HR & Management

UK firms to pay £1bn for Christmas parties – but spend per employee varies

4 min read

01 December 2015

Former deputy editor

It's December, which means it's officially Christmas party season. As such, Eventbrite has found that British businesses will spend almost £1bn on festive corporate bashes, but the amount per employee varies greatly based on the region.

A study in November revealed that it’s quite common for Brits to snub colleagues when it comes to friend requests on Facebook.

That trend is probably only more likely to increase now that festive corporate parties will take place and the likelihood of becoming part of an office scandal grows.

Eventbrite has compiled a Christmas Party Index by surveying senior decision makers and has found the UK’s companies are set to spend £955m on staff entertainment throughout the festive period.

Indeed, some 72 per cent of firms plan on holding a party with an average spend of £42.48 per employee, which is up from just 40 per cent in 2009 following the recession.

Unsurprisingly, this spikes to more than £100 for 11 per cent of businesses in the capital, but falls to a more reasonable £39.44 in the East Midlands and £37.72 in Yorkshire.

But where was the least spent on employee entertainment? Northern Ireland, according to the results, with just £12.36 dished out per person.

Wondering how much your company will spend? The average spend per head by region is:

1. Greater London – £56.49
2. East Midlands – £39.44
3. Yorkshire – £37.72
4. South East – £36.98
5. North East – £33.44
6. South West – £32.64
7. North West – £31.78
8. Scotland – £31.58
9. West Midlands – £26.40
10. East of England – £26.12
11. Wales – £19.79
12. Northern Ireland – £12.36

However, for anyone planning to complain on the amount, they should think themselves lucky if their employer is paying – ten per cent of firms expect staff members to pay out of their own money.

The near £1bn spend will be racked up as staff members expect parties to be exciting experiences, complete with professional entertainers, dancers, themes, top notch grub and cocktails, which has resulted in 93 per cent of businesses planning to be inventive.

Indeed, just seven per cent of companies will host an office-based party, while 17 per cent will choose an exclusive external venue, the study found. 

With Daniel Craig currently starring in Spectre, it’s though James Bond will be a popular theme and so is Star Wars, with the latest in the franchise due for cinematic release before Christmas.

Read more on Christmas in the workplace:

Marino Fresch, head of marketing at Eventbrite, said: “Businesses are back in the party spirit and expectations are rising fast, as companies look set to lay on more exciting and experiential parties for staff this year. 55 per cent of businesses are aiming to boost staff morale by throwing a party that will get people talking and tweeting for months afterwards.

“With a party in the office feeling lacklustre, we’re seeing an increasing number of shared Christmas parties on Eventbrite trying to fill this gap in the market by offering a more exciting, yet cost-effective alternative.”

The report found that 12 per cent of UK companies hope to create networking opportunities among staff – spiking to 22 per cent in London – and 45 per cent are looking to lay on a feast alongside a drinking session, though 19 per cent will opt for a team lunch.

“The growing numbers of profit and not for profit companies of all shapes and sizes who are using our website shows just how important events have become as a tool for business. The rise in Christmas party spending, in particular, indicates how businesses see the party as an important event in its own right that will retain, reward and motivate their people,” added Fresch.

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