Transforming Your Event Venue for the Holidays: Creating a Fabulous Winter Wonderland

With the drop in temperatures and falling leaves, the holiday season has arrived once again, and that means time for celebration. As we gather with our family, friends, and colleagues to create dazzling memories and bustling festivities, one of the most essential elements for a memorable holiday event is the setting. This, for an event planner, can make or break an event, and yet, doesn’t have to be a daunting task. In this guide, we will detail the many ways to transform your event venue into an enchanting winter wonderland, perfectly suited to your vision.

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Embrace Festive Lighting

The simplest way to create a festive feeling is to set the mood with your lighting. Try dimming the overhead lights and embracing other light fixtures such as lamps and spotlights to highlight the key features of your event and help guide guests throughout the venue. String twinkling fairy lights along the walls, ceilings, railings, and even along the window to create an enchanting atmosphere.

You might opt for warmer-toned lighting to contrast the bitter cold of the winter night or use multi-colored lights for a whimsical touch. And when fire-safety regulations ban the use of real candles, faux tea lights make an excellent substitute, mimicking the flickering warmth of flames without the danger of actual fire.

Many venues, including White Space Chelsea, are equipped with track lighting that is customizable to fit the needs of your event with just a few tweaks, transforming the space in moments.

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Utilize Décor & Furnishings to Create a Cohesive Atmosphere

Small details such as the décor you choose can make a huge difference in elevating your event. Whether it’s the table linens for your holiday dinner party, or the racks and shelves for your pop-up marketplace, coordinating these touches can create either a rustic familiarity or a sense of sleek luxury.

Colors and textures can play a big part in the atmosphere of an event. Satins, silks, and velvets complement upscale galas, whereas soft wools, cottons, and linens offer a more casual vibe. The different patterns and textures can also evoke certain feelings, such as traditional holiday fair-isle knits, or sweeping golden filigree.

Coordinate your décor accordingly with furnishings for your desired aesthetic; if your chairs and tables have sleek lines, think likewise about how you style those fixtures. Match your plush velvet lounges with rich color tones, and your shimmering fairy lights with metallic décor that will reflect warmth around the venue.

Determine your color palette early on–if you want warm reds and golds, frosty silvers and blues, forest greens, and browns, or whatever combination suits your fancy–and let that inform how you décorate. And don’t forget to stay true to your brand in the process!

Think about your event–what is the feeling that you want guests to walk away with? And how can you make that happen while staying true to your personal or brand identity?

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Create Festive Focal Points

Designate specific areas of the venue as focal points to draw attention and create memorable moments. Perhaps you welcome guests into the venue with a grand entrance, adorned with shimmering ornaments, twinkling lights, or lush winter foliage. Maybe the exterior window is lined with festive patterns or motifs, allowing street viewers a glimpse of the excitement within.

Using the floor plan of your venue, take a look at how you can divide the space into different areas–maybe use the main floor as a dining or mingling area, while nooks further inside serve as the bar or vendor areas and separated rooms such as White Space Chelsea’s skylight room can provide a secluded space perfect for more intimate arrangements like a photo booth or private lounge.

For pop-up stores, consider a wrapping station so that customers can take their purchases home in prime gifting condition for the holidays. Use the lights to feature any product displays or likewise crucial setups for your event, so that guests know exactly what you’re celebrating.

Do you have areas where you could set up a photo-op backdrop so that your guests can capture the moment on camera? If there’s live music, do you want it to stand out, or blend into the background?

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Engage All the Senses

Speaking of music, sight isn’t the only sense that matters in creating a memorable event. Enhance the overall sensory experience of your event by appealing to more than just your visuals. Curate a playlist of music to create your desired atmosphere–whether that means a selection of upbeat iconic holiday hits to liven the space or more subdued instrumentals that exude sophistication.

Consider utilizing common holiday fragrances like cinnamon, pine, or gingerbread to evoke the indulgent and cozy atmosphere of the holidays, or likewise plan your catering menu accordingly–perhaps with hot chocolate and warm baked goods, or festive cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.

Use Technology to Your Advantage

In this digital age, there are a number of technological developments that can help you turn any venue into the holiday haven of your dreams. From interactive lighting that synchronizes with your party playlist, to interactive smartphone apps that provide guests with information and activities related to your event, the possibilities are endless.

Consider setting up custom Instagram AR filters and gif stickers for your event that guests can use on social media–not only is this engaging for visitors to play with, it’s also a great way to advertise your event! Give visitors a unique event hashtag and encourage them to post by engaging with them, with setups like a live social media feed on a screen or projector, or by livestreaming the event to those who couldn’t make it.

Use digital tools like monitor screens and projection to promote your brand, or to showcase other content related to the event like your logo, slideshows, photos, videos, or other marketing material that you might already have on hand–or better yet, tailor it specifically to the event, curating the selection and imbuing your graphics with holiday spirit.

Here at White Space Chelsea, we are equipped with a state-of-the-art projection mapping system, a sophisticated technology that transforms walls, ceilings, and other surfaces into animated canvases. With this, you can elevate simple blank surfaces into simulated holiday getaways by projecting tropical beaches, or embrace the winter aesthetic by surrounding guests with projections of snowfall.

With so many options at your fingertips, determine which technologies will best suit your needs and elevate your event to ensure a seamless guest experience.

projection mapping

Additional Tips for Planning Your Holiday Event

With the aforementioned suggestions in mind, here are a few other tips that can help you optimize your holiday event:

Consider the venue.
Make sure that your décor plans complement the venue’s existing design features. Take into account details such as the square footage, ceiling height, and other elements that are out of your control. Embrace the qualities that make your chosen venue unique–ours might be the glass frontage, the elevated mezzanine level, or our skylight room–and think about how best to take advantage of those architectural highlights.

Do the holidays your way.
Stick to elements that reflect the event’s theme, company branding, or the host’s personal style. Perhaps your branding would benefit from natural elements like greenery, pinecones, and wreaths for a rustic charm, or maybe a more modern and minimalist approach would be a better fit. Even within traditional holiday symbolism, there’s room for customization–genuine pine trees versus cut-paper standees, garlands of foliage and holly versus metallic tinsel or string lights, et cetera–so be sure to match according to your personal aesthetics.

Go beyond décor.
It’s the small touches that leave guests feeling like you’ve really gone the extra mile. Customize place cards at dining tables, personalized notes to your guests, or even event-specific themed cocktails named after something unique to your event. Tailor any freebies or party favors to the event, both by using your personal or corporate branding, and leaning into the holiday spirit with the item itself–a mug or tumbler for hot drinks, a mini candle to light on a cozy evening, festive-scented soap or lotion, or other holiday-themed items that guests are likely to use, and thus be reminded of your incredible event.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Does this all sound overwhelming? Event decorating isn’t for everyone, which is why there are professional Event Décorators who can provide expert advice, creative ideas, and hands-on assistance to transform your venue into a stunning holiday spectacle. Likewise, other vendors like furnishers, caterers, and more, are just a phone call away, so don’t be afraid to connect with professionals in the industry to help you make your ideal event a reality.