This film documents Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye’s attempts to throw together a last-minute surprise event to fundraise for an old army pal. The takeaway: Communication between stakeholders is key. When Emma Allen the housekeeper misunderstands a phone call, it nearly derails the whole plan.
Keep your own communications plan up-to-date with these tips: Risk360 Communications Policy
Die Hard (1988)
NYPD officer John McLane (Bruce Willis) attends a company holiday party for Nakatomi Corp. on Christmas Eve in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, Nakatomi Corp. failed to put in place sufficient security and McLane becomes embroiled in a terrorist-attack/bond heist. McLane eventually resolves the situation but in the process he commits extensive damage to the venue. The takeaway: Hopefully Nakatomi Corp. had enough insurance to cover the mayhem, but the character of John McLane deserves his own custom code of conduct.
Check out these event security stories and, while there is no mention of banning C-4 explosives in elevator shafts, here are some great ideas for your code of conduct.
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)
For the second year in a row Kevin McCallister’s family manages to lose him before a vacation, this time at an airport where he inadvertently gets on a plane to New York instead of Miami. He checks into the Plaza Hotel, has adventures in Central Park, and eventually ends up at the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. The takeaway: While there are many parenting lessons to be found in the Home Alone films, planners booking an event in the Plaza’s 5,000-square-foot fourth-floor conference center or 4,800-square-foot ballroom might take inspiration from a toy shop Kevin visits which is donating to a children’s hospital. Corporate social responsibility programs are a great way to give back to a community, and it is getting easier for meeting planners to incorporate CSR into their events. Here is just one example.
Love, Actually (2003)
This British rom-com features several memorable scenes including Hugh Grant as a prime minister dancing through 10 Downing Street, a declaration of love delivered by drop cards which has since become the basis for multiple memes, and lots of joyous airport arrivals. The takeaway: Music can elevate any situation, from a funeral to the aforementioned dancing PM. It’s also nice to include everyone in your activities, even if it means thinking outside the box. The nativity scene at a local school features not one but multiple Christmas lobsters.
We can’t help you with Christmas lobsters, but read this guide to make sure you have the rights to your music.
The Shining (1980)
Not specifically a holiday movie, but there is snow on the ground and there are several large party scenes set in a hotel ballroom. The plot follows a family living in a haunted Colorado hotel during the offseason. The father loses his mind and attempts to murder his wife and son, but the son’s psychic abilities help them, and they eventually escape from the snowbound property in a snowmobile. The takeaway: Bring a psychic friend to any off-season site visits.
Seriously, for planners, the biggest takeaway from this movie is to prepare for unforeseen incidents, so double-check your force majeure contract clauses. Murderous ghosts might be a stretch, but volcanoes, hurricanes, snowmageddon, and other acts of god can be included.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
This classic animated film based on the Dr. Seuss book of the same name shows how a town, terrorized by a local outcast, can still celebrate the holidays without presents or feasts. The takeaway: Be flexible. Things happen. Speakers miss flights, attendees have medical emergencies, grinches steal roast beasts.
Here are some case histories of planners who kept calm and carried on.
Bathtubs Over Broadway (2018)
This documentary about industrial musicals—plays produced for corporate sales meetings and conventions—doesn’t have a Christmas theme, but it’s catnip for planners who want to relax over the holidays. Turns out that these kitschy productions that push products and corporate slogans have an artsy underbelly and have employed many rising stars over the years. The takeaway: The no-name entertainer you hire today could be the Bob Newhart or Martin Short of tomorrow. (Yes, they acted in industrials!) Here’s some advice for successfully hiring entertainers and speakers.
Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened (2019)
While in no way a holiday movie, planners who enjoy the horror genre must see this documentary about a music festival so badly planned that attendees were left without food or running water. For planners taking stock at the end of the year, it’s a chance to feel pretty good about their own skills, and for attendees, it’s a chance to appreciate the care and competence that goes into every event. The takeaway: Don’t employ Billy McFarland, Fyre Festival CEO and cofounder, on any of your events. (You couldn’t even if you wanted to. He’s serving time for fraud.)
Here are some less predictable event disasters, and how planners were able to overcome them.
Planes, Train and Automobiles (1987)
Steve Martin and John Candy play strangers trying to get home to Chicago for the holidays and being thrust together to face various obstacles such as blizzards, breakdowns, and bad choices. Their relationship has hilarious ups and downs as they help each other and then fall out, but in the end, human kindness wins. The takeaway: Be kind.
That’s it. That’s the takeaway. Be kind this holiday season.