Insurance · 26 November 2015

‘Tis the season to be jolly – But why is the office Christmas party such a big deal?

There are options when it comes to the Christmas party
There are options when it comes to the Christmas party

Does it seem like the pressure is on for you to provide the best Christmas party ever for your team?

Staff expectations can run high and you might feel torn by needing to keep your party within a certain budget, but wanting to ensure that your staff are rewarded and feel valued.

No business owner wants unhappy staff. Almost three-quarters of firms believe that employees are crucial to helping their business become “sustainably successful”, according to a study published by Bupa. And many employees can link their worth to the business with how they feel that they are rewarded at Christmas.

Regardless of whether or not your staff wants a party, they do want the recognition that everyone has worked hard and accomplished a lot so do consider how you can reward them.

A Christmas party is just one way to reward employees. We’ve come up with some alternative ideas to suit every budget.

According to Bupa’s research, two in five employees (44 per cent) would love their work to help them make positive changes to their lifestyle.

Forget the party?

Give everyone a “shopping day”. Close the office at midday and send everyone home, and if you’ve got the funds, give everyone a £50 gift voucher to spend at the nearest shopping centre. If you can’t shut the whole office, let everyone have a half (or whole) day off that doesn’t count against their holiday allowance and let them take it sometime in December.

Consider moving the party to January

If you want to have an offsite party, it will be cheaper to do it after the Christmas holiday rush. Hotel banquet rooms are open. Caterers are more likely to be available, and at a cheaper price, in January. So give your employees something to look forward to, at a discounted price.

Cheaper venue

Alternatively you could hold the party during working hours and at the office. You don’t have to rent a venue, and you win the hearts of employees who would rather not spend their precious free time with their colleagues. Order from the best takeaway and cupcakes from the local bakery. Dress the boardroom up and get someone to do a playlist. Organise party games with prizes. Give everyone a late start the next morning, or the morning off to go Christmas shopping.

What about a potluck supper?

You need to work out beforehand if this will be right for your company. Some people love them. Some people hate them. But, if you’ve been blessed with an office manager that makes the world’s best chocolate tart or a sales manager who has a recipe for red thai chicken curry that has to be tried to be believed, it will be a huge success. Another option: host a modified potluck where you provide the desserts and your team provides the starter or main course.

Good communication builds stronger working relationships. So whatever you do, speak to your staff. What is it that they like to do and what is important to them?

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Hunter Ruthven was previously editor of Business Advice. He was also the editor of Real Business, the UK's most-read website for entrepreneurs and business leaders at the helm of growing SMEs.

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