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How to plan the perfect Christmas party

Written by Danni Rush on Thursday, 02 December 2021. Posted in HR, People

With the holiday season coming up, many of us will be nervously looking over our shoulders amid memories of the chaotic end to 2020 when the outbreak of the Kent variant scuppered our Christmas plans.

How to plan the perfect Christmas party

With the holiday season coming up, many of us will be nervously looking over our shoulders amid memories of the chaotic end to 2020 when the outbreak of the Kent variant scuppered our Christmas plans. 

However, this year the picture looks far different. The vaccine rollout has flipped the balance against COVID-19 in our favour and, as we approach this holiday period, the Government has repeatedly assured the public there will be no more restrictions imposed before 25th December. 

For businesses, this means their Christmas parties may go ahead as planned last year. The value of a Christmas party to company culture and employee wellbeing should not be taken lightly. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, employers have had few opportunities where they can get their employees together, recognise their achievements over the past 18-months and celebrate the business’s progress. 

But with so much riding on the success of the Christmas party, what steps can businesses take to make sure they hold a celebration their employees will enjoy and remember?

Involve your employees in the planning process

Depending on how large your business is, you might not have the opportunity to stay up to date with everyone’s likes and dislikes. This is when you should tap into your employee’s knowledge and bring a handful of them into the planning process, so you can create a Christmas party tailored to everyone’s interests.

Furthermore, forming a planning team for a work Christmas party is a wonderful way to show your employees that you value their opinion and believe their skills will be integral to the success of the annual celebration. 

Choose a theme for your Christmas party

Having a theme for your Christmas party costs your business nothing but can make a world of difference to the festive atmosphere. It also creates a talking point leading up to the party, generating pre-party buzz and engaging your employees as people plan their outfits, rides to the venue and coming together for the party.

Even better, selecting a theme can help feed into your recruitment plans. Once the night is over, you’ll have a bank of amazing photographs of your team decked out in a style that demonstrates the business’s fun and cohesive company culture. The best pictures can also be used in the wider company publicity such as social media and on your website. 

However, there is a balancing act when it comes to selecting the theme. It’s advisable to stay away from old cliches which have been done to death and if you’re struggling to decide, consider putting a vote out to your employees. 

Consider offering a late start the next day 

Many businesses understandably opt for a mid-week Christmas party to save money. However, if you do choose this option, then you’ll need to make some allowances for your people the next day. 

After many of last year’s Christmas parties were scrapped, your employees are likely to be itching to let their hair down and celebrate as a team for the first time in 18-months. Don’t expect everyone to turn up to work bright eyed the following day. And if you do choose to have a mid-week party, then your employees will certainly appreciate it if you offer a late start the following day or a company-wide ‘work from home’ day. 

Make contingency plans for restrictions

Although the Government has promised there will be no more restrictions before Christmas, we must remember that this pandemic has taught us anything can happen at any time. We were in a similar situation last year where the PM promised we’d all have a normal Christmas, only for those plans to be thrown into disarray. 

While the vaccine has made another lockdown unlikely, businesses must ensure they have a Plan B in place if the situation arises. One option available to businesses is sending out gift cards and vouchers to employees to demonstrate recognition of their work. 

While some businesses may opt for financial rewards in place of a Christmas party in the event of a lockdown, they should remember that gift cards and vouchers are not only a cheaper alternative to financial rewards, but they will also encourage bonding and support a company’s culture by creating shared memories amongst a team.

Christmas is such a special time of the year and, for businesses, it’s a perfect opportunity to thank employees for all their hard work. By involving your employees and engaging with them around a theme, you can demonstrate your appreciation and recognition for your employees while creating new memories and improving -employee retention. 

About the Author

Danni Rush

Danni Rush

Chief Customer Officer – Virgin Experience Days and Virgin Incentives

Danni leads customer experience, product development, partnerships and the people strategy for Virgin Experience Days and Virgin Incentives. 

Her career spans several industries including travel, retail and outdoor education. During her career she has developed a passion for team engagement, having seen the positive impact that a highly engaged and motivated team can have on business performance. 

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