A Guide to Alcohol for Holiday Events

alcohol guide holiday

Party season has begun! While normal people are carving pumpkins and finalizing their Halloween costumes, event planners are getting ready for holiday parties. Our clients are looking to us to plan beautiful and memorable events and, if you’re like me, you have a few of your own to manage as well.

Once you have all the details organized, the invitations sent, the decor plan in place and the entertainment under control, it’s time to think libations! This is a great opportunity to make an event stand out to guests, and for nonprofits, can be a money maker as well.

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As you’re designing your event, here are some things to think about:

  • If you’re providing all the beverages (i.e., no cash bar option), you’ll need to consider how many drinks you to plan to provide each guest. Not enough can make them leave early, but too many can be problematic, too. What’s the right number for your audience and event?
  • Will the weather impact your drink choices? If you anticipate snow or cold, maybe a hot toddy of sorts would be good! If you’re in a warmer climate, how can you celebrate the season in a way that won’t overheat guests?
  • A fun idea is to serve your custom-themed drink in a unique or funky glass imprinted with your client’s (or your own) logo. Make the glass something your guests can take home to memorialize the event. If you’re creating a holiday event for a charity, arrange with the vendor to charge a little extra for the cocktail with the additional money going to the charity.
  • Themed cocktails can actually save you money if your budget is tight. Work with your bartending vendor to come up with some fun and creative ideas.
  • Of course, any time you’re offering alcohol, you should make sure you have the necessary insurance and licenses required for alcohol service. In my metro area, many of the smaller communities have different rules—so be sure you understand yours.
  • If you’re producing a larger party, consider whether you need to hire (discrete) security.
  • Always provide non-alcoholic options. Water, coffee and tea are inexpensive and easy-to-manage, self-serve choices.
  • One of our favorite things to do is provide a coffee bar at the end of the event. It can help caffeinate guests and keep them warm and fuzzy for the trip home.
  • Consider offering car service for those not able to drive safely. At the very minimum, provide the contact information of cab companies (in case guests don’t have a Lyft or Uber account).

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We’ve developed a drink guide to help you know exactly how much and what type of alcohol you will need to prepare for. Feel free to download A Guide to Serving Alcohol at Your Event.

Tracy Fuller became an entrepreneur 32 years ago when she started her first company, Happy Occasions. Nearly three decades later, she leads the team at InnovativEvents, providing event decor, backstage management and overall coordination and management of all production aspects. She has worked with Elton John, Bon Jovi and Keith Urban, and with companies such as Google, Oracle and Allstate Insurance. Her passion is helping other entrepreneurs create their event business without going through all the hard knocks she did. You can find tips and tricks to advance your event business at Event Heroes.


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