Tips for winter event planning

December 12, 2023

If you’re planning an occasion and looking for winter events advice, there are a range of things to keep in mind. This season brings its own advantages and potential limitations, so the prospect of organising an event takes on a unique set of considerations.

Whether it’s a festive gathering, a public event or a corporate function, giving careful thought to the challenges and opportunities around wintertime will help you make it a success.

In this guide to winter event planning, we’ll explore practical tips for indoor and outdoor events, focusing on key factors that will help your event run smoothly.

Things to consider in winter event planning

Planning a winter event is mainly about showing everyone a good time. From weatherproofing plans to choosing the right venue and creating a welcoming atmosphere, paying attention to details will ensure an enjoyable experience for your guests.

Whether it’ll be held indoors or outdoors, embracing the winter spirit will help your event feel like a magical celebration and leave a lasting impression. Here are some things to consider before you start planning.

Weather conditions

Check weather forecasts regularly leading up to the date and have a backup plan for outdoor events, in case of inclement weather. Think about the different ways the weather could impact your event and influence attendance, whether it’s travel disruptions or safety concerns. Plan events earlier in the day to make the most of natural daylight. For outdoor activities, you’ll need to think about the temperature drop as the evening progresses.

Provide guests with clear information about the dress code, emphasising the need for warmth, especially if the event will be outdoors. Use winter-friendly decor that can withstand outdoor conditions and consider how you’ll weatherproof any outdoor entertainment.


Venue selection

There are many different requirements a venue needs to satisfy, which will be higher in number the more guests you’ll have in attendance. It will have to be accessible to everyone, considering mobility challenges and special needs, and provide clear signage and assistance for easy navigation.

Think about how the venue lends to the mood you want to create, as well as the practical elements. For example, do they have sufficient bathroom areas, catering spaces, internet connectivity and power outlets? If you’ll need extras such as audio-visual equipment, can the venue provide that? Consider the proximity of roads and parking areas, especially in snowy conditions, and how convenient it’ll be for guests to arrive, leave and park their vehicles.

Opt for venues with proper heating systems. For outdoor events, check whether the venue has exterior provisions in place to keep guests warm. Otherwise, you may need to rent or invest in outdoor heaters and weather-appropriate shelter options, such as tents or other covered spaces.

You should also ​​verify insurance coverage requirements for the venue, confirm the availability of security personnel and discuss their emergency response plans, to ensure the safety of all attendees.

Client expectations

If you’ve been hired to plan a winter event for a client, you’ll of course need to take an approach aligned with their wishes and what you’ve been briefed on. Understanding their vision is imperative in creating a bespoke event. Consult with them face-to-face as early as possible to find out their expectations, desired atmosphere, and any specific elements they wish to incorporate. This collaborative approach ensures that you get to know the client’s preferences and increases the chances of everyone being happy with the end result.

From seating arrangements to curated food and beverage options, tailoring every aspect of the event adds a touch of exclusivity. Think about unique winter-themed activities or entertainment that makes sense for the client’s goals and their specific guest list.

Maintain open and transparent communication with the client throughout the planning process. Regular updates on progress build trust, ensuring that the final event meets or exceeds expectations.

Personalised stockings

Add a personal touch to another Christmas tradition by creating bespoke, handmade stockings. Experiment with different fabrics, textures, and embellishments. Personalised stockings with names or monograms to make them extra special.

Offer a range of sizes and designs aimed at different preferences and age groups. You could also collaborate with local retailers or online marketplaces to expand your reach. You can sell stockings in sets with other festive items, such as candles to put around them on the mantlepiece, for a complete holiday package.


The benefits of hosting a party in the winter

You may be considering whether a winter event is going to be worth it for yourself or your business, or you might be putting a case forward to a client thinking about throwing one. Either way, it’s good to know the benefits of putting on an event at this time of year before you decide to go ahead.

Hosting a party in the winter season comes with unique advantages that can elevate the overall experience for both hosts and guests. This time of year does tend to come with a feeling of joy and celebration, making it a great time for socialising. Winter parties can have a cosy, intimate atmosphere, as guests dance around trees, catch up around cocktails, huddle indoors to escape the cold or keep warm outdoors, wrapped in layers and talking around heaters or fire pits. This closeness lends a sense of camaraderie, making the event feel more intimate and memorable.

The winter months also lend well to an added wow factor in your decorations, extra glamorous dress codes and a collective expectation to get into the party mood. At the same time, winter parties provide a break from routine, offering a welcome diversion during a season that could otherwise be characterised by hibernation.

How to plan a winter event

Orchestrating a successful outdoor winter event requires a combination of creative vision, practical planning, and effective communication. Here are some tips for things to include:

Themed decor

Transform your venue with enchanting decor. These thoughtful touches create a visually appealing, cohesive ambience that invites people in and complements the theme of the event.

Embrace the winter theme with elements like snowflakes, icicles, grand centrepieces, gift-wrapped boxes (or actual gifts that become party favours) and twinkling fairy lights. Evergreen accents, holly and pine cones can also work well. The closer your event is to Christmas, the more you can go all out with options such as Christmas trees, wreaths and reindeer statues.

You might opt for a palette of winter whites, deep greens, and rich reds to bring the festive atmosphere. Alternatively, you could go for earthy browns and natural elements if you’d rather avoid festive fuss. It all depends on the occasion, of course. If it’s a birthday party or a music-themed night such as 80s or Motown, you can select decor that’s more appropriate to one of those.

Comfortable seating

Ensure that guests stay warm and comfortable with well-thought-out seating. Creating inviting seating arrangements enhances the overall enjoyment of the event, encouraging guests to relax and savour the festivities.

Opt for plush furnishings like sofas and lounge chairs, adorned with soft throws and cushions in seasonal colours. Outdoor events can benefit from weather-resistant seating options, such as heated benches or strategically placed fire pits surrounded by benches or chairs.

Choose seating that complements the event’s aesthetic; feature a mix of seating styles to accommodate different preferences and times, such as casual groups at cocktail hour to more formal arrangements at dinner. Remember to include ample spacing for ease of movement and socialising.

Food and drink options

The catering is another advantage of winter parties, as the season inspires menus featuring hearty, warm dishes and festive treats. Guests can indulge in comforting food and drinks that complement the chilly weather, creating a sensory experience that adds to the overall enjoyment of the event.

Offer guests a variety of hot and cold beverages, including spiced drinks, hot chocolate and seasonal cocktails. Remember to provide non-alcoholic drinks for drivers or people who are teetotal. You could make the dining experience interactive and fun with dedicated areas, such as fondue or chocolate fountain stations.


Entertainment

A party’s success can all rest on its entertainment options. There are a range of avenues you could go down, from arranging live acoustic performances or instrumental ensembles to hiring a professional DJ. When it comes to the soundtrack, you can curate a playlist featuring winter classics and holiday tunes that everyone will love.

Depending on the budget and age group, outdoor events could feature activities like ice skating, sleigh rides, Santa’s grottos or firework displays. Engage people with interactive elements such as winter-themed photo booths. Think about what your guests would like when making entertainment choices, to cater to their demographic and leave them in high spirits.

Lighting

Optimal lighting is crucial for giving your winter parties a warm and inviting quality. Incorporate soft, ambient lighting like string lights, candles, and lanterns. Using warm tones will counter the cool outdoor backdrop. Winter-themed lighting elements such as snowflake projections can add a touch of whimsy.

Illuminate key focal points like dining tables and bar areas with well-placed spotlights. Striking the right balance between functional and decorative lighting enhances the overall aesthetic.

Be flexible

The unpredictable nature of winter necessitates a flexible approach to accommodate unforeseen circumstances. Have contingency plans in place for unexpected changes and, if you’re planning for a client, communicate these strategies in advance to manage expectations. Let them know any adjustments you make as you go along too. Flexibility in how you execute the details demonstrates adaptability and a commitment to delivering the best possible event.

Get event insurance with Protectivity

The best-laid plans can still be derailed if something goes wrong, which is why it’s important to cover yourself in case the unexpected happens. Get your event off to the best start with the right insurance.

SportsCover’s event insurance has various levels of cover to support every need. Choose public liability insurance with up to £10 million of cover, in case of claims brought against you and your business due to injury or property damage. If you have a team working for you, our employers’ liability will provide cover if any of your staff are injured. You can also opt for equipment cover which includes loss, damage and theft, or event cancellation insurance.

Read more about our event insurance and get an instant quote online.

This blog has been created as general information and should not be taken as advice. Make sure you have the correct level of insurance for your requirements and always review policy documentation.