Business development · 24 November 2015

Small business owners don’t need to blow the bank on annual staff do

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Christmas parties are a great way to boost morale within a small firm

It’s that time of year again and Christmas party season is fast approaching. Party planners at companies across the UK will no doubt be on the verge of booking the tried-and-tested overpriced sticky-floored room above their local pub, over-ordering on the booze and wondering whether that dubious DJ that played their friend’s wedding has any Slade in and amongst their record collection.

Christmas parties congratulate employees for working hard throughout the year and can be a great boost for morale, but small business owners don’t need to blow the bank on the annual staff do.

Rather than throw money at a party that staff may or may not choose to attend, Business Advice has some ideas that could help small firms create a memorable occasion and also see some money left over for January.

(1) Compare prices

If opting to hire a venue for eating and drinking, make sure to spend enough time researching the latest and greatest deals in some of the places you’re interested to book. The Whetherspoons over the road from the office may be advertising a ten per cent discount, but the smaller family-run pub close by may provide a cheaper, more bespoke alternative. Venues are also more likely to negotiate their prices for group events, so don’t be afraid to haggle.

(2) Ask around

If financial constraints cause a worry that many staff will be left unsatisfied with the company’s chosen Christmas bash, ask people to contribute ideas. It may be that most staff opt to stay in the office to party, thereby avoiding having to spend big on venue hire. If Christmas party ideas get listened to, staff will more likely attend and make it the end of year team bonding experience it’s supposed to be.

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Small businesses don’t need to overspend when organising staff Christmas parties

(3) Bring your own

Another great way to involve staff and keep costs down is to ask people to bring their own food and gifts to the party. Bringing a dish to a company buffet encourages staff to show off their culinary skills to workmates and makes a cost effective (and often tastier) alternative to the standard turkey and stuffing meal most of us forget.

Secret santa, too, is a great way to get staff excited about Christmas parties. A £10 limit on gifts won’t put people off, gets staff talking, and will leave everyone with a personalised memento to take home, leaving firms guilt-free about not buying the gifts themselves.

(4) Fancy dress and karaoke

Mayfair restaurants and Soho nightclubs can be a laugh if you can foot the bill, but a themed fancy dress Christmas party in the office will be a sillier, cheaper and a more relaxed way to bring staff together. And, watching their boss drunkenly belt out Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer” is enough of an early Christmas present for most people.

(5) Put it off

A Christmas party in January you say? Unusual, yes, but as most employees look forward to time away from seeing their colleagues over Christmas, and as prices for venue-hire will invariably be much lower after the new year, many small businesses would benefit from planning a party that’ll help ease staff’s January blues. Returning to work can be an ordeal, so what better way to rally your troops than to see the new year in with the party no one wanted in December.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.

HR