Keeping the festive spirit alive in the workplace – How to create the perfect office Christmas party


Keeping the festive spirit alive in the workplace – How to create the perfect office Christmas party

As the festive season looms ever closer, employers across the UK will be thinking about putting on a Christmas party in order to reward staff for their efforts in 2016 – or at least they should be!

A recent survey conducted by DBI Furniture Solutions revealed that one in three people in the UK naturally expect their employers to organise a Christmas party.

What was once viewed as a bonus or “nice-to-have” has quickly manifested into something that a lot of workers now demand.

Hosting a festive get-together can have clear business benefits. Not only does it encourage your teams to interact with each other, it can also act as an effective stress-buster.

Results from the recent British Social Attitudes survey showed that we’re more stressed than in recent years, with 37% of respondents reporting feelings of stress “always” or “often”, compared with 28% in 1989.

Managing Director of DBI Furniture Solutions, Nick Pollitt, commented on the stresses of Christmas and what employers can do to help.

“Christmas is stressful for many of us, and it’s easy to bring this tension into the workplace. Many of us look forward to the Christmas party where we can let our hair down.

“This is an opportunity for employers to say thank you for their staff’s hard work and is also a fantastic chance for employees to socialise with each other, build connections and forging new friendships in the workplace.”

Christmas is about giving – employers, get in the spirit!

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We spoke to Stan McLeod, CEO of corporate event organisers Headliner, who explained why Christmas parties can benefit everyone.

“Everyone gets excited at the idea of a party, and the office Christmas party is part of our culture, so it is important that some sort of celebration is in order. Smaller companies might find it harder to throw a full-on party, but even then there’s lots of options.

“It’s always great to get to know your colleagues outside the four walls of an office. Not only does it make collaborative work in the office more efficient, we find it breaks down any barriers between different departments as well.

“This means that everyone is comfortable pitching new ideas and taking on new projects – it’s beneficial for the company as a whole.”

Nobody wants to be a Scrooge 

The work Christmas party has become an annual tradition, so much so that any manager neglecting to organise something is almost immediately outed as a ‘Scrooge’.

Lorraine Bow, Fun Facilitator at Musivate, commented on the repercussions of a Christmas without a party.

“An office manager who doesn’t organise a party for their staff is seen as a miserly Scrooge. What’s more, they’ll miss out on a brilliant chance to bring people together, and a happy workforce is a productive workforce.”

Remember that you don’t need to host an expensive bacchanal – moderation is key where both money and alcohol are concerned – but with a few simple measures you can host a Christmas party to remember. Take note of the following…

1. Try to make sure people don’t overdo it

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You don’t want to be accused of being the ‘Fun Police’, but it’s important that some guidelines are put into place before the night begins. It’s the employer’s responsibility to keep an eye on employees – even if the party takes place outside of the office, the location is merely an extension of the workplace.

For this reason, it’s in the employer’s best interest (not forgetting the staff, too) that some arrangements are put in place. A hungover office is not a productive one! Even if you stage your shin-dig at the weekend, you still run the risk of having some excruciatingly awkward conversations to deal with on the Monday morning.

Here’s how you can get around it…

  • Coupons

Giving your staff a certain number of drink coupons will reward them with free beverages, but you can monitor it a little better. It’s also a good idea to make sure plenty of soft drinks are available (whether that’s for non-drinkers or for that end-of-the-night sobering effect).

  • Designated driver

This one is great for those who don’t drink, and can ensure that colleagues get home safe. This isn’t to say that you can’t have any fun if you’re driving, however. In the name of fairness, if you’re driving one night then you should have a night off for the next party.

  • Social media

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Alcohol and smartphones can be a disastrous combination. We post on social media so much when we’re sober, but if you’re inebriated then you have less control over the content you put online. Inappropriate pictures of co-workers, managers even? This can land you in hot water, as well as your colleagues (especially if they’re posting from a business account). Set out some ground rules right at the start!

We spoke to John Larsen, Director of Evidence and Impact at alcohol education charity Drinkaware, who highlighted some of the issues surrounding alcohol at Christmas parties.

“The festive season is a time to socialise with colleagues, but many of us may end up drinking more than we intended to, which can put us in embarrassing and even dangerous situations.

“Alcohol lowers inhibitions, making us more confident and less anxious, which can make you accidentally say or do something that you regret.

“Alcohol also upsets our sense of balance and co-ordination, slows down our reactions and impairs our vision and hearing, making us more prone to falls and more serious accidents.”

Measures put in place by the employer can prevent such things from happening. It’s vital that employees take care – things can get very messy if something goes wrong.

2.The next day…

It can’t be helped if a Christmas party takes place midweek – all this means is that you must be in a sound, sober state of mind to come into work the morning after.

Here are a few things you can do to prevent a collective sore head, sickness and rock-bottom productivity levels…

  • Goodie bags

Providing recovery packages is great for ensuring that your staff come in well the next day. Tim Stevens, Managing Director of event organisers Best Parties Ever, commented:

“We have our own ways of trying to make sure that the effects of Christmas events aren’t felt too strongly the following day. At midnight, we supply a hearty Survivors’ Breakfast to help soak up some of the bubbles.

“We also enjoy putting together an ‘emergency rations’ goodie bag which we give out to guests – these usually contain well-tested hangover cures such as Red Bull, a water bottle, a sachet of Beechams Resolve, a fruit tonic/elixir, blister plasters, a chocolate bar, Berocca, and a sachet of coffee.”

3. Pick an accessible venue

You should make sure that your employees can make it to the party – it shouldn’t have to feel like a commute to get there. It’s a good gesture to make sure that transport is arranged – the less your staff worry, the more they’ll enjoy it.

Kicking things off in the familiar surrounds of your office, before moving elsewhere, can ensure that your employees spend at least some time together on the day. Everybody has different commitments and there will be some who simply cannot attend. Set up a poll that enables people to pick a number of days in which they are available. This will allow you to pick a night when the majority of your team are available.

Also, pick out a few venues and activities, and put them to a vote. You might set up a party with the best intentions, but have you actually asked your staff what they’d like to do? Again, this approach can help to swell attendance figures.

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Lyndsay Carling
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