The Office Christmas Party

Business Insights

There’s no better excuse for a party than Christmas, but is your festive shindig to be avoided at all costs? Or do you and colleagues rush to dance around the photocopier to Slade?

‘The Office Christmas Party’ is now as entrenched in our seasonal celebrations as pulling crackers and silly hats.

But for every happy elf, there’s a party-pooping Grinch determined to avoid the staff get-together at all costs. Sometimes you couldn’t blame them. Who hasn’t been at a do where someone got a bit too free with the sherry? Too much of the falling down water can make the fun terrible in seconds. We all like to let our hair down but no-one wants to remember the office party for inappropriate and drunken behaviour, resulting in a loss of professional and personal respect - and sometimes more.

“What I don't like about office Christmas parties is looking for a job the next day,” says American comedian Phyllis Diller. We know what she’s saying . . .

Some dread the thought of finding out that ‘nice quiet’ Hugh in accounts has appalling Roaming Hands Syndrome, others want to forget how HR’s Alison took her role so personally with IT’s Martin in the broom cupboard, while too many more are cringing at those photocopies of their nether regions pinned up on display in the staff room.

Even bosses can think twice about attending the office party. They want to kick back and relax, not be buttonholed by someone in fancy dress, or the most awful festive sweater, keen to demonstrate why they’re ideal for that next big promotion. Faux pas of major proportions these - but if organised and handled correctly, there are many more reason to simply have a wonderful Christmas office party time

The occasion can be a great bonding experience as it might be one of the only times different departments socialise together; interns to company directors. Talking together outside the work environment can mean improved relationships inside.

From a management perspective, lay on an event that people talk about for weeks and it can help positively shape employees’ view of their company and their experience of working there. And as a thank-you for a year of hard work and effort, a good party is hard to beat.

It can also boost client relationships. Inviting customers demonstrates your appreciation of their business. It’s not the time for business deals, but a few minutes of casual conversation can bring in new contracts.

There may be some Scrooges who think a party is money wasted - but UK bosses have realised the pros outweigh the cons. Recent statistics show that over half (53%) of UK companies are putting hefty budgets aside for an end of year blow-out, with a further 33% intending to throw one budget permitting. That means just 14% of organisations are abstaining from the festivities altogether.

Whether the plan is for a grand nosh-up followed by an all-out get-on-down boogie night (all in the best possible taste) or a smaller gathering, there’s party out there not to be missed.

Dinner in a local pub, hotel or restaurant before hitting a nearby nightclub is not uncommon for smaller companies, who often take advantage of special festive offers and seasonal menus.

Many venues - large and small - can provide the complete package and the region is full of great places which can either lay on a party night or can be booked as a whole to provide a bespoke evening. Country clubs, conference centres, private event spaces - you name them, they're here in abundance, with plenty of event companies on hand to create winter wonderlands, Santa’s grottos and fairgrounds - all manner of places to give the evening a really special feel.

If you’re looking to hold something in the office, it still need not be a humdrum affair. Actually, if in your own premises the event can be much more personal, relaxed and convenient for employees and there are events companies who can readily bring the party into the workplace, magicking conference rooms into Christmas Central, or - in the case of one company - a pop-up restaurant.

If you don’t want to transform your room, you can still go to town on the food by bringing in catering professionals who ensure you reach for much more than a crust-curling ham sandwich on a tin platter.

Bring in a DJ and suddenly the night is yours. Not necessarily rocking around the Christmas tree, more like the water cooler. Merry Xmas Everybody!