A Gatsby-inspired Christmas party in the heart of London
On the strength of previous successful events delivered by MGN events for this telecommunications business, we were asked once again to organise the company’s Christmas party. Our client wanted to reward employees with a really special experience, get dressed up, enjoy fine food and have fun.
We agreed that the event should be all about glitz and glamour. Our search of London venues led us to Banking Hall. Previously the headquarters of Lloyd’s Bank, this stunning Grade II listed building is a wonderful example of Art Deco architecture. With its magnificent interiors, high ceilings, monumental columns and countless original features, the venue had all the wow factor we could wish for and offered plenty of space for 250 guests. It was the perfect setting for an elegant Gatsby-themed event.
Hire of the venue included a decoration and production package, which we utilised and then added our own printed menus for the table, bar menus and table plan. We also produced a digital version of the table plan, which made it easy to update with any last-minute changes. Whilst we had less than usual to do in terms of design, we were faced with a logistical challenge. Originally intended to be an evening event, it became apparent that many of those invited would struggle with timings and there would be pressure to catch trains home – this would obviously not be conducive to an enjoyable and relaxed experience. The venue kindly agreed to our request to run the event from 2pm to 9pm, a change that would give everyone sufficient time to get home without worrying about missing the last trains.
With exclusive use of the venue, the smaller Counting Room was used for the welcome reception. Guests were greeted with a glass of Champagne and delicious canapés, including pigs in blankets and cranberry sauce, mini beef oxtail wellington and redcurrant jam, fig, goats cheese and balsamic tartlet. The digital table plan was displayed on a screen so that guests could check where they would be sitting for dinner. And whilst everyone chatted there was also an opportunity to take photos in the 1920s themed photobooth we’d installed.
Once dinner was announced guests entered the Main Hall via the grand staircase. A five-piece jazz band added to the sense of nostalgia and created a perfect ambience – guests literally stepped back in time to the 1920s. The hall was beautifully lit, the tables exquisitely prepared for a formal dinner and the Christmas tree, garlands and bauble table decorations added a lovely festive feel.
The four-course dinner, a sophisticated version of Christmas dinner, was designed to look stunning and taste incredible. Guests had a choice of two starters – salt-baked kohlrabi with herb yoghurt, crème fraiche and fig drizzle or butternut squash velouté served with celery-salted doughnuts. Succulent bronze turkey followed, served with Pommes Anna, honey-roasted parsnips and Brussels sprouts with apricot stuffing. A vegan wellington with kale, butternut squash, pearl barley with Pommes Anna, wild mushrooms and beetroot velouté was served to non-meat eaters. Dessert options included lemon tart with raspberry gel and limoncello macaroon and warm sticky toffee pudding served with vegan custard. There was also a cheese station and guests could help themselves to stilton, Mull of Kintyre cheddar cheese, ash-coated goats cheese and taleggio, with accompaniments such as celery, apple, green tomato chutney, quince jelly, crackers and walnut and sultana bread.
As well as serving beers, wines and spirits at the brass-topped bar, we arranged for a selection of cocktails to be served, including Rhubarb, Honeycomb & Cranberry Royale, Apple Strudel Collins, Mint & Blackberry Smash and Mulled Wine Martinez.
During dinner guests were delighted with a special surprise performance of 1920s-style dancers. Dressed in period costume, the pair entered the hall and danced their way down the staircase – it looked spectacular and ensured everyone had a good view of their performance. Once dinner was over, the dancers performed again, as did the jazz band. Their energy created a wonderfully upbeat mood, it took little encouragement for guests to join in and the party was soon in full swing. There were plenty of memories for guests to take home with them, and our roving photographer captured plenty of special moments of the entire event.