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Planning The Best Work Christmas Party (and what to avoid)

The work Christmas party is one of the biggest events of the year, so the pressure is on for the organiser. I’ve been lucky enough to run some amazing ones and go to some not-so. Here’s my top tips for making sure yours is a success!


·      Understand your audience – you might think doing karaoke all night is the best thing ever, but for some it is their worst nightmare. Ask your team what they would like to do and get the general vibe and plan from there

·      Location is really important as it has to be accessible for everyone. There may be some really cool basement club in the middle of nowhere but people won’t appreciate having to travel miles and it might lead to them leaving early or not bother going at all so make the location good but easy to get to

·      Have food there. Now you can’t help people that drink too much at a Christmas do – it’s sort of expected – however, you can pre-empt the severity by putting food on. Also, there are people that don’t drink or don’t want to drink and it’s a long time without anything to eat so cater well

·      Try to avoid an open bar if you can as people tend to decide to drink things they never drink; think shots are their friend and then you’re left with utter carnage

·      Think of the atmosphere; what are you going for and what music, lighting and ambience are you after. The venue may well dictate this but if you are creating your event from a blank canvas, think about how you want to bring it to life and always remember your audience.

·      Activities are good. Christmas parties are yes, about having a good giggle and drink, but they’re a good opportunity to mix people up and doing activities is a great way of doing this. So, host a quiz, a game – and mix the teams up so people who aren’t in the same department or level get to know each other more

·      Try and stand rather than sit. When you host a seated event, often the people only mingle with those they’re sat next to. Try and have standing so it feels less formal and people can mix

·      Create talking points so have a magician or some sort of entertainment that people can focus on and enjoy together

·      Be creative with your drinks. Rather than the box-standard, have a think how you could make it more interesting. Could you name drinks after a staff member or a project, could you find out people’s favourite drinks? More personable the better

·      Have a reasonable cut-off point so the party is contained and people know when it’s ending and, most importantly, when your responsibility ends. If they want to go on somewhere else, that’s their decision and their responsible for themselves. 

·      Try and enjoy it! Even though you’ve organised it, remember it’s your party too so do all you can beforehand so there’s limited things to do on the actual day 

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Shaun Johnson