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Office Christmas parties can be somewhat hit and miss. We’ve all had those years when the party just takes off to another level and becomes a momentous night, as well as the Christmases when it never really gets going. In the current, rather strained, financial climate many companies are looking to make savings and this often comes from events that are seen as extras – such as the Christmas party. However, this doesn’t have to mean the festive good times stop rolling, as there are plenty of ways to make sure that the office party this year is a memorable one.
Pick somewhere with atmosphere…
At any event, there’s really nothing worse than a venue that has the same atmosphere as a prison cell. No matter how much alcohol you ply guests with, if they feel self conscious, uncomfortable, cold, awkward or just generally as if they have walked into a wake, then there’s nothing that’s likely to get the party started. If you’re organising the event then go personally to the venues and see how you feel the minute you walk in – what you’re looking for is that light feeling and sense of anticipation that you get from somewhere that seems like a fun and exciting space.
…And somewhere easy to get to
People often make decisions such as whether or not to attend an office party depending on how little money they are going to have to spend, how much free stuff there is likely to be, and how easy it’s going to be to get home. If your chosen venue is not on any bus or train routes, requires a taxi to get there, or is more than an hour’s journey from the office then your attendance numbers are likely to drop. The ideal office Christmas party venue will be located a short walk from the office, with good transport links and taxi services nearby – that way most people will at least drop in for a drink.
Don’t skimp on the drink!
Employees often feel that the Christmas party is their reward for a year of hard work and achievements – which is what it should be – and as such they will equate the amount of resource that has gone into the event with the extent to which they are valued by their employer. Whilst no one is likely to expect a six course meal in a castle, complete with litres of French champagne and limos home, providing some tasty food (even if only finger food or a buffet), as well as a plentiful supply of some sort of alcohol, will keep even the most seasoned complainers happy.
Do arrange entertainment
Whilst it’s best to avoid the more clichéd entertainment – the wedding singer type performer, the magicians and the circus acts – some entertainment will provide a focus for attention and a great talking point should there be any awkward silences between guests who perhaps don’t know each other that well. Even if the entertainment doesn’t go down well, it will at least provide something for people to bond over in shared dislike! If you’re looking to pull out all the stops then hire a really good function band – something classy like a big band, or cool like an indie band – bring in a quality performance act and make sure you follow it up with a disco until late.
Lead by example
With office Christmas parties it often just takes a small group of people to get into the spirit of the event for it to really take off. If the room feels a bit subdued or everyone is looking like they’re waiting for someone else to start the dancing then take the lead and get the party started. Whilst you don’t have to be the really drunk person doing Dad dancing and trying to drag everything up to do the Conga, a little spontaneous fun can be really infectious.
Whilst office Christmas parties can be something of a minefield, really the formula for getting them right is pretty simple. With a little lively entertainment, a fun venue and the motivation to eat drink and be merry, most people will find it pretty easy to get into the Christmas spirit.
Amy is a freelance feature writer from the UK