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Christmas on a budget: The office party


Christmas partyDon’t play Scrooge this year and cancel the Christmas party just because funds are tight. In the current economic climate, it is crucial to ensure staff feel valued and are motivated, says Penny de Valk.

At a time of financial uncertainty, managers may be considering cancelling their office or team Christmas party. However, this year it is more important than ever to invest in motivating and rewarding employees.

Holding a Christmas party may seem like a small gesture, but it goes a long way toward recognising the team’s achievements over the past year, showing them that their work is not being taken for granted and generally boosting morale.

It does not have to be a lavish function; there are lots of ways to hold a party on a budget, so here are a few tips:

  1. Have a ‘kids style’ Christmas party (and save yourself staff embarrassments as well as cash by banning alcohol for the afternoon) – bring in some sandwiches, crisps, cakes and jammy dodgers along with party games and maybe even have someone bring in their Nintendo Wii for an afternoon of fun and games. You can always move onto the pub for a few drinks later.
  2. Have an eco party – instead of asking people to cough up for secret Santa have a swap-shop (don’t just swap clothes – do books, CDs or any gifts you’ve received that you’d rather pass on to someone else), recycle scrap paper for decorations and use polystyrene for snow; add some bubble wrap and staff will be entertained for hours!
  3. Take some time out of the day to celebrate success – talk about what the team has achieved and share out a big box of chocolates. You can then take a trip out and visit some of your local tourist attractions. Spend as much or as little as you like and support local businesses.
  4. Use your office as the venue – festoon a meeting room or boardroom, order some buffet food from your local supermarket or café and – as a special twist – get managers to serve their teams. You can also buy drinks online for delivery direct to your door (companies such as Threshers are doing discount vouchers for online orders during the festive period).
  5. Book a function room at your local pub or bar – find a venue where they don’t charge regular customers for room hire and then negotiate a deal on the first 16 bottles of house wine. This will offer the team a change of scene and guarantee your local landlord a healthy bar spend.
  6. Remember that if you really do need to hire a venue, choosing a midweek date will reduce your hire costs as well as the food and drink prices.
  7. Hold a team lunch in a bring-your-own-booze restaurant and save yourself money on the alcohol spend.
  8. Go to and search according to your budget, number of guests and location to find Christmas party offers around the country from £16.50pp.
  9. Team up with other organisations in your building (or teams within your company) to share costs and finally talk to the people that you usually only say hello to in the lift.
  10. Manage your budget by going all inclusive – they’re often a little more expensive, but at least you’ll know what your bill will be at the end of the night.

Penny de Valk is chief executive of the Institute of Leadership & Management

  • Watch out for our new ‘HR on a budget’ series coming up in the new year!

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