6 Insider Tips for Planning Your Office Christmas Party

The office Christmas party is always a date in the diary to get excited about. But what about planning it? Love it or loathe it, someone has to plan this fabled event. Whether you work for a small business with half a dozen employees or a larger company looking to entertain a few hundred, you still want a good old knees-up for everyone to enjoy. 

Seeing as Christmas is the season of goodwill, what better way to say “thank you” to all the hardworking staff than by giving them a chance to let their hair down a little? Recognition goes a long way to keeping your staff happy in the workplace, after all.

As one of the UK’s biggest Christmas party venues, we’re here to share our insider tips on how to plan an office Christmas party your staff will love. And how to manage it without getting your tinsel in a tangle! 

Tip 1: Start Planning Way Earlier Than You’d Expect

Although Christmas seems like a swear word if you dare utter it before December, an office Xmas party is the one time this doesn’t apply: the earlier you start planning, the better.  

At the National Conference Centre, we start receiving enquiries for our Christmas parties in July and August, just to give you an idea of how early we’re talking!

Yes, It may be the height of summer and you can’t even imagine the cold, frosty nights, but venues for work Christmas party nights book up alarmingly quickly. What we’ve found over the years is the more time you give yourself to prepare, the better the end result is. 

This is particularly true if you can’t be flexible with your dates. Some venues have set nights for parties and the popular ones sell out in a flash. So, if you only have 1 or 2 suitable dates, you definitely want to get yourself on the lookout early on. 

A piggy bank, calculator, Christmas tree and gifts on a white table

This Includes Planning Your Budget!

Budgeting, while not exciting, is essential for the success of your work Christmas party. A few questions to ask from the get-go:

  • Is the boss footing the bill?
  • Is it for employees only or are partners invited?
  • Are employees expected to contribute? If so, in what way?
  • How much can you afford to spend per person?
  • What are the priorities? For example, would you rather splash out on an open bar or some extravagant entertainment?

Chances are, you’ll have to make some decisions along the way on what’s most important. In this case, we suggest allocating the budget based on your company’s culture. Only you and your staff know what’s going to be the best for you all on the night!

Tip 2: Venues, Themes and Dress Code are More Important than You Realise

Blue, silver and white Christmas theme plate sitting on a grey wooden table

The venue, theme and dress code all combine together to set the tone for the night. Are you looking for something formal? Informal? Christmas cocktails while dressed to impress? 

You’ll need to decide on this from the beginning to ensure you plan the right night for your staff. Once you’ve made these decisions, you can style the invitations so your guests get a taste of what they can expect from the night itself. 

Next up – the styling! Decorations are pivotal in setting the theme of your event. A classic Christmas party wouldn’t be right without fake snow, twinkly lights, garlands and beautifully adorned Christmas trees. Of course, if you’re opting for a DIY event, you’ll need to invest in the initial outlay and have somewhere to store them for the rest of the year.

The other option is to book a venue that has all of these set up and ready for you. It takes the hassle out of setting up yourself. If you opt for a pre-set venue, find out what their theme is! You want something to dazzle your staff from the moment they arrive, after all. 

Tip 3: Food and Drink are Never More Important than at Christmas

Slices of chocolate cake for an office Christmas party pudding

Do you want food at your office Christmas party? If so, are you thinking a sit-down dinner? Or just nibbles and Christmas canapes? Christmas and food go hand in hand, just like gin and tonic, so this area is worth some serious consideration.

Navigating dietary requirements isn’t always easy, especially if you’re catering for a large number of people. For this reason alone, you want to sort the food out early. You either need plenty of time to plan a menu and source the ingredients or you’ll need to let your venue know. 

Larger venues will often have a pre-set menu and ask you to choose in advance. But fear not! These things have come a long way in recent years. Forget the sad-looking plates of dried-out turkey and rock-hard sprouts. At the National Conference Centre, we pride ourselves on having the best team of banqueting chefs, led by executive chef, Steve Price. 

With seasonal menus available, he’ll ensure your Christmas party food is a delectable delight, whatever your dietary requirements. 

A Real Christmas Quaffer

Just as important as the food are the Christmas drinks! Office Christmas parties are famed for their hilarious mulled wine-fuelled antics and stories being retold (and inevitably embellished) for years afterwards. 

A drinks package is a good way to encourage your staff to unwind and bond with their colleagues in a more relaxed setting. Downtime like this is shown to boost staff morale, which in turn improves their engagement with the company. It’s a win-win!  

This doesn’t mean you need to foot the bill for an open bar. But you might want to think about putting a few bottles on the tables. Our Winter Wonderland Party Nights, for example, include unlimited- 

  • House wine (red, white and rose) 
  • House draught lager
  • House bottled ale
  • Bottled cider
  • Soft drinks

Whether you’re a designated driver or looking forward to a drink or two, we’ll keep everyone well refreshed for the whole night. 

A woman sat at a table wrapping Christmas presents with a Christmas tree in the background

Tip 4: Explain the Gift Situation Early On

Gifts are another big part of the Christmas season. Is your office doing them? If so, what’s the budget? Is it a secret santa set up? Are you bringing them to the party? 

These are all questions you need to establish the answers to early on. 

Unclear gifting expectations can cause a huge amount of unnecessary stress for everyone involved. Make it crystal clear to your staff exactly what’s happening and what their role is. This way, nobody is left empty handed at the Christmas party. Believe me, we’ve seen a few awkward blunders from this exact scenario over the years. 

Tip 5: Music and Entertainment Make or Break the Party!

We’re all familiar with that DJ scene in Love Actually, the one where the wedding DJ spoils the Big Day with his terrible taste in tunes. Nothing is a bigger mood killer than a party without music to match the mood.  

A microphone set up on stage with Christmas trees in the background

If you’re planning your own party, make sure the playlist has something to please everyone. It’s worth putting some prep into this and asking staff to contribute their favourite songs and building up a playlist long enough to last the whole night. 

Alternatively, you could ease yourself the burden and opt for a pre-planned party! At the National Conference Centre, we host Christmas parties where everything is taken care of for you, including our resident DJ to keep your guests on the dance floor all night long. 

Tip 6: Don’t Underestimate the Finishing Touches

Finally, the finishing touches are something that elevates your office Christmas party immeasurably. There’s no doubt that a party is a great way to say thank you and wrap up the working year, but adding a personal touch shows you’re willing to go the extra mile as a company.

It might be something as simple as personalised thank you cards for each member of staff, or you may want to do something a little different. Staff awards ceremonies are always a great way to ensure every staff member is recognised for individual achievements. 

Office Christmas Parties at the National Conference Centre

We love Christmas at the National Conference Centre. We love it so much that we always strive to make this year’s Christmas festivities bigger and better than last year! 

It means we’ve got hosting parties down to a fine art. Let us take the stress of planning your work party off your shoulders! With food, drink, entertainment and decorations all taken care of, you simply need to turn up and have a jolly good time.

With 1,000 free onsite parking spaces, excellent transport links and our sister hotels a mere stone’s throw away, there really isn’t much for you to worry about. 

Get in touch with us today to secure your spot for an office Christmas party you’ll never forget.