Christmas, Time to Party?

Business Insights

You may only just be shaking the sand out of your sandals, but as any event organiser will tell you it is never too early to book your Christmas Party, that way the date and venue are assured.

Some businesses take a negative view and wonder about the point of having a Christmas party at all, after all it can be very expensive and time consuming to organise, it is difficult to please everyone and there are so many things to consider, lunch time or evening, whether to include partners or not, open bar, wine on the tables, venue, entertainment, will accommodation be necessary… wonder that some companies are ducking out of the whole thing all together!

That would be a shame, because the Christmas party is an important opportunity to reward and engage with employees. A Christmas party that celebrates the achievements of the previous year and the key contributions individuals have made, while stressing the contribution the whole team has made by working together, is very motivational. You might even choose to include some awards for less obvious contributions such as attendance or timekeeping.

Employees that have developed the type of relationships, based on personal interactions that Christmas office parties encourage, are much more likely to work better as a team when needed. For instance, by building a personal understanding and a level of empathy with one another, employees tend to share workloads, when pressurized situations call for it, and tackle testing tasks as a team, rather than a collective of individuals.

Sam Booth, the head of Keele University’s events arm Keele Conferences, agreed, saying,

“It’s the one time of year that you get the chance to truly reward employees for their input and engage them with business objectives for the year ahead. No matter how big or small your Christmas budget, businesses should not underestimate the long-term value of engaging with employees by getting into the festive spirit.”

We would argue that partners should always be included, especially when receiving an award, but it is great for them to be included in order to get to know their partner’s colleagues. Including partners also tends to mean that less alcohol is consumed and that the event stays social, rather than degenerating into shop talk and office gossip.

The important thing is that the event should be a success and remembered for all the right reasons! Holding it in the office or just looking around for the cheapest hotel serving “rubber” chicken and making the guest list staff-only just won’t cut the mustard nowadays.

You could choose one of the Christmas party specialists whose entire business is centred round ensuring a memorable event with carefully selected food and entertainment. Then for many hotels Christmas is a major event, and they too may offer entertainment. One advantage of a hotel is that there will usually be a separate room where you can have your pre-event award ceremony or annual meeting, and in the case of an evening do – accommodation.

You can relax and know that everything from parking to enough loos will have been thought of with either of these options it is just a matter of putting your guest list together, advising the venue on numbers and any food preferences, and paying the bill.

There is no rule that you must serve alcohol at your party, but it is usually expected, although younger people tend to drink much less these days. You want all your guests to have a good time, but you have a legal duty to supervise your guests and make sure they all get home safely if they have consumed alcohol at your party. So just make sure that there are plenty of alcohol free options available and water on the tables as well as drinks on arrival and perhaps wine on the table followed by a paid bar

Or why not make this the year you really shake things up a bit? Try thinking of your party as an event rather than a get-together. Instead of the traditional sit-around-somewhere-and-eat party, you could host a golf, skating, or bowling party. Or turn your party into a Christmas-themed murder mystery, circus or scavenger hunt. Remember, to pick something that everyone can do.

We tend to think of parties as evening affairs, but they don't have to be. Even if your office Christmas party idea is to host a meal for your guests at a restaurant or hotel, people will drink less at a lunch rather than a dinner.

If you are inviting staff and their families to your company party, people's expectations and behaviours will change, and more people will be likely to attend as they don't have to get babysitters.

Whatever you do, change it from year to year, make it unexpected and something to look forward to.