HR & Management

Why you need a company Christmas party

10 min read

27 November 2013

With the countdown to Christmas in full swing, it means we’re also closing in on party season. Workplaces up and down the country will be preparing to don paper hats and drink copious amounts at the work Christmas do. But as fun as that sounds, it’s a prospect that can fill some bosses with dread, so much so that some companies don’t bother with it at all.

But the Christmas party should not be something to fear or put off until the last minute, it should be embraced and approached with excitement. This is more than just an excuse to get all your colleagues sozzled for the night, it can play a big part in shaping the entire culture of your company.

Unsurprisingly, as an events company, parties play a big part in life here at Chillisauce. And you won’t find us just stocking up on cheap booze and dancing to Shakin Stevens around the photocopier. We approach our company celebrations with the same professionalism we do when planning bespoke events for any of our blue chip clients. While that may sound excessive, it’s something we think really helps to keep our team together. So, while some of you may still be scratching your heads over what to do, or toying with the idea of knocking the festivities on the head this year, I wanted to give you an insight into how a workplace staffed with professional party planners goes about organising this all-important annual bash.

The importance of the Christmas party

First off, get out of the mindset that this is ‘just the Christmas party’. It’s something that many staff will talk about for weeks before and for weeks afterwards. It can play a big part in shaping how your business is viewed by its employees and can affect how people feel about their overall experience of working there. First and foremost, you should think of the festivities as a ‘thank-you’ to your staff. This is your chance to show your gratitude for 12 months of hard work from your dedicated employees.

Company culture doesn’t just happen, it is something that is earned. Happy staff are productive staff, so even if your company is the sort that needs to retain a prim and proper image, it doesn’t mean employees can’t enjoy themselves inside and outside of work. Some of the biggest brands on the planet aren’t just big on the basis of the products they offer, many are also known as great places to work. The Google’s and the Nike’s of this world are renowned for their happy company cultures but they aren’t automatically ‘cool’ places to work by virtue of their ‘cool’ brand alone. 

They put time and effort into making staff feel wanted, appreciated and ensuring that they enjoy themselves along the way. Free breakfasts, pool tables, mediation rooms, even the slide in the office, all these things are investments of time and money that pay dividends through the productivity and loyalty of their staff. They have the same attitude to company events too, the Christmas party included, as we know of some simply awesome celebrations they have put on for their staff.

Can you afford not to have one?

With many businesses looking to cut costs in the wake of the financial crisis, it is little surprise that parties are one of the first things to go, being seen as an extravagance that we can do without. But you still need to invest in your staff to keep a business running successfully and Christmas is the one time of year where a staff party is pretty much expected. It can prove to be a fantastic bonding experience and one of the only times that you may get members of teams from different departments socialising with each other. From interns to company directors, it’s a chance for everyone to relax and mingle and it is at events like these where company loyalty is built. Treat your staff well now and they are the ones who will help your business flourish.

When should you start planning?

No matter how organised you think you are, there’s always someone else out there who is one step ahead. There are companies that start planning as early as February for their festive celebrations, or sometimes even when the tinsel is still up after their last Christmas bash. Not everybody needs to plan quite this far ahead, but it’s not something that you should be leaving until the last minute.

Leaving it late is, of course, what many of us do. I’m sure plenty of you reading this may not even have got started yet, despite there being less than a month of work left before the holidays. I don’t want to panic you, but you really do gain a lot from planning ahead. Last minute deals aren’t quite as common as you might hope, so the real way to make financial savings is to book as early as possible, you’ve got more scope for negotiating as venues and planners want to get their bookings in early, and you can take advantage of early booking deals. Plus, you’ll have much more choice as to where you go and what you do. And, as with organising events of any size, giving yourself plenty of time to get everything you needed in place will seriously reduce the amount of stress involved.

How to make the most of your own Christmas party

Of course, not everyone has the in-house resources of an events company to plan their celebrations. But that doesn’t mean you can’t add plenty of flair to your own Christmas party. If you want some detailed advice, here is a comprehensive checklist to help you plan your party from beginning to end, through the eyes of a professional events planner. And if budgets allow you can even hand the task over to an event planning company to take care of all the nitty gritty.

But even if you are bringing in professional help, you’ll still want somebody from the company overseeing it all to ensure it is on the right fit for your workplace and to check that everything is running smoothly.

It doesn’t have to be ‘the boss’ taking responsibility for this annual task either. Think about people within your organisation who would be best suited to this role and, better still, those who might enjoy doing it. We take it in turns at Chillisauce, with people from different departments taking on the fun-filled task of arranging our regular work socials. So, if the idea of further filling up your to-do list with party planning puts you off, then try finding out if any of your staff would like to take on the challenge.

And while grand ideas of lavish parties, themed events, entertainment and free booze might all sound great, even if you really don’t have the budget to pay for much, it doesn’t mean your team should miss out entirely. Something as simple as arranging drinks in a local Christmassy pub is still a great way to get everyone together to toast the festive season.

Get into the spirit of things

Once you’ve made the decision to go ahead with Christmas celebrations for your workplace, you might as well make the most of it. No matter the budget or scale of your party, without wanting to sound too ‘Hollywood schmaltzy’, one of the key ingredients here is Christmas spirit. If you’re going to do it, do it properly, and that means entering into the spirit of the season with enthusiasm. This involves making the effort to attend, doing your best to talk to as many colleagues as possible, lending a hand wherever you can – and, whatever you do, don’t shy away from the fancy dress theme. Christmas is the best excuse we ever get for a party, so make sure you make the most of it. It’s a simple touch that your workforce will really appreciate.

Michael Chidzey is the Head of Digital Marketing and PR at Chillisauce.co.uk