As the festive season approaches, it’s time to start planning the biggest event of the year: the work Christmas party. Pulling off a great celebration is about more than just marking the occasion. It can be great for team building, offering staff the opportunity to socialise and get to know each other outside of their day-to-day work. A well-executed party can also be great for morale, as it gives you the chance to show your appreciation after a year of hard work.
To help you pull it off, the experts from office space rental agency Making Moves share their tips for hosting the perfect Christmas bash in your office.
Benefits of hosting in your office
While there are some great venue choices when it comes to the Christmas party, there are many reasons why your office space is the perfect place to host your festive gathering. For one, it can save you the cost of renting a venue for the night, meaning you can spend more of your party budget on food, drinks, décor, and entertainment. In the current economic climate, hosting an in-office party ensures your holiday celebrations can still go ahead.
It’s also likely that you’ve picked an office space that’s in a convenient location for your staff to get to. Hosting your party in the office means your work events are still accessible to all staff, whether they’re travelling by public transport, taxi, or driving.
What’s more, encouraging staff to come to the office for your party could inspire them to return to the office full-time in the new year, something 73% of companies are struggling to do (The Conference Board). Use your Christmas party as an excuse to show off all the great amenities your office space has.
Legal obligations as an employer
It’s important to remember that your Christmas party is legally considered an extension of working hours, even if hosted in the evening or on other premises. This means your duties as an employer still stand. Make sure everyone is aware that your workplace policies will still be in effect during the celebration, including health and safety and harassment policies. If an incident does occur, it should be handled as if it happened during the working day.
Similarly, if your party is happening on work premises and alcohol is provided, you will be responsible for your employee’s behaviour during and after the party. To help keep everything under control, it’s a good idea to regulate alcohol consumption by offering drink tokens. Once the tokens run out, employees will then need to pay for any further drinks. Make sure you have non-alcoholic options available too.
Before your event, it’s also a good idea to check that your employer’s liability insurance and directors’ and office insurances are up to date, to help protect your staff and yourself.
Asking staff how to celebrate
The Christmas party is a chance to get the whole team together for an evening of celebrations, to not only enjoy the festive season but also reward them for their years’ worth of hard work. As an end-of-year incentive, it’s important that everyone feels included in your celebrations. So, when planning aspects like food, drinks, and games, try to consider the needs of your company as a whole.
For example, avoid centring the whole event around alcohol as some co-workers may not drink, and be sure to consider religious and dietary requirements when it comes to food and theming. Even something as simple as naming it a ‘holiday party’ or ‘end-of-year’ party can help those who don’t celebrate Christmas feel more included. Similarly, you may want to host your office party during the day if you have a large proportion of parents in your workforce.
It’s possible that your staff have a clear idea of how they’d like to mark the occasion, but according to data from Perkbox, 60% of employers fail to ask their team how they’d like to celebrate the festive season, meaning their well-meaning efforts could miss the mark.
To find the right way to reward your staff, you could try sending out a company-wide survey to ensure your event is both accessible and enjoyable for everyone, as well as being a valuable and appreciated reward. For example, a survey conducted by Superscript found that 70% of staff prefer Friday-night events, as most public transport companies offer late-night services over the weekend, making it easier for them to get home. Meanwhile, team dinners are more popular than other types of celebrations. Even simply involving your staff in the decision-making process can be enough to help them feel valued.
Planning festive activities
No party would be complete without a bit of entertainment to keep the party spirit going. Just because you’re in the office doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a great night. If your budget allows, consider hiring a DJ, karaoke machine, or even a live band. You can also make your own entertainment by creating a fun playlist and hosting a few festive games —there are plenty of games you can do in an office setting. How about a game of ‘Name that Tune’? Or perhaps a Christmas jumper competition with a small prize for the jazziest outfit.
The Christmas party is the perfect time of year to reward your staff and celebrate all their hard work so, alongside general party games, you could host a small awards ceremony. You can ask staff to nominate their coworkers for an award a week before your party, or even create a personalised award based on everyone’s personality (such as a ‘most organised’ award). Make sure to offer small thank-you gifts too. Small but useful tokens like a gift voucher are sure to be appreciated and mean the recipient can spend it on whatever they want.
Budgeting for your party
While it’s easy to get carried away during the festive season, make sure to determine a total budget for your party before you start planning. Once you know how much you have available to spend, you can work out how much to allocate to food and drink, decorations, and entertainment. It’s also worth remembering that HMRC provides tax relief against the cost of hosting a social event like the Christmas party as long as it’s annual, open to all employees, and costs £150 or less per person. So, you might want to factor this into your budget too.
How you assign your budget entirely depends on your company values, your staff, and the results of your company-wide survey (if you held one). For instance, you may want to spend a little more on catering for a workforce of foodies or allocate the majority of your resources to entertainment. However you choose to budget for your party, be sure to keep a reserve on hand in case of any last-minute changes or emergencies.
If you’re hosting your party in a co-working space, consider asking your office mates if they’d like to join in on the celebrations. Not only does this allow you to get to know them better, but you can also share the cost of hosting the event.