media work as an expert contributor to TV and radio programmes such as ITV This Morning and BBC Breakfast, and music management for exclusive bands and individual artists. This sits alongside a growing portfolio of marketing consultancy for clients such as the luxury Lone Star Boutique Hotel in Barbados and the Renovatio Clinic in Cheshire.

Liz commented: “This is a hugely exciting development for me personally. Over the last two years I have been asked to provide marketing advice to a range of hospitality and luxury brand projects such as hotels, retail businesses and restaurants, as well undertake as a calendar of public speaking engagements to business and professional groups. It’s a chance for me to share my knowledge and skills with other businesses, and I love it.”

“Occasions when I work with the media, offering thoughts and advice on trending stories, has always been an interesting and fun part of my event management work. And with 30 years of experience to draw upon and thousands of events organised, it is also a growing area of opportunity for me. I enjoy the challenge of providing knowledgeable, interesting and colourful opinions on a range of topics, but also something that provokes conversation and that audiences will respond to.”

She added: “I am still very much the creative influence and business strategist behind TLC though, and I will certainly continue at the helm of the company that I have built and love. A new structure at TLC will afford me the time to invest in developing the consultancy on a more formal basis. It is something that I am passionate to achieve, alongside celebrating TLC’s 25th anniversary next year and delivering on a host of client events that we have booked. Busy times ahead!”

For details about TLC, visit www.tlc-ltd.co.uk and for Liz Taylor Consultancy, visit www.liz-taylor-consulting.co.uk

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 Oct 30th 2019

Planning the Perfect Christmas Party

Planning the Perfect Christmas Party

Liz Taylor, founder and MD of the Taylor Lynn Corporation, took time out of her events schedule to share her tips on planning the perfect Christmas Party with guests who were invited to a networking lunch at Sheffield’s stunning Whirlowbrook Hall, part of Vine Hotels. Guests had the opportunity to hear advice and anecdotes from this award-winning event organiser. Here’s what she had to say:

“It’s only 90 days away and you can’t take the Christmas out of Christmas.”

But everyone does have a different perception of Christmas and there is no right way or wrong way. What is essential is that in planning the perfect Christmas Party, you take a drop of eggnog, a bunch of mistletoe, raise the curtain and kiss goodbye to the old, as you celebrate bringing in the new. In any event, expectations are high – especially in my world, where the client has turned to a professional to create the theatre.

corporate event planners in manchester tlc limited

Festive trends

As founder and MD of the Taylor Lynn Corporation, I have been planning and producing corporate and private events for over 30 years. The 5am starts and the 2am finishes. The constant challenge to reinvent, reinterpret and re-energise an event. The bigger the challenge, the greater the sense of achievement. I am passionate about what I do. I want to share with you a little of the theatre, drama, passion and backbone; with my tips to planning the perfect Christmas party.

I often get asked early in the year what the coming trends are for this much anticipated time. This year I am in the middle of designing and delivering a Christmas dinner for 80 guests in a marquee immersed in chocolate brown velvet, pull out crackers with menu details and guests names at each place setting printed in a lush copper plate. A deconstructed Christmas tree decorated with bronze and copper foliage and baubles – all built on a square truss overhead, so it becomes the roof of the dining space. A gospel choir during reception entertaining with Christmas favourites, and a band from Paris to rock the room. So, I’ve taken some traditional and mixed it with a variety of colours and textures to give it that touch of TLC.

Planning the perfect Christmas Party inevitably attracts trends. We have provided the décor for private clients where they have spent circa £50k on dressing door frames, trees, banisters. These had to reflect the traditional New York and American movie vision of Christmas that we soak up in those old films.

Then there is the contemporary – where you select ice baubles and use them as name places, throw faux skins over the back of chairs. Then put the light-up reindeer in the front garden. Twee? Maybe. But providing it’s tucked behind a tree, it’s fun.

Be bold with colours and dare to be different. Teal, deep reds, copper, gold, orange shades – the rich hues that can be found in winter flowers and foliage.  In this vain, I’ve just bought 24 copper water glasses which are amazing for £1 each. They will sit at my table on Christmas Day amongst the wood, the bark and tiny tea lights; offering a rustic feel. My Christmas this year is natural bark – baccara roses and candles.

But what of corporate Christmas. For me, there are three vital ingredients that contribute to the TLC wow factor in planning the perfect Christmas Party, and are the basis for a successful event – exclusive imagination, individuality and that moment least expected. Let me explain……

Exclusive imagination

Its allowing someone to think out of the box and take a concept and create magic. Here’s an example. A 21st birthday – the girl who still had the magic of youth and wanted Narnia. And Narnia she got.

Set designers descended and built a magnificent wardrobe door. Creatively lit this was the focus as guests drove into the car park. Our Narnia queen guided them in – through a wardrobe of mink coats that touched the sides into a walkway of characters on stilts and a pathway of leaves. As they walked along the path, they turned a corner with two huskies on a sleigh guiding them into Narnia. Continuing their journey through the snow – with snowflakes falling from the ceiling, before eventually arriving in Narnia. Perspex tables with magnificent white birch trees growing out of them, and a multitude of candles against crystal glassware and opaque crockery. A combination of Narnia and a white Christmas. Anticipation, exclamation and exclusive imagination in abundance.

Exclusive imagination – of ideas, of concepts, of entertainment and of venues. Infusing your Christmas event with some exclusive touches can make all the difference. Take this venue, here at Whirlowbrook Hall, as an example. Exclusive hire means you can party here until the early hours without worrying about the DJ upsetting anyone next door. Hire the space, and you are lord and lady of the manor. Dress the space to your own taste and you’re assured of the staff’s full attention – no sharing them with other companies.

When it comes to entertainment – invest in the best. I only work with exclusive entertainers – phenomenal ensemble bands and the best DJs from the continent. Companies will often ask me to just book their Christmas party entertainment because they know that we don’t offer average. My belief is that this is an area where a little more should be invested. When we orgnaise parties and clients ask if we have a DJ for £150, we don’t. You get what you pay for and mixing music is an art in itself.

 

corporate event planners in manchester tlc limited

Related Topic: Can you Host a Christmas Party in January?

Individuality

Individual interpretation is a bit part of planning the perfect Christmas Party. As I said before, you can’t take Christmas out of Christmas, but you can interpret it in a unique style. Take every element of the party and re-imagine it. Food is a great example. We fuse food and theatre to great effect. The rise in informal catering has allowed us to be imaginative. Sushi bars. Gourmet pizza. And a traditional fish and chip van as guests depart. Food stations merging into theatrical props. For a more formal meal – take the traditional Christmas turkey and transform it into individual pies served miniature jugs of gravy on the side. Sticky toffee pudding served in shot glasses. And Christmas pudding – serve as a martini. Yes, it is a cocktail!

My most inspiring moments are honestly on my treadmill every morning. With my eclectic mix on full blast music takes me into a most creative corner where I find the impossible. For a Wizard of Oz inspired party, we offered a 10-foot witch greeting guests – and I mean greeting them. A custom-built animated statue guided them into a wicked inspired set, and then at the appropriate time, the entire wall dropped and there was the yellow brick road. The detail in the room and on the tables was insane, with Perspex tables resting on large ruby red shoes. The entertainment … Diana ross and a serious DJ! Now that’s wow.

Putting your own mark on an event is all about the details.

The moment least expected

This is the greatest wow factor moment planning the perfect Christmas Party. When a wall drops on a drum roll … when pyrotechnics burst into the room to announce employee of the year or when a ceiling drops hundreds of hidden petals when they say, ‘I do’.

Take a festive party for a financial services client. Guests ferried in private cars to a farmer’s field in Surrey [a surprise in itself for the well-dressed guests]. Walking on a purpose-built footpath carved through wintry woodland – and then – a stunning marquee nestled in the landscape and sprinkled with TLC’s winter magic. Oversized frosted trees. A spectacular lighting production bathing the rustic wooden bar and tables in light. This surprise venue created out of a challenge. We scoured the county for the right venue – no luck. When I hit a brick wall, I start digging. If we don’t have a venue – we build one. We hired a farmer’s field and erected a fabulous marquee. We cut back the woodland to create an entrance walkway – placed hundreds of candles along the way and voila! A wow moment for festive party goers that they will remember.

corporate event planners in manchester tlc limited

And let’s not forget one of the most surprising moments at any Christmas party. When the Duke of Cambridge bounds onto a stage to sing Livin’ on a Prayer with Jon Bon Jovi and Taylor Swift. A charity event that I was involved with on just two weeks’ notice. Dr Zhivago inspired. Kensington Palace the venue. The guest list a Who’s Who. The photos of the Prince and the Rock Stars went global.

Exclusive imagination, individuality and the moment least expected…. three of my top tips to planning the perfect Christmas Party.

All well and good you might say – these sound like unlimited budgets. My mantra is that it’s never how much you spend, but how you spend it. If you have £500 to throw into a reception – don’t invest it in an inexperienced and underrated musical act. Invest it in a ten-foot vase filled with an abundance of flower heads that takes the breath away. Or a bar full of festive inspired cocktails served in a milk bottle that oozes dry ice and sustainable branded straws! Paper of course!

planning the perfect Christmas Party

At home, styling can be simple but effective too. Take the festive lunch table. Here’s three different styles you could choose from:

Contemporary Chic

If you are opting for linens, a contemporary feel should use a plain, white, crisp tablecloth as your starting point. Bring your table to life with a gorgeous electric blue silk table runner. Use clear and blue ‘crackled effect’ glassware to enhance the colour scheme. Place tall candles into crystal or glass holders and put chunkier ones straight onto mirrors down the table centre. Dress with frosted ivy, twigs, pinecones and leaves. Crockery and cutlery are always best kept simple with contemporary white linens, so opt for silver or chrome cutlery. Add lots of miniature ‘snowflake’ crystals for sparkle and you’ll have an elegant, contemporary table.

corporate event planners in manchester tlc limited

Downton Inspired

Or go more traditional in planning the perfect Christmas Party – Downton Abbey is influencing styles again with its recent reincarnation at the cinema. Black Watch Tartan linens and deep purple napkins tied with a gold napkin ring. Add some traditional glamour to this look by using gold candelabra on the table, or some of the fabulous deep gold candles now available. The gold in this style should be deep, and rich, not the highly polished commercial look. You are creating a very traditional and slightly vintage feel, so a more burnished gold is better.

 

Handmade or Homemade

Let’s not forget, and TV’s Kirsty Allsopp would be proud of me here, that the ‘handmade’ family Christmas style is still popular. Choose a very simple red gingham cloth and then adorn with homemade décor items. Create a table centre out of a three miniature gingerbread houses filled with chunky candles, or hessian wrapped bowls of nuts, cinnamon sticks, dried oranges and pinecones. It’ll be wonderfully scented. Just add simple tea lights and red napkins tied with raffia to complete the look.

Glassware is something that really shows quality – don’t leave the crystal in the cupboard, get it out and enjoy it! A simple tip is to tie matching Black Watch Tartan ribbon around the stem of each glass; you could even add a delicate sleigh bell for additional tinkle! For a more earthy Christmas style, add a hessian bow to some of the chunkier wine glasses to reflect the less formal feel of the table.

Personalise your table for maximum effect. The first way to do this is with your crackers, which must be quality whether that is bought or homemade. Try using different paper or materials to craft them with personalised gifts inside.

The other key personal touch is your place settings. You could get your children to craft gingerbread name plates with iced names written on top, or simply write names in gold pen onto holly leaves or a plain glass bauble that matches your colour scheme. Simple. Inexpensive.

Christmas parties arranged by the Taylor Lynn Corporation the party planner in Manchester

To conclude

I have said this before, but it’s truer now than ever. After 30 years I get up event morning, decide what diet I am on that day, and then embrace the madness. I love it. I am lucky enough to have worked in my dream job. My team inspire me. My events challenge me still.

2020 marks TLC’s 25th anniversary – a time to reflect, celebrate and innovate. We have plans. Big plans. No sitting on our laurels. We are forging into 2020 with a healthy order book, unlimited imagination and a hunger to take the company to new levels. Bring it on!

www.whirlowbrook.co.uk

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