Christmas parties: Are they still relevant for SMEs?

The Christmas party is a tradition as old as the hills: But how can you make sure you get value for money if you still decide to hold it?

The Christmas party is a tradition as old as the hills: But how can you make sure you get value for money if you still decide to hold it?

Christmas is one of those things which happens, to quote Ernest Hemingway, ‘gradually and then suddenly’.

One minute it’s September and you’re thinking to yourself that you really ought to get round to drawing up a few rough plans for the Christmas party before all the best venues get booked, and then you turn around and its December 1st, ,and you realise it’s going to be the same as last year.

It really doesn’t have to be that way. The trick is to realise that a successful Christmas party relies upon the details. Provided you’ve adhered to this edict, the chances are that you’ll arrive on the night (or day) of the party, confident in your ability to arrange a successful event which succeeds in its aims.

Why Arrange a Christmas Party?

The question of why you should bother to arrange a party in the first place is perfectly serious, and not merely to those of a more Scrooge-like temperament.

A survey carried out by the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM), which involved over 2,000 employees, found that a quarter of organisations had opted not to throw a Christmas party in 2015 (Source: ).

The response of the employees themselves to the survey, however, helped to underline the positive role which throwing a Christmas party can play in business terms. 26% of employees actually felt that a work Christmas party had positively impacted upon their career, whilst two thirds felt that it represented a valuable opportunity to get to know their colleagues.

Add to this the morale boosting effect of rewarding your staff for the previous 12 months hard work, and the chance which a party like this offers to network and cement your brand image with a host of clients, would be clients and suppliers, and it’s clear that a Christmas party, done properly, has the chance to be a hugely positive use of your resources.

Don’t Forget the Logistical Details

Amidst the excitement of planning the ‘fun’ aspects of a party, such as the theme, entertainment, dress code and catering, it can be easy to forget to concentrate on some of the more mundane logistical aspects upon which a night can stand or fall. Have you opted to lay on transport for your guests, for example?

If your venue is located in an out of the way spot this can ensure that everyone gets there on time and with the minimum of stress, whilst, at the end of the night, a quick exit can mean guests leaving on a high note.

The same principle applies to something as simple as supplying a cloakroom facility. Given the time of the year, most guests are going to be wearing heavy coats and will want to have somewhere secure to store them during the evening.

Utilising any facility provided by the venue, or bringing in professionals with experience of running a cloakroom, will ensure that this runs smoothly and doesn’t result in tired guests having to stand around waiting before they’re able to leave.   

Carry the Theme Through

Finding the right theme is vital in terms of both making your event memorable and ensuring it fits with the rest of your corporate branding. Making sure it packs the impact it’s capable of delivering will depend upon carrying it through every part of the event and evening.

The décor of the main room and the dress code may seem obvious, but try to ensure that the theme is also evident in areas such as the entrance, the cloakroom and even the restrooms. An integrated theme will deliver the full impact the event is able to offer.

Cut the Right Costs

If you need to keep costs down, look into aspects such as the night of the week on which you hire the venue, rather than cutting back on the touches which will make your event special.

The money spent hiring a celebrity guest to give the room a buzz, for example, may prove to be a better investment than picking up the bill for a sit down meal and free bar. Budgeting for the mundane logistical details which will help the night to run smoothly, even if they go largely unnoticed, represents the kind of spend which is often cut, with hugely negative results.

Don’t Rely on Goodwill

There may be many people within your business who are willing to volunteer to arrange and host the event, but don’t make the mistake of over-relying on this goodwill.

Volunteer helpers represent a valuable means of keeping costs down and thus concentrating resources, but you have to ensure that they are only utilised in the right areas.

If the venue doesn’t offer cleaning after the event, for example, then volunteers may well be the best answer to the problem of dealing with the mess your guests have made, but areas such as catering are almost always best left in the hands of professionals.

Don’t Let the End of the Night be the End of the Night

Maximise the impact of your party, particularly on guests such as clients and suppliers, by following up afterwards. Get in touch and ask if guests enjoyed the event and perhaps even offer them the chance to loom at photographs taken on the night. Completing the package in this way will maximise the impact in corporate and branding terms. 

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for from 2016 to 2018.