Christmas can be a stressful time of year when you have a work party to organise.
Christmas parties can be really complicated if you are booking for more than 30 people, as large rooms must have an in-house kitchen on-site and that greatly restricts suitable spaces for Christmas parties.
Conference centres normally outsource food, so they are not able to provide a quality meal for Christmas parties whereas restaurants normally don’t have enough space to accommodate large numbers of people in one room.
The ideal choice for work Christmas parties are hotels, but as everyone wants to book their Christmas party on 13th or 14th of December – the amount of venues is limited for these particular days. Large Christmas parties are often booked in January or around summer time to secure a suitable space. Start your Christmas party search early if you don’t want to miss out on good rooms!
Start from managing expectations, make a list of what is a ‘must have’ at your party and then plan your budget accordingly.
Budget should include a 3 course dinner & half bottle of wine with optional welcoming drinks. A photographer and/or DJ can add few hundred pounds each so always keep these costs in mind.
Shared or exclusive?
Christmas parties can be either shared or exclusive, both options are good, but they are totally different experiences.
Shared parties allow you to meet new people from other companies and experience a high end production and entertainment of big events.
Exclusive parties allow you to have privacy and gives you full control of all aspects of the event. With exclusive parties you can customise to include a range of drinks, various entertainment and decorations.
You can be flexible with your Christmas party dates. It’s an acceptable practice to have your Christmas party as early as November or as late as January.
Last Friday before Christmas is the most desired date for most companies, so if you are planning to book on that day – be sure to book early.
Two to three weeks before Christmas, the availability is much better.
Sundays – venues do accept Christmas bookings for Sundays. It might sound a bit unusual for Monday to Friday businesses, but for businesses that are open 24/7, Sunday might be the ideal day as venues can be lenient on providing a hefty discount.
January – who would do a Christmas party in January?! Actually, most hospitality companies organise Christmas parties in January as their December is usually busy hosting parties.
Food & Drinks
3 Course Dinner Turkey and Christmas Pudding should always be on the menu, but don’t forget about food requirements of your co-workers – vegetarian, vegan, Kosher and Halal options should be made available.
Canapes – if you are bored of a traditional dining experience, canapes are ideal option when you want to keep your Christmas more casual. This works especially well when accompanied by wine.
Time – the typical Christmas party starts from 6-7pM and finishes at 11PM, as venues have strict restrictions on Alcohol Licenses. However venues can apply with the local council for an extended alcohol license on the day of your party – this request requires at least 31 days prior notice.
Unlimited drinks – venues do not always advertise it, but it’s a great value for money, typically with house wines and spirits for a limited time (1-2 hours).
Tab on the bar – if you rather have a tab on the bar, plan limits and consider at least £20 to £30 per person. Always keep this in check as few people can spiral the bill out of control. Alternatively consider a voucher system for the drinks!
Extras for the Christmas Party
1) DJ & Dance floor – playing music from a playback can be an inexpensive solution but a good DJ will make your Christmas party great fun by setting the mood to dance! Don’t rely on a friend of a friend – get a professional, as a good DJ will engage everyone in dancing and activities.
2) Magic Mirror or Photobooth – can serve as a great alternative to a photographer. These usually come with a selection of accessories, such as wigs and masks, and photos are printed on the spot – good value of money.
3) Team Building Activities – there are variety of entertainers available with fun team building activities, from Casino Evenings to Murder Mysteries.
4) Photographer – you can always use your phone to take a photo or camera that you use for holidays, but due to low light conditions during most of the Christmas parties, it’s better to book a professional. Companies such splento.com can organise a photographer within hours at affordable prices. No 1 rule …. no photos after 10PM!
How to avoid disaster whilst booking Christmas Party:
1) Confirm your numbers – send an email round your company or department with a proposed date and request a RSVP within two weeks. Venus have strict cancellation fees and you may not get a refund if you lower your numbers last minute. Venues may also not be able to accommodate extra people last minute.
1) book early – best rooms are booked as early as January, settling for a second (or fifth) best venue, or moving days can ruin the entire experience
2) budget it to include extras – DJ, welcome drinks or wine can cost as much as the dinner itself. Christmas Lunch/Dinner without any entertainment or drinks can turn into a really boring and awkward dinner.
3) Location and transport – more remote venues might have competitive prices and extra space but consider how everyone will get there, and … go back home. Should the public transport not be accessible, consider organising accommodation or a private hire coach.
4) Take Pre-Orders from everyone and ask for allergies – it would be your worst nightmare to find out on the day that some people are allergic to the food or that there is not enough Turkey for Christmas! (without pre-orders – chefs will select as a default option – usually vegetarian choice)
5) Inform attendees not to bring their own drinks – venues will charge corkage for bringing you own alcohol, it might be little embarrassing on the day! If you intend to bring your own alcohol – agree the corkage charge with the venue beforehand.
6) Dress code – if you expect a black tie dress – let everyone know. The last thing you want is to experience bitter disappointment because someone assumed that tracksuit is a fine attire for the Christmas party.
And the most important part… have fun!
Christmas parties are a great way bring people together in your company. This is especially important when it’s a large company with many departments and people simply don’t know each other. Just remember in case you forgot… one rule….no photos after 10 pm!