Company Christmas Parties - What to consider

Written by Paul
Aug 02, 2014

Office Christmas Parties - What to Consider

It’s the time of year when Christmas party bookings start flowing in. Of course some early birds have already caught their worms and we’ve seen bookings being taken since January, however now is when, for most companies, Christmas appears on the radar and planning begins for the annual festive bash. Often blogs about Christmas parties focus too much on where to go and selling you ideas, here we want to look at what you should consider when booking a Christmas party.

Who’s Going: Now we don’t mean put a list together of everyone in the office but rather what are they like and what do they like? Work is a funny place, a hot pot of personalities and preferences. It’s important to remember that you can’t please all the people all of the time. Whereas some staff would love for a night of dancing, drinking and merriment, other would prefer a more sedate affair and then of course there are always those who would prefer a to have open heart surgery without anesthetic while being serenaded by Cliff repeatedly singing Mistletoe and Wine than attend a social event with their colleagues. The easiest way to find out what people want is to ask and go with the general consensus.

Date: A crucial decision is when to host your Christmas party. December is generally a sensible month to choose, that said if your company is particularly busy then, as is the case in the hospitality industry, then late November or January are good months, and price is often discounted. You’ll need to consider whether to go for a midweek date, which may see a few muzzy heads in the office the following morning, or a Friday/Saturday night, which during the festive period may see a lower attendance as staff fill their social calendars with other engagement.

Location/Travel: Where to hold the event will generally depend on where the company is located and where to staff live in relation. Look at how people will be getting to the party, transport methods etc and then narrow down a geographic area which the venue should be in.

Budget: Where to start! As with all events it depends on location, venue and food/drink. Outside London hotels/venues will start Christmas packages from £30 a head, reaching £60-80 for the all singing and dancing marquees with themeing and entertainment that are increasingly popular. In London we deal with venues that start with 3 course meals at £40pp through to venues where you won’t see much change from £200pp.

Food: As ever food can make or break an event. The office Christmas party is often synonymous with dried turkey, limp spuds and overcooked veg akin to that of a school dinner. The food should fit the theme of the event and always be tried before the event to make sure it’s worthy. An interesting trend this year is the demand for street food, a less formal way of dining where guests have numerous options.

Safety: Probably an entire blog in itself, safety at staff event has become a major issue in recent years due to numerous high profile accidents, and even deaths, caused at or as a result of company events. Alcohol is one of the biggest factors to consider, a party without it won’t be much fun but you should fully look at the risks involved with supplying open bars. Insurance should also be investigated, making sure that your own employee liability is up to scratch and that the venue and suppliers used also carry adequate liability insurance. It’s generally a good idea to nominate a few designated sober guests, chances are you won’t have many volunteers! They will be there to make sure people don’t get to boisterous and that everyone leaves the venues safely. When it comes to getting home people will generally be responsible for making their own way back, but this is where problems can arise. There have been a number of recent post corporate party deaths where party goers have not made it safely home. While the companies are generally exonerated of blame the press received is rarely positive. Some businesses have taken to supplying taxis for staff after every event, other will lay on mini buses and some will even provide accommodation.

Alcohol: When it comes to the booze there are numerous options. Most packages will include a half bottle of wine per person but this can be topped up a number of ways. Many venues will offer drinks packages with unlimited beer and house wines/spirits for a set time period. You could go for the full account bar, settled by the boss at the end of the evening. If you do make sure to restrict any drinks that may cause you to put the business into administration the following morning.

Spouses: To invite or not to invite, that is the question. To put it simply inviting spouses will generally double the cost but half the trouble.

Tax Breaks: Did you know that for a annual parties you can spend £150 per head that’s totally tax deductible? This doesn’t just apply for staff but all guests including spouses, suppliers, customers etc, although staff should make up the bulk of the guests. You can spend the money how you like on venues, entertainment, prizes, booze, accommodation and so on. Here's a great guide to Christmas party tax breaks from accountants Grant Thornton.

Feedback: We’ve discussed getting opinions before the event but it’s also imperative you get some feedback once the morning after hangovers have cleared. This can be invaluable when planning next years bash.

Do you require a venue for a Christmas party in the UK? If so click here to make a free enquiry and see up to the minute availability and prices for suitable venues.