As winter approaches, so does the holiday party season! Novel and exciting trends in the party planning industry mean plenty of fun is in store for this year’s celebrations. No one knows what’s hot better than Kevin Fraser, owner of Party Nuptual, an online platform for finding freelance services and vendors for memorable celebrations, so I sat down with him to learn what to expect this winter season.
Increased focus on sustainability
The first holiday party trend Fraser identifies is a growing emphasis on eco-friendly practices. “I’m seeing more and more ideas for decorations made from recycled materials,” he says.
Fraser also has noticed an upswing in practices aimed at minimizing waste. In particular, single-use plastic utensils and plates are out.
“Our planet is choking on plastic, and more and more people are becoming aware of that,” Fraser notes. “Nobody wants to contribute to the mountains of plastic waste, so party hosts and planners are increasingly turning to other solutions.” For instance, some hosts opt for finger food, which requires only a napkin. Others use actual flatware and dishes, or biodegradable options like bamboo.
According to Fraser, using locally sourced ingredients is another way these events are going green. “When food and beverages are sourced locally, the fuel consumed from transporting them is less, which makes their carbon footprint smaller,” he explains. “This approach has the added benefit of keeping your money circulating in the local economy, supporting farmers and other business owners.”
According to Fraser, another trend is using augmented or virtual reality technology to supplement real-world parties. “You could use these innovations to transport guests to a winter wonderland, a Christmas market in Europe, or the kingdom of Narnia,” he explains. “If the cold is starting to weigh on people, you could also send them to a summer beach. Those are just a few examples!” While a headset would provide the most immersive experience, these approaches can also be implemented with smartphones, tablets, or other electronic devices.
Want to incorporate augmented reality without designing and developing an entire experience? Consider an augmented-reality photo booth. These allow your guests to take pictures with virtual backgrounds or characters. “This takes the traditional photo booth to the next level,” Fraser says. “Plus, your guests get a fun photo to take home.”
In addition, interactive apps can personalize party games and give your guests something fun to do. Examples of popular multiplayer games include trivia quizzes, card games, and charades.
“This not only gets guests engaged, but also encourages them to mingle,” Fraser says. “People remember the experience for a long time afterward, and if they win a prize, it serves as a continual reminder of the person or brand that hosted the party.”
Another advantage is that, since these games can be played on people’s phones, no space is needed to set up a physical board or other infrastructure. Just make sure you choose an app that’s quick and easy to download on both Apple and Android devices.
For a novel party, pick a fun theme
You can cause a big splash and create an experience guests will never forget just by choosing a novel theme for a holiday party. Toward that end, Fraser proposes costume parties during the winter holidays.
“Why leave the costumes behind at Halloween?” Fraser asks. “A fun way to spice things up is to ask everyone to come as their favorite character from a holiday movie. Another great thing about costumes is they’re a great conversation starter.”
Think pajama parties are just for kids? Think again. For Fraser, they can also be a way to promote hygge, the Danish word for enjoying togetherness while huddled inside during the winter.
“The holidays are all about coziness, so leaning into that can be a great way to kick off a winter party,” Fraser says. “Think fuzzy blankets and pillows — maybe even some fire pits. A hot toddy or hot chocolate bar would also be a big hit.”
According to Fraser, certain winter activities are reliable winners at holiday parties. “Cookie decorating is beloved and delicious,” he says. “It’s hands-on and allows people to be artistic with the icings and decorations. This activity can also evoke nostalgia, since a lot of people will start to remember their childhoods.”
Making gingerbread houses could work the same way as long as the ingredients are edible. Take care if using a kit, since many of these are not appropriate for consumption.
Fraser is also a fan of ugly sweater contests. “These add humor and lighthearted competition to the gathering,” he says. “An ugly sweater allows people to express their individuality and gives people a way to dress in an appropriate yet relaxed manner. It relieves people of the necessity of getting all dressed up in formal clothing.”
Finally, Fraser suggests incorporating a white elephant gift exchange. “With these, gift-giving becomes entertainment,” he points out. “These exchanges are often filled with playful ‘bickering’ and laughter. Everyone gets to go home with something, but no one needs to stress out about coming up with the perfect gift to give someone.”
You don’t have to do it all by yourself
Whether your party is unique or traditional, the most important thing is that it creates a sense of community, celebration, and joy. You can best do that by incorporating modern trends and technology, understanding your guests’ desires, and having fun with your planning process.
While the work involved may seem daunting, keep in mind you don’t have to do everything yourself. Networks such as Party Nuptual allow hosts to browse available freelancers for anything you might need: a party planner, photographer, DJ, entertainer, chef, venue, and more. As a result, you can ensure a great party on a budget that works for you.
If you find yourself getting overwhelmed, just reach out for help, and the experts can take the burden off your shoulders. That way, you can enjoy the party, too!