Spending on office Christmas parties by UK businesses is back on the rise, with companies splashing out nearly £1bn on shindigs in 2015, according to event-planning website Eventbrite.
After almost a decade of corporate austerity (only four in ten businesses held a Christmas party in 2009) it seems the festive office bash is back. Some 72 per cent of firms held a Christmas event in 2015, spending, on average, £42.48 per employee.
But party planning can be a stressful undertaking. Where should the event be held? Can it be organised on a budget? What entertainment options are there? Here, we offer advice for organising a party to impress even the grumpiest office Scrooge.
START PLANNING EARLY
It may be difficult to think about Christmas in September, but organisation is key when it comes to planning an office party and will mean considerably less stress later down the line. A lot of venues, especially the larger ones, get booked up early so it’s worth thinking ahead so you don’t miss out. It’s also important to set the date; it won’t be possible to please everyone in the office so choose a date that suits the majority. Once it’s confirmed, email a ‘save the date’ to everyone.
FIND OUT WHAT THE BUDGET IS
There’s no point contacting venues or suppliers if you don’t know how much money you have to spend. Once you know how big the budget is, consider what’s most important to you and your colleagues – the meal, the entertainment or the location, for example. Find out whether staff can bring guests as this is an extra cost to factor in. Christmas parties tend to be a reward for staff, so think about what the employees will value most. And don’t splurge the whole budget at the beginning – save some money for any unexpected costs that might arise later.
CONSIDER LOCATION AND VENUE CAREFULLY
Once you know the number of people attending, start looking at venues. Do as much research as possible and then visit the ones on your shortlist. Visiting a venue will allow you to suss out whether the space is suitable for your party – and it’s a chance to chat to the venue’s events team or manager. Ask for a quote for each venue you visit and weigh up the benefits of each one. Although one venue might be slightly more expensive, it may be closer to public transport links, for example, which means you’ll save money on transfers.
DON’T SCRIMP ON THE ENTERTAINMENT
Entertainment is key to a good party, whether that’s a decent DJ, karaoke or entertainers such as comedians or magicians. If you’re working to a tight budget there are plenty of ways to keep guests entertained without spending a fortune. Why not organise a games room with giant Jenga or chess? Or perhaps plan a quiz with small prizes for the winners? Entertainment is a way of bringing everyone together – and will be remembered a long time after the event is over.
MAKE SURE THERE IS PLENTY OF FOOD
Christmas parties are largely boozy affairs, with wine and beer often flowing all night, so it’s a good idea to encourage people to soak up the alcohol with food. Most venues have on-site catering, and if they don’t they will be able to suggest an appropriate external option. If you don’t want a formal sit-down meal, there are also plenty of options for more casual eating, such as a hog roast or festive buffet. When looking at menus, make sure there are vegetarian options.
THINK ABOUT HAVING A THEME
A theme can be a fantastic way to add a bit of pizazz to your event. If you want to get everyone involved in the theme, make it clear from the start that there is going to be a dress code. Alternatively, you can just deck the venue out. There are plenty of ideas to choose from, including traditional Christmas, film inspired, winter wonderland or different decades (20s, 60s or 80s, for example).