2021 Holiday Planning Guide!

A casino theme party is a great way to add fun interactive entertainment among peers and co-workers. That’s why so many companies through the years have booked Elite Casino Events; because they want what you want – a great Holiday party! A casino party gets everyone mingling and engaging with each other in a fun and natural way! This engagement builds camaraderie, and that’s always a winning event for any corporate party! We’ve hosted thousands of casino theme parties for Fortune 500’s and local small businesses, and this experience helped me create this step by step guide for planning the perfect holiday party!

Step 1. Booking a Venue for 2021 Holiday Parties!

Because of the pandemic, venues and casino party companies are booking events at a highly accelerated rate for 2021. Time is essential; the sooner you can lock in your venue and date, the better. Most weekends in December will book at premium rates. If you’re on a budget, consider a late November, early January, or weekday in December. Although, I think this year, even those days will soon sell out. 

Most venues will offer incentives for booking in July, ‘Christmas in July’ is always an excellent deal for those planning Holiday parties! Check local restaurants, banquet halls and centers, pubs, fire halls, conservatories, parks, ball fields, and historical buildings and museums for a unique place to host your party! If you’re local to Pittsburgh, I have a listing of my favorite sites for a party in Pittsburgh with a detailed list of two dozen more places in the 412 area! 

Step 2. How to Select the Perfect Casino Theme Party!

Christmas in Vegas is always my favorite go-to theme! It is perfect for everyone, the dress can be casual or cocktail, and event decor is a snap! Add a few oversized dice and a Las Vegas backdrop, or better yet, transport your team via a green screen to Las Vegas! Invites can be a simple postcard from Vegas or a gaming chip with the event details delivered to each employee’s desk! Add a DJ for some hip tunes or sleight of hand magician, casino games, and dealers, and you’re all set! Viva Las Vegas – Ho, ho, ho!

Las Vegas Postcard Invitation
Las Vegas Postcard Invitation

Another choice might be a James Bond Party theme or a 1920’s Great Gatsby event. Both casino themes are popular, requiring more attention to venue choice, event decor, invitations, and party dress codes. Women love a 1920s party theme, and both men & women love the 007 ‘Casino Royale’ theme. The decision for you is will my team participate in dressing up for either of these themes? The answer lies within your company culture and if they’re willing to get involved and embrace the theme of your choice. Hosting a ‘best dressed’ contest for your party is an excellent way to motivate them! Also, hire an event photographer and add a red carpet set for either party theme, so everyone must dress to kill! Read these blogs to shop for a 1920s casino theme party or more inspiration for a 007 party! 

Step 3. Next – Get Your Team Excited!

Gambling is about risk and reward. Business is too, and rewarding those who take calculated risks to further the business profile is always the sign of a strong leader. This element leads the way to build momentum before your event! Here’s how it works. Have gaming vouchers made before the Holiday party; most casino party companies will do this for you. You can make denomination vouchers, or customized casino chips; either works as bonus bucks!

Casino Chip Vouchers

Create various denominations of your ‘funny money’ and give each staff member the same amount to start. Next, reward your top performers or long-time team members with extra ‘bonus bucks.’ Let everyone know they can earn those bonus bucks daily before the party as incentives! The more they make, the more prizes they have an opportunity to win! Drop a few hints about the prizes; you’ll have them counting down the calendar until the Holiday party!

Step 4. How Many Casino Games Will I Need For My Party?

We’ve been hosting casino events in Pittsburgh for nearly ten years! In those ten years, we’ve worked with some of the finest and most elite organizations. They all have the same question regarding the casino games to guest ratio, and most will miss the mark on a guess. Through the years, we’ve found at any given event, only about 70% of people will play casino games at any given time. Most everyone will play, just not all at once. This ratio becomes even smaller if you add other amenities to the event, such as a DJ, dancing, or a photo booth! You can drop it another 10% to 60% with a la carte entertainment added.  

So a casino theme party with 100 guests, with dinner, dancing, photo booth, and casino games, the event will only need 60 gaming spots. Most casino games will host on average eight gaming seats, some host ten while others host seven, so conservatively, we say eight is a good number. You would then divide eight into sixty, and that equals 7.5 casino games. That should be on point, the perfect casino pit plan for your party! Start with seven when you book your casino games and ask your casino party vendor if they will permit you to add a few more games once your RSVP is confirmed. If you are not adding other entertainment elements, then round up to the 70% ratio and plan for eight casino games or 68 gaming spots.

Step 5. How Much Space Do You Need For The Casino Games?

Most of your better casino party vendors offer actual gaming tables and casino quality equipment with their service. However, some lay felts over a 6′ banquet table and skirt it and try to sell this as a ‘gaming table’ or ‘casino game.’ It’s not a gaming table and probably better suited for a Church carnival or something like that. Before booking, ask your vendor to send you a recent video of the gaming tables they use to verify the tables and equipment. Ask them to video it from all angles, top, bottom, and sides. The video will also show you if it’s clean and well maintained. It seems a silly ask, but I assure you the best companies out there will be happy to do this for you. 

Most casino games require about 100 square feet, regardless of a casino game; this estimate includes space for chairs and players. So for a party of 100, you probably need 700 square feet for the casino pit for seven casino games. Allocate another 100 square feet each for DJ service and another 100 for the photo booth. Don’t forget to add 100 square feet for any bars too! Ask the venue for a ‘schematic to scale’ of the banquet room or space. Most casino party rental companies can make a floor plan for you as we did for a Holiday party for Chevron. You can see the pictures of all 21 games and the floor plan or 21 games for the expected 300 guests. This diagram will also help alleviate any event day confusion between vendors and the venue, and everyone now has a floor plan! 

Chevron Floor Plan
Casino Theme Party Set Up
Craps Casino Game
Casino Party Games
Casino Party Games Set Up

Step 6. Book The Pros For Your Casino Theme Party!

Many people ask us, ‘can we bring in our dealers?’ Usually, this hints that the team leader or bosses are getting a crash course in dealing and planning to go live as casino dealers for 2 to 3 hours! This concept is not just a bad idea; it is a horrible one for your casino theme party! Think about it, doing math for 3 hours non stop! Yeah – let that sink in, plus people are asking you questions about the game that you don’t know and cannot answer. All while you are center stage in the spotlight. Trust me; few can do this – very few. 

Training to deal craps is 160 hour class, roulette is 80, poker is 120, and blackjack is 40. That’s standard in the casino industry in the USA. How do you think anyone, regardless of intellect, will be able to deal efficiently for three hours nonstop without proper training? It’s silly! Stop and save yourself future headaches, and book a company that hires only certified casino dealers. Because for them, dealing in casino games is similar to driving a car – they can do it without thinking about it. This decision will be one of the best ones you can make for your guest’s experience.

Step 7. How to Plan The Perfect Timeline For Your Party?

Rule number one, people always come early – plan for this! Ensure your casino party vendors, DJs, photo booth, and venue are ready in plenty of time for those early birds! Don’t drag out the timeline either! People’s attention span these days is micro-short, and a boring party drags out too long! Four hours is perfect, maybe five if the event includes a seated dinner. Here is a sample timeline perfect for a corporate casino event: 

Holiday Casino Theme Party Timeline:

  • 6:00 to 7:00 PM Cocktail hour, light entertainment, maybe a magician?
  • 7:00 to 7:15/7:30 PM CEO or lead managers speak, awards, etc. 
  • 7:30 PM Dinner 
  • 8:15 PM Casino opens simultaneously with the photo booth and dancefloor
  • 10:30 PM Last-call casino games! 
  • 10:45 PM Award prizes to winners & lead managers thank the team! 
  • 11:00 PM Party ends 

We’ve used this timeline for thousands of corporate casino nights, and it’s perfect and permits room for tweaks if necessary! Don’t sweat it if things get off schedule; it always works out during game time! 

Step 8. Decorate For Your Casino Theme Party

The fun of any party planning is the decor. Everyone loves to shop and pull together a vision and then put it in place. If that’s not your cup of tea, ask your casino party vendor if they can help you. Most will have plenty of decor options with oversized dice and playing cards, Vegas street signs, red carpet, and a collection of themed decor for those 1920s or 007 parties. 

Keep in mind your casino gaming tables do, in fact, also create decor! 

So it will lessen the amount for your decor needs. For every 1000 square feet, I recommend two sets of oversized dice with 4/8 playing cards and a Vegas or theme motif backdrop. These 10″ glass martinis filled with glass gems, pearls, dice, playing cards, and a candle make gorgeous centerpieces. I also love these 24-carat gold-plated casino cards; they add glamour and glitz to any casino theme party! 

007 Casino Decor Centerpieces
Gold Casino Themed Party Decor

Step 9. How to Award Prizes At Casino Theme Party?

When gaming begins, the race is on! Players will have about 2 hours to win as many casino chips as possible. At the end of casino play, most casino party companies will cash out players’ winnings and convert them into raffle tickets. The awarded raffle tickets then go into a blind draw for prizes. Each guest will place their raffle tickets into a vase or gift bag used for each allocated prize provided by the company or boss. The boss will then draw raffle tickets, call out winning numbers to declare who won each casino prize. We recommend (1) prize per 10 guests. This is entirely legal at a company event because no one paid to enter, or paid to play the games. If you’re hosting a fundraiser, you should be aware of the laws for casino events in Pennsylvania before you begin planning. Additionally, I think it’s a good idea to give everyone raffle tickets when they arrive at the beginning of the night. This way, regardless of whether a guest plays, they already have a few chances to win some prizes! 

A couple of points, be sure to decide if guests ‘must be present to win’ or if guests cash out and leave early? If so, make sure they add their name or employee number to the tickets they drop in the basket prizes. Also, it’s a good idea to consider what to do if they lose? If they lose all their casino money and are out in 30 minutes, what would you like the dealers and pit bosses to do? We recommend sending them to the company’s team leader to ask for more ‘Bonus Bucks’ and let the boss decide if they were naughty or nice and if they should get more ‘casino play money or not.’ It creates a comic opportunity for the boss and gets them engaged in the fun with the team. You can have a trophy made, ‘Christmas Casino Champion 2021’.’ Then have the Pit boss track who was the overall winner for your party! The biggest winner gets a brand new trophy and bragging rights at the office! You can also combine both blind drawing prizes and biggest winners – for fun, consider doing a ‘biggest loser’ prize too! Let the Pit boss tell you who ‘busts first’ and award them a gift too! We find a box of kleenex, and a bottle of wine is appropriate! wink

Step 10. Say Yes To Extra Casino Party Entertainment!

Adding extra entertainment is always a winning idea for your Holiday party! It’s a fact that only 70% of attendees will gamble at any given time during your party – so be sure to cover the other 30% with some fun entertainment! DJ service is an excellent idea if you know your team is a moving-grooving type of crowd. Be sure to hire a DJ that can plan out your timeline with a nice balance of Holiday, modern/pop, country, rock, and old-school dance music to make the evening’s flow perfect. Some DJ services like ours have an app that you can send to the team members before the party to request songs for the night’s playlist. This application is yet another way to get your team engaged and excited for the event! 

Hire a Specialized Talent To Make Them Smile!

Hiring a professional magician is always a good idea for cocktail hour or before dinner. A talented sleight of hand magician who strolls the bewildering crowd, this can set the tempo and ambiance for the night! We have our talented Elite magician, and after all these years, he still fascinates me! His ‘Rule of Seven’ dice trick is unbelievable! Hiring a Las Vegas showgirl adds that Via Las Vegas vibe to your party! Showgirls make great brand ambassadors handing out tickets, awards, prizes, casino money, company gifts while getting everyone on the red carpet for photo fun too! Be warned, though – most women will want to try on the headdress! Our Elite showgirls are always happy to oblige. 

Step 11. Magic of Memories is Always The Perfect Gift.

Photo booth fun is always a great choice and a fabulous way to give everyone a take-home memory of the event. If you are hosting a ‘Holiday Las Vegas casino theme party’ and want to WOW your guests, try the mirror photo booth with a green screen. Here are a few images from a party we did that was ‘Christmas in July.’ Our in-house designer created background images to use with the green screen to put guests in the Vegas skyline, on the strip, in a cartoon, by the fireplace, at the North Pole, and of course, in the casino! People are amazed by the technology and the instant gratification of being anywhere in the world in seconds! 

Vegas Greenscreen Photo Booth
Holiday Greenscreen Photo Booth
Holiday Greenscreen Photo Booth
Holiday Greenscreen Photo Booth

As an event planner, and casino executive with a lifetime of experience this ‘2021 Holiday Planning Guide’ is an essential tool to help you host the perfect 2021 Holiday party! One last important note is to check the reviews of the company you’re planning to book because reputation is everything in the service and entertainment industry! Below is a list of reviews and clients we’ve hosted throughout the years! If you need more help planning your holiday party, contact us we’re happy to create something unforgettable – so that everybody wins!

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