You have a few options in the Austin area to choose from when it comes to an event space for your next holiday party venue. The problem is that many of them don’t work for every gathering.
If you’re trying to host a corporate gathering, a small dance hall designed for concerts isn’t going to do. Similarly, if you’re hosting a family reunion with only about 100 guests, you’re not going to need a full event space complete with catering service and white table cloths.
Typically, finding the best holiday party venue boils down to a lengthy process of elimination. Some spaces offer full service, while others only give you a room and a key.
Either way, the idea is to locate a venue that strikes a balance between functionality and amenities like outdoor patios because many event spaces look the part, but once you get inside, it’s an entirely different story.
So, to give you a head’s up before you start the hunt, here’s what to look for in a great holiday venue.
What to Look for in a Great Holiday Party Venue
People are ready to gather and celebrate the holidays post-COVID, more so than ever before. So it becomes all the more important to find an inspiring, fun, and beautiful holiday party venue while still following safety protocols.
Here’s a snapshot of some of the factors you should consider if you are planning to host an event of up to 300 people:
- Space flexibility and customization
- Indoor and outdoor areas
- Unique design, furniture, art, and ambiance
- Great lighting indoors and outdoors
- Main area centrally located in the building
Space flexibility and customization
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is choosing an event venue that doesn’t have a lot of flexibility space-wise. When you tour the venue for the first time, the room may look big enough to host a couple of hundred guests, but once they start filling the room, it’s already too late to find a bigger space.
That’s why some of the best venues offer flexible spaces that you can use in many ways. For instance, not every venue allows you to use the dining space as a conference space or a dancefloor if you’re hosting a wedding.
Indoor and outdoor areas
Along those lines, the best event venues have flexible indoor and outdoor areas, too, not one or the other. An outdoor area for mingling is all the more critical in the post-COVID era, where so many of us are barely getting used to socializing in large groups again.
Indoor venues may seem ideal at a glance, yet they don’t necessarily work for every situation. If you’re hosting a luncheon fundraiser for a nonprofit, you probably won’t need access to the venue’s kitchen or a storage area.
But if you’re hosting an event like a massive wedding with guests flying in from across the country, you’ll need every square inch of space for decorations, caterers, and just about anything else you can think of.
Unique design, furniture, art, and ambiance
Another factor to consider is whether or not the venue has a unique design and a pleasant ambiance you can’t get at any other event space.
It could be anything from contemporary art deco furniture, sculptures, paintings, or any other interior design accents that make the event feel sophisticated, unique, and professionally managed too.
Indeed, the best venues get down to the smallest details, especially when hosting a large corporate event for a nationally syndicated conference. You may not need a full bar during such an event, but it’s nice to know that if you do, you won’t be serving cheap liquor and beer since the venue only carries premium selections.
If you are going to serve drinks, check on glassware. Does the venue use cheap plastic? Or can you count on quality glassware that looks and feels classy and elegant like it should?
Honestly, most venues in the area don’t offer these choices: all you get is an empty, bare room with no flare and a deadline to clean up the place.
Great lighting indoors and outdoors
Of all things that make a great event venue, the lighting indoors and outdoors is probably the most underrated factor. Dim, low lighting may work well for romantic weddings, yet it isn’t ideal for big corporate events, which require professional ambiance.
The best part about a venue with plenty of outdoor space is the option to customize lighting with items like tiki torches, string lights, Japanese lanterns, or anything else creative.
Still, the venue itself needs to have great lighting or various ways to adjust the lighting to your tastes.
Main area centrally located in the building
Lastly, the most under-rated aspect of a lovely holiday party venue is a centrally-located main hall. It may sound like a standard feature, but not every event space is centrally located within the building itself.
A venue designed explicitly for weddings is a prime example because the reception area may be on one end of the property while the chapel is on the other side. Guests end up herding themselves back and forth, which isn’t the most organized way to go about it.
Location may seem like a minute detail, but when you have hundreds of guests arriving simultaneously, it’s not so easy to shepherd them from place to place without easy access to the central area.
Related: Where to look for a party venue.
3 Tips for Hosting a Joyous Holiday Party
Up to this point, we’ve gone over what to look for in a holiday party venue, so now we’ll move on to a few tips you can use this season to brighten up your event’s mood.
1.) Make sure your guests have enough room to sit and dine comfortably
When you visit a venue, the manager will recommend seating arrangements, and sometimes, you need a full house. The tables and chairs may look like they’re perfectly spaced, but the trick is to actually sit in them and move around as if you were dining and chatting.
It’s common to arrange tables too close together in a venue, so much so that you can’t stand up without backing into the person sitting behind you at a different table. If it happens a few times, it’s not a problem, but if a lack of chair and table space becomes a topic of conversation, you’re already in trouble.
2.) Make sure your guests have enough to eat and drink
One of the most embarrassing things that can happen when hosting a large event is running out of food and refreshments. And this happens all the time. So it’s always better to over-book catering than under-book it.
Even if the cuisine you serve is divine, some guests won’t eat as much as you think – or head straight for the bar, looking for a different sort of entertainment.
Regardless, don’t get caught without enough food and drinks for your guests, and a quality event venue will recommend the right amount.
3.) Don’t forget about safety and security
You want to impress your guests, but you also want them to be safe at the same time. So, another facet that gets overlooked is a subtle security presence. It could be an off-duty police officer or private security personnel. Regardless, the idea is to make your guest feel safe.
Ideally, the security you hire won’t have to do anything at all except greet a guest or two, yet their visible presence is enough to put people at ease. In all likelihood, you won’t have any incidents that demand security, but it’s nice to know you’re covered if it does happen.