The classic movie, A Christmas Carol, was the inspiration for the theme chosen by our client for the annual Holiday Staff Party because he loved the movie and thought that it was a classic traditional Christmas story that exhibited compassion and forgiveness, as Scrooge discovers the true meaning of Christmas. In the movie, Ebenezer Scrooge, is an old miser who is visited by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. When three ghosts take penny-pinching Scrooge on an eye-opening journey, he discovers the true meaning of Christmas – but he must act on it before it’s too late. Much of the movie illustrates the shortcomings of Scrooge, but in the end he is transformed into a kinder, gentler man. This transformation towards kindness was inspirational to deliver the key message that our client wanted to highlight. Our challenge was to place emphasis on the kinder Scrooge and not focus on the miserly part of the story.
Our inspiration was from the film setting and decided to design / build our own European Village to mirror the village in the movie. Our client wanted the event to focus on the traditional aspects of Christmas and we wove them into our seating plan, décor design, menu planning, activities and entertainment. Each decision was carefully scrutinized to ensure that it was in line with the festive generosity of the spirit of Christmas.
One of our first steps in the event planning process is to understand the goals and objectives behind the client’s decision to host the event. Since we already knew what the event goals and objectives were, we knew that the typical corporate Holiday party wasn’t going to achieve his objectives. We needed to create, from scratch, a setting that would engulf guests immediately into the joyful feeling of Christmas and all that is good.
We established our event design incorporating the important elements of the event goals, and then set about delivering it in a way that was fun, imaginative and inviting, so that guests would be drawn into exploring all sections of the village. Scrooge and his flock of actors, perfectly added just the right inspirational touches of the movie entwined with Christmas traditions and woven together with core values from our client. It was perfect. We had created a warm and welcoming atmosphere for the guests so that they really did feel like they were in a friend’s living room at Christmas.
The overall strategy to designing and producing this successful, customized event was to create a setting that related to the movie with traditional Christmas aspects which both supported the theme and encouraged guests to roam freely throughout the village exploring the various food stations, activities and entertainment in each of the areas.
When designing the space layout, we decided that erecting a village would work, as long as there were enough corridors and passage ways where guests could easily flow throughout the space. We were concerned that if not well planned, our biggest challenge would be traffic flow and bottle necks. The ghosts in the movie were our inspiration for layout; the Past, Present and Future and divided the venue accordingly. In each area, we included themed food, activities and entertainment, nestled between massive hand-painted cloth shop front backdrops (50’ wide x 22’ tall).
To build a realistic village, each building would need to be 8’ wide x 8’ deep x 16’ tall. The City Hall and Jail would be larger at 16’ wide x 8’ deep x 24’ tall. Not only did these shops have to be professionally wired inside so that the lights could shine through the windows, but an electrician needed to wire the exterior wall scones and furnaces, so that outdoor lights would shine in the courtyard, as the smoke billowed out of the chimneys.
Set up was a logistical nightmare, as EVERY wall of EVERY 3D shop, as well as EVERY roof top, had to be assembled on site. It was like building 10 cottages in one day! Once the shops were secure and sturdy, custom designed shop signs and awnings were erected and lastly the snow treatment added, with fresh plants and flowers in flower boxes outside various shops. It was a marathon!
The most essential feature of any village is its town center / courtyard. Our inspiration was building a courtyard centre, where we installed a metal three tiered working fountain, surrounded by five-globe lampposts and wrought iron park benches. It was a place where guests could gather, greet one another and get acquainted with the layout. We hired costumed Carollers to serenade guests upon arrival, which added to the atmosphere.
Registration was in the courtyard and here guests were given a customized multi-page colored Christmas card which contained information such as the agenda, floorplan and activity explanations.This included the Spirit of Christmas Challenge where guests were encouraged to visit activities in each area, receive Christmas stickers, and then enter their completed Christmas card for a draw. It was a clever way to encourage guests to circulate and partake in all of the unique fun.
We had positioned actors, posing as ghosts, in their respective area to invite guests to “come in and explore”.
The PRESENT Area Inspiration
In the PRESENT area, was a digital Caricaturist dressed in period costume, who offered caricatures drawn on a themed border.
Next to the Caricaturist was the popular Screen Test. We had hired a Director, Assistant Director and Prop Coordinator as well as 2 Videographers on hand to film the screen tests. Guests donned costumes, and acted out short scenes from the movie. All of the rehearsals, as well as the final take, was captured on film and then transferred to a souvenir flash drive, which was given to guests when they left the station. It was one of the highlights of the event, as guests could share their Screen Test afterwards at home with their family and reminisce about the event.
The PAST Area Inspiration
In the PAST we had included a Casino as we have in past years. We had positioned our prize area in front of another backdrop of a library scene, complete with fireplace.
In this area (on the back side of the Jail and City Hall) was a giant 32’ long bar adorned with rustic lanterns which showcased customized logo signs of all 13 divisions of the company. As guests were lining up for a beverage, they were proud to see their divisional logo included in the family of logos for all to see.
The FUTURE Area Inspiration
In the FUTURE, we had a Fortune Teller, as well as two VR stations. Guests selected one of eight futuristic Christmas themed games, donned head ware and were immersed in the 360 experience. It was both fun to watch as well as participate.
The entertainment value at this event was exceptionally high, as guests could get involved, or just step back and watch others having fun. To receive a Christmas sticker for the Spirit of Christmas Challenge, you didn’t have to participate, just drop by the activity.
Any successful concept plays contrasting elements against each other to maximize creativity and impact. And what impact did this event have on the guests? Guests were most impacted by the realistic feel of the village setting, which was quaint and inviting, contrasted by the playful and amusing actors.
Our client tracked us down mid-event to share his absolute satisfaction with the event. He loved the village setting and the freedom it offered guests to wander and explore, along with the actors. He appreciated the way guests felt valued and were treated as family members, and most of all, the event resonated with the core values of the company. He remarked, “It was exactly what I envisioned. This time, you knocked it out of the ball park!”