· Features

How to host the perfect Christmas party

Planning a successful Christmas party for employees can be difficult, and providing something a diverse workforce will all enjoy can quickly become a headache.

Tim Stevens, managing director of Best Parties Ever and Christmas party guru, gives his top tips for a successful event:

  • Giving your Christmas party a theme can make it more unusual and memorable. For example, the year the company was founded, or some other important milestone.
  • To get employee buy-in, try and involve them in planning. Ask them what they’d like; perhaps have a committee with a mix of management and employees to agree what form the party will take and who is responsible for arranging it.
  • Set a clear budget; make sure everyone involved is aware of it.
  • Give careful consideration to the location of your party; how accessible is it for all of your employees? You might need to lay on coaches to take them there – and make sure they can all get home easily and safely afterwards.
  • If you’re having entertainment, offer it in short bursts. For example, between each course if you’re serving a meal. Entertainment is a great idea, but it can go on too long and far exceed your guests’ attention spa.
  • Provide plenty of food and don’t serve it too late. Make sure you offer a selection of interesting non-alcoholic drinks too.
  • It’s also worth remembering that an office Christmas party is one of the most tax efficient ways of rewarding staff, with £150 tax allowance per head and no NI contributions. 
  • Finally, make employees aware of what is and is not acceptable behaviour. It’s your company event, so you are ultimately responsible and liable for anything your staff do.

However, not all employees will like the idea of a big, costly, alcohol-fuelled Christmas party so it could be worth offering some alternatives too, points out Angela O’Connor. “The Christmas party is not very family-friendly or designed to appeal to a mixture of faith groups,” she says. “Try some different options such as an afternoon tea party that staff can bring their kids to. Provide great cakes and a variety of teas and hot chocolates.  Another option might be a big breakfast at a local cafe or a brunch event."

Further reading

Rewarding employees at Christmas