7 tips for throwing the ultimate work Christmas party

Staff enjoying Christmas party

Premium party planner, and IoD NorthWest member, Liz Taylor offers her essential advice for staging a memorable end-of-year event, to suit a range of budgets.

Liz Taylor certainly knows how to throw a party. She was the star of Channel 4’s The Millionaire Party Planner and has organised functions for clients from Manchester United to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. If you are planning to celebrate the festive season with staff or clients, here are Taylor’s 7 essential Christmas party tips…

1 See it as a staff reward

“Even in these tough economic times, businesses are still keen to recognise their staff and clients, so having a great venue, quality food and a free bar – or even tokens for drinks – are still crucial. When businesses can’t offer pay rises or bonuses, the Christmas event is seen as an ideal setting to thank, reward and motivate staff… We are seeing more immersive events, as participation breaks down barriers between staff and management. However, the overall feel is to invest well but not too lavishly.”

2 Carefully consider the venue…

“Do choose the right venue. Think about what works best for your team. Will they be impressed by the hippest venue in town? Or worried about how they find the place and get home afterwards? Whatever you decide, organise a free bar or drinks tokens, as well as the best entertainment you can afford.”

3 Consider combining events

“One of the biggest changes I’ve seen in recent years is companies combining events to manage their costs better. Instead of three events per year, they’ve scaled down to two, with the Christmas party often doubling up as the annual staff party.”

4 Go micro – it can be just as impressive

“Events are getting smaller. Chief executives are opting for two small cocktail parties each year rather than one large sit-down party. The smaller events can be less formal, and the catering can make the best of simple canapé ingredients.”

5 Don’t forget the entertainment

“Never scrimp on the entertainment. It’s at the heart of a great party and guests will talk about a fabulous DJ or amazing party band for weeks.”

6 Drink sensibly

“Serving a complimentary bar is often an expectation, but you don’t want things getting out of hand. We suggest the company provides wine, beers and soft drinks on their account, with the staff only paying should they choose to drink spirits. Most guests are mindful their bosses are in attendance, so we have very few issues when it’s handled this way.”

7 Act like the boss should

“As a boss myself, I try and make sure my staff aren’t intimidated by my presence. I love celebrating with them, but take my leave early so they can let their hair down! I have witnessed incidents where both employer and employee have flirted with each other, which spells disaster, and where the boss has sat in a corner looking unapproachable and distanced from the crowd. Mix, mingle, don’t drink alcohol, chat to all staff and say goodnight early. They will love the fact you paid them attention and respect the fact you left them to party!”


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