Planning the Perfect Office Christmas Party

The office Christmas party is a unique event full of cliché – dry turkey, flirtatious bosses, and unusual photocopies… but despite these, it’s a valuable time. All staff wants one, though they don’t all want the same thing.

I am a massive fan of office Christmas parties. Over the course of a year, you can form various impressions of your colleagues, so it’s a nice opportunity to forget about work and socialize with everybody. Many characters come out, and it can improve working relationships for the year to come – but it’s a tough challenge to organise.

The big problem is that you’re trying to please a large group of people, who are all very different, so it’s quite difficult to plan a great party that will please everybody, and which meets your budget.

This quick guide covers a few points to help you organize a great Christmas office party.

Date

The date can be the hardest thing to plan because you’re going to eat into people’s social time, which at around Christmas is very limited. It’s going to be a tough call to have the party on a Friday night or a weekend; the drop-out rate will be high. As an employer you’ll have to sacrifice working hours, possibly starting the party at lunch on a weekday, mid week – and expecting staff to be probably late and not very productive on the following working day.

When you have a rough date in mind, make sure everybody knows, that way people will have enough notice to plan everything else they need to do both at work and at home.

Partners?

Should you allow partners to come to the office Christmas party? Most probably not, it’s firstly hard on those without partners, it can make staff withdraw from the group to socialise with their spouse, and also it increases the numbers and therefore the complexity of organising. Do though, remember people have partners, particularly when issuing Christmas cards to staff.

Location

The site of the party is important as your staff might commute a long way to work with you. The further you go from the office, the more likely you are too upset some of your group. If everybody lives in one area, then that area would be straightforward to have a party in, or if you are willing to organise and pay for all travel, then people may not mind where the party is. On a final note, it is often fun to keep the top location secret.

Make sure the location can accommodate all of your group, and if you’re planning an overnight – ensure all staff gets their room.

Transport

Ensuring you transport staff to the party and back to the office should be a minimum requirement. Organising for them to get home (if unable to drive) and maybe back to work the next day, would be a much-appreciated gesture. For instance, organising a car pool or shared taxi. One solution could be to group staff by where they live and arrange a minibus taxi to drop them all off, that way you can be sure the team gets home safe, and it will cost less.

Gifts / secret Santa

If you plan to have a secret office Santa, remember to plan this well in advance. Put names into a hat to allow the allocation to be truly random and set a spending limit that means people won’t find present values unfair.

Food

Tradition Christmas fair is fun and appreciated, though consider that your group may have varied dietary requirements so ensure alternatives are available. It’s worth considering paying for the food if you’re splitting the overall costs with the staff.

Alcohol

Provide too much alcohol, and you’re encouraging unhealthy behaviour, provide too little, and you’re a Scrooge. Half a bottle of wine or 2 beers per person is a reasonable amount to provide after that have more available at the employee’s cost.

Entertainment

It’s fun to involve entertainment that includes the staff like karaoke, or games. This is often more fun and also less expensive than paying for a show.

Accommodation

It’s worth considering housing as an alternative to taxis’. This can mean you can find a venue further from work and raise no complaints. Hotels can be expensive so renting a house for your staff can work very well – in fact, the house itself can be the venue.

Ideas for a brilliant office Christmas party.

With all this in mind, a good idea for an office Christmas party would be to rent a large house with lots of open space and plenty of rooms to sleep, staff. (This may not be feasible if you’re a large company!!)

This provides high-value location and accommodation and cuts down on transportation costs. Food can be cooked on location, and the environment will be relaxed and homely.

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