For many companies, the recession put a dampener on the traditional Christmas party. Budgets cuts made it impossible, or it just didn’t feel appropriate while times were tough. In just three years, the number of UK office parties fell by a staggering 42%.
But this year, it’s different. Christmas is back – and in a big way. Companies want to show staff and clients how much they’re appreciated; to reward loyalty, bolster morale and build team spirit… and they’re realising it needn’t take a huge budget to bring some much-needed Christmas sparkle to the end of a hard-working year.
Budgets still tight? Don’t panic…
What matters in a Christmas party isn’t how much you spend: it’s the little details that make it memorable and fun. Sometimes, the fact that you’ve thought about people as individuals – rather than just booking a big, identikit event – is the very thing that makes your guests feel valued.
We’ve been organising Christmas events on tight budgets for years – and here are our top tips to make yours truly magical (without breaking the bank):
1. Pick a theme (early)
People appreciate time and effort – so if you’re going to have a fun theme for your event, make sure you choose it in time to use it right from the invitations onwards, to influence every aspect of their experience.
2. Make it personal
Thinking about your guests individually is the key to making them feel special. For example, if it’s appropriate, you might ask colleagues for anecdotes from throughout the year, and use them in a quiz, or to choose amusing gifts.
3. Think about families
If many of your people have young children, then a daytime, family-focused event is often a great, inexpensive way to multiply the fun and build a real sense of community. Others might relish the chance to escape from the little ones for a night – so it’s important to know your guests.
4. Choose an unusual venue
Not only does a break from the standard party venue create an extra sense of excitement or surprise, but you’re also more likely to be able to bring in an external caterer, rather than booking a package deal. Arranging food and drink separately gives you the opportunity to make savings on the biggest single element in any event budget.
5. Make it a Monday
Here’s a great insider tip: venue prices are often incredibly low on Mondays. Booking your party for the start of a week means you might be able to afford that spectacular venue that would have been way out of reach at a weekend – and your staff will simply think it’s novel and fun (especially if you let them start late on Tuesday…)
6. Agencies pay for themselves
OK, we would say this, but… events companies who make bookings on a regular basis throughout the year can often command preferential rates with venues, caterers and other key suppliers. More often than not, using an agency works out cheaper than booking direct.
7. Ask the team!
Collect suggestions, ideas and feedback, and generally do what you can to involve your people in the whole process. You’ll have a much clearer idea of what they actually want and enjoy, but more important still, they’ll feel a sense of ownership, and know how much they’re valued.
If organising your Christmas event is proving to be a headache, we’d love to help (see point 6). Give Denise Sharpe a (jingle) bell at 0208 995 9495 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.