Many employers facing tightened budgets may feel that the office Christmas party is not a high priority this year. However, it can be an ideal way of letting your workers know they are valued and also give them an opportunity to let off steam.  

Get staff and workers involved by taking a vote on a selection of ideas to fit your budget. Keep costs down and keep the workforce happy by getting their opinions on what they would enjoy best. Don’t waste money on unnecessary items without finding out first what staff actually want.

A great Christmas party doesn’t solely depend on the venue. For instance, if you have a large enough space to hold the party don’t waste precious resources on an outside venue. It can be best to choose a setting away from your work space (and thus avoiding any shenanigans in the stationary cupboard!), but if funds won’t stretch that far, score double brownie points by not only providing a party for the staff, but giving them time off to boot. A lunch time gathering, with simple buffet catering, together with wine and beers is an ideal way of partying on a budget.  Dressing up and prizes for best outfit are fun ways of breaking the ice. Choose a late night shopping day for the event. Start at midday and let staff leave early; they’ll thank you for the extra shopping time and hopefully won’t get too drunk as a result!

If you decide to hire a venue make sure you negotiate. Many firms are willing to offer discounts in order to secure orders. Get a few quotes to use as a negotiating tool. As with the office party, hiring a cheap local venue can be a good option on a tight budget. Opt for simple catering and bar and either splash out on a DJ or do it yourself with non-stop holiday tunes.  Consider ordering in fish and chip suppers or making it a curry night for a different twist. Games and secret Santa presents can add to the fun and create an entertaining but relatively cheap evening.

Any Christmas party will go down more enjoyably with staff if they are given some time off the following day. Consider offering a later start or the following morning off. Staff will thank you and what may not have been a productive day can be turned into a positive (and money saving) work day.

Consider using your local pub or restaurant. Ask them if they offer discount to businesses in the area. They are more likely to offer you a discount or be flexible on times,  numbers and minimum spend if you regularly use them. If you book with a chain restaurant check for online vouchers and discounts which may be available, especially if you book early. If everyone is paying their way, agree how much your colleagues are prepared to spend when it comes to picking venues. Look at menus and prices in advance so you don’t get any nasty surprises when the bill arrives.

If your workforce are of different ages and tastes, pick something that most people will enjoy. From bowling to skating, paintball or making pottery, spy missions, murder mysteries and treasure hunts. There are many activities to choose from and to cater to your budget.

Many venues organise shared parties so however small your workforce you can be part of a great party and experience all the benefits of a large party without having to organise it yourself. Itineraries can include sit down meal, disco, live music, masked ball, fancy dress, entertainers, and even a survivor’s breakfast in some cases! Prices per person usually start at around £35 depending on the venue. Hotels sometimes offer reduced rates on a night’s stay afterwards avoiding the trouble of getting home at the end of the night.

As opposed to a “Christmas” party, consider having a “wintertime” party in January when prices may be cheaper. Food-wise, buffets are usually cheaper than sit-down dinners. Stick to a bar budget or consider a cash bar. Drink tickets can be a fairer option with staff having an allocated number of tickets to purchase drinks.

Not so much in the spirit of Christmas bonding, but consider taking a vote on whether your employees would prefer a cash present rather than a party. This is often cheaper than organising an event, with the management time involved to be taken into account. If your firm doesn’t usually offer Christmas bonuses then this can be a welcome gift for employees at an expensive time of year.

Remember, an office party is an investment in your staff’s well-being. It can help you show your workforce that they are valued and it is a good morale booster in the long run. Keep this in mind when considering the budget.

If you enjoyed this blog post then perhaps you would like to read “Can You Really Afford To Outsource Your Workload?