If it looks like planning the work Christmas party in has fallen to you, then we know that the challenge is to find a great venue, amazing entertainment and deliver it all in budget – whilst trying to keep everyone happy AND do your day job too – it’s a tall order!
Whilst we probably can’t help with the ‘keeping everyone happy’ bit (how do you plan an 80s-themed go-karting party with a Christmas banquet anyway?!), we’ve put our heads together to come up with a few ideas to hopefully make your life easier. Our big tip is - just don’t do it too well or you’ll be asked again next year!
- If you’re still looking for a venue, don’t despair. We can check availability at over 70 venues for you in Cambridge and the surrounding areas with a single enquiry – it takes the leg work out of spending hours on the phone calling every venue.
- If you can be flexible, you’ll have more choice. Fridays and Saturdays in December tend to get booked up at least a year in advance so if you opt for a weekday evening or a lunchtime you should have more options to consider.
- Have a good idea of any special dietary requirements in advance so that when you’re looking at venues, you can ask the catering question to ensure that all allergen, religious and cultural needs are covered.
- If the venue offers various menu options, you’ll probably have to collect everyone’s meal choices in advance. Set up a spreadsheet to keep a record to send to the venue. Make your life easier by giving colleagues a deadline to reply by!
- Remember, the VAT incurred on the cost of a Christmas party for staff is recoverable but beware, this doesn’t include partners of existing staff or former employees.
- Drinks can be a tricky one. Speak to the venue about pre-ordering a selection to save time (and indecision) on the night and remember to offer drivers and those who don’t drink alcohol a good selection of soft drinks so they don’t feel left out! If you don’t want to offer drinks all night at the table, you could give everyone a voucher (in agreement with the venue) so they can get a free drink at the bar or put it towards the value of a drink of their choice.
- A Christmas celebration doesn’t have to be a formal sit down, blow-the-budget banquet. Festive afternoon teas, drinks receptions or just a round of cocktails and some nibbles are cost-effective alternatives that won’t necessarily break the bank.
- Think about transport and how guests will arrive and leave. Does the venue have parking and if not will you offer transport? If the venue has accommodation you may be able to secure good rates for your guests so that they can make a night of it.
- If you really don’t want to get involved with the nitty gritty of decorating the venue and finding entertainment and so on, consider taking some tables at a shared party night where it will all be done for you. There are some great themed party nights taking place across the city this year. For example, you could choose from a Danish Hygge-themed event, a Hollywood/Oscars Party Night or perhaps a Masquerade Ball? Remember though, not everyone wants to boogie on down so make sure there are other entertainment options available; casino tables, photo booths and maybe guided wine tasting could be great ‘quiet’ options.
- Finally, remember to rope in some colleagues to share the load for any tasks that might need doing at the event. That way you can enjoy the celebrations too – by then you’ll have definitely earned it!