Winter Events 101: How to Make Meetings Shine During the Off-Season

When you’re planning a big event like a conference, or a staff retreat, you’re likely to have spring or summer in mind as the best season for a get-together.

After all, those months have sunshine, seasonally warm temperatures, and generally nice weather. Plus everyone’s in a good mood when it’s beautiful outside.

But what happens if your event has to be held during the winter months? Or perhaps you’ve decided to purposely hold your event during the wintertime, either for a change of pace or to line up with seasonal strategic planning.

If your staff isn’t used to the idea, it’s up to you to show them that you can have a fantastic time getting together outside of the traditional spring and summer months, particularly if you’re travelling to a region that has warmer weather in the “wintertime.” Swimsuits really can beat snowsuits.

If you’re holding a winter meeting or retreat, there are plenty of tips and tricks available to help you pull off the best winter event ever. Let’s take a look at why you should consider an event during the winter months, and see how you can put together an inspired soiree for the season.

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Why Choose a Winter Event?

Summer may be the usual season for making happy vacation memories, but take a moment to consider the winter season (typically November through February).

Seasonal holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and Valentine’s Day all fall within the traditional winter months, and even though marketing efforts would have you believe that these holidays are full of snowflakes and icicles, you can have just as much fun, perhaps even better, if you head somewhere warmer and avoid the bad weather.

If you’re located in a region that typically gets very cold weather, you may choose to plan a meeting out of state, somewhere that will have warmer days and sunny skies.

Choosing to hold your event in an area that has warmer winter weather can provide something new and different for people who live in colder climates, and it can give attendees a break from the winter doldrums.

Having an event in the wintertime is definitely a unique experience that can be a fantastic getaway for everyone involved.

Plus, there are a couple of bonuses that come with choosing to hold your event during the winter months. For one, this time period is considered off-season for many resorts and hotels, and so your guests may be able to get a discount on accommodations.

Secondly, given that many venues will already be professionally decorated for the holidays, you may be able to take advantage of the seasonal décor and save on your own decorations.

And lastly, by escaping any inclement weather that comes with the usual blast of winter, you’ll have fewer cancellations and delays, which means more valuable meeting time with colleagues.

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Tips for Success

Although it shouldn’t be too hard to sell attendees on the idea of a wintertime event in a not-so-cold location (as mentioned earlier, just think about all the poor weather you’ll be missing), there’s still plenty to be done to ensure that your gathering is a success.

Since the holiday season is a busy one no matter where in the world you’re located, be sure to call ahead to vendors for decor and catering to see their availability.

It’s also worthwhile to contact the venue you’ve booked to check if anything comes included with the reservation, and to see if you can take advantage of any decorations that the location might already have up.

You might have some guests who may long for the good old days of snow falling during Christmastime, or crisp cold air to ring in the New Year. You can easily placate them by setting the mood to demonstrate that you don’t need to have frost patterns on the windows to have it feel festive.

CTNow has some great ideas to set a seasonal mood, including using candles to bring out the romance of the season (plus fireplaces are a wonderful option. Just keep the fires low if it’s already warm outside) and, as mentioned, to utilize any of the pre-existing holiday décor that the venue may have already installed.

The article also recommends playing up the coziness that cold weather can inspire, including serving hot drinks and warm comfort foods as part of the meal offerings.

And although it mentions making sure your guests have enough seasonally appropriate clothing for outdoor photo shoots, you can create your own winter wonderland if there isn’t one conveniently located.

Create a backdrop that looks like the snowy outdoors and surround an arbor with holiday lights to make a photo booth setting, and include props for silly photos.

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For those planning wintertime business events like meetings or conferences, it’s wise to give potential attendees plenty of advance notice so they can make their travel bookings, if necessary.

Also, be sure to emphasize the importance of dressing appropriately, you wouldn’t want your colleagues to spend time packing winter gear when lighter clothing will do.

They’ll be glad for the extra travel time, and there won’t be as much of a rush to leave the conference or meeting early in order to get home.

Plan Your Winter Wonderland Event

Although it may not be a tradition to have a work event in the winter months, it’s time to try something unexpected for your guests.

With benefits ranging from reduced rates, to money saved on decorations, to venues that are quieter and far less crowded, wintertime might just be the ticket to holding an event that your guests and staff will remember for years to come.


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