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Planning the office Christmas party

Rhian Morgan

Christmas is sneaking up on us, so why not make your employees happy and plan the prefect party. Rhian Morgan talks to top party planner Ofer Yatziv on his top seven tips to make every office rock out 2015 in style – without breaking the budget for 2016

Yes, it’s time to deck the halls with holly, hullabaloo and the hard stuff if you want to make your minions merry. But don’t leave it to your staff if you want a shindig that’s within budget. Ofer Yatziv is on hand to help. The marketing manager for Better Venues has managed and produced events for 15 years and has a wealth of experience to share. His clients have included Hilton Hotels, Sky Sports, and the London Sketch Comedy Festival.

He tells me: “Staff and management can have conflicting priorities when it comes to planning the office party. From the employees’ point of view, the more grandiose the plans the better. Week-long parties in Vegas and extortionately expensive soirées in some of the UK’s most exclusive nightspots should all be considered. After all, they’ve been working hard all year!”

So Ofer suggests a middle ground that involves being more budget conscious. Here are his seven sage recommendations:

Start early

Some of the best (and most affordable) venues will already have been snapped up, so you really need to act now.

Set your budget and stick to it

A small budget does not necessarily mean a bad party. If you have a small business, for example, employees understand that you will not have a colossal Christmas party budget, and will be happy to temper their expectations. To save money, why not have a few pre-party drinks in the office break-out room? Every company has its social organisers, so why not assign a couple of staff members to organise the Christmas party on your behalf? They will canvass the opinions of employees and work out how to spend a limited budget in the best possible way.

Consider a ‘joiner’ party

If you have a limited budget or a relatively small number of guests, a ‘joiner’ party, where different companies spend the night in the same venue, can create an excellent atmosphere while saving a few pennies. 

Visit the venue beforehand

This is the perfect job for your office party organising committee. Allow your best organisers an hour or two away from the office to visit the venue to iron out any potential problems. They should check out the location to make sure it’s accessible by public transport; have a closer look at the venue’s size and capacity; and check the facilities for everything you’re going to need.  

Don’t pay for things you don’t need

Most venues will be willing to negotiate on price and allow some flexibility to secure your business. Look for a venue that’s willing to tailor their package around your needs, rather than enforcing a number of Christmas party elements you really don’t need. You should also get a couple of quotes before you agree to a venue, as this will put you in a position of strength before you start your negotiations.  

Test the menu

Some venues use their Christmas party menu as an opportunity to wheel out their highest margin meals, often to the detriment of you and your taste buds. Before you sign on the dotted line, taste test the menu to make sure the food you’re paying for is up to the job.

Have a theme

Themed Christmas parties might be your idea of hell but a little fancy dress can inject some additional excitement into the evening and help everyone get into the spirit of things. If the thought of digging out that offensive donkey costume pains you, console yourself with the thought that this is the only time you’ll have to wear it this year. 

So there you go: your accountants can breathe easy, while your staff can have a knees-up. But what’s my top tip? Always remember, you’re the boss. So mingle, make merry, but never let things get messy. Limit yourself to two drinks maximum, then stick to the club soda. Otherwise, you might find your staff will have had a good time at your expense when you show up red-faced for Monday’s meeting.

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