SOURCE: Hornblower Cruises & Events

Hornblower Cruises & Events

September 15, 2009 12:00 ET

Holiday Party Planning Tips From the Pros: This Year, Paint the Town Red, While Keeping Your Budget in the Black

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwire - September 15, 2009) - As companies cut spending and organizations trend toward cost-saving measures, planning holiday parties can be daunting. Still, celebrating your employees' hard work is a motivating move that inspires them to achieve more. In fact, a 2008 Battalia Winston study of corporate holiday party trends found that 81 percent of businesses surveyed were planning celebrations, even if they were smaller affairs than normal.

How can you throw a spectacular holiday celebration on a shoestring? The answer is simple: Get creative, plan ahead and capitalize on seasonal specials. This year, honor your employees without breaking the bank by following these simple suggestions, shared by the professional event planners at Hornblower Cruises & Events.

1. Book early for the best deals and dates -- and be flexible. Thank your team with a November gathering or kick off the new year with an event in January: It just might be more affordable than getting together in December. By planning your event early, you'll choose from the widest selection of dates and options, as well. And, remember that brunches and lunches are often less expensive than dinners. Nearly half of businesses in that 2008 study planned lunchtime holiday parties instead of evening events.

2. Seek support from on-site event planners. Venues often provide professional planning assistance at no additional charge. Look to these experts for insider advice on budget-friendly options -- and, capitalize on their industry connections by asking for referrals, donated door prizes and other money saving tips.

3. Take advantage of seasonal promotions and packages. Many venues offer convenient packages that get you the most for your money. Hornblower's Paint the Town Red specials will help companies celebrate in style, while keeping your budget in the black, with customizable, value-packed deals ranging from modest champagne cruises to all-inclusive sit-down dinners with special amenities. Hornblower ports also offer public holiday cruises that small groups can book at a lower rate than booking their own yacht.

4. Look for distinctive locations and activities. Consider outings that engage employees, and choose creative locations. Volunteer to build trails at a local park and follow it up with a company-sponsored picnic. Visit a museum. Book a cruise, organize an afternoon of wine tasting or take a group cooking class in your own backyard. In this economy, businesses are more willing to negotiate, meaning you may be able to have events at locations previously out of your budget. In the corporate holiday party survey, 77 percent of employers were planning off-site holiday parties and 74 percent planned to participate in charitable activities, including volunteering, during the season.

5. Remember, low-key doesn't mean low quality. One of the easiest ways to cut costs is to keep celebrations simple. A strolling reception held in a unique venue can be as exciting as an extravagant, expensive dinner. Employee rewards, like holiday gifts after all, come in many shapes and sizes.

Hornblower Cruises & Events has been the leading charter yacht and public dining cruise company in California for more than 29 years. The company operates 32 vessels, including the 3 largest dining yachts on the West Coast, in San Francisco, Berkeley, Long Beach, Newport Beach, Marina del Rey and San Diego. Alcatraz Cruises, a business unit of Hornblower Cruises & Events, is the official National Park Service concessioner of the water transportation services to Alcatraz Island.

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