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Planning An Office Christmas Party: The Budget Breakdown and Biggest Expenses

A holiday event is a great occasion to unwind and celebrate, as well as strengthen the relationships between colleagues and boost morale. But with rising costs, planning an office Christmas party may seem overwhelming as you need to carefully monitor the expenses. In this guide, we will help you make budgetary decisions and ensure that every penny is well spent.

Setting A Budget

Clearly setting a limit for each category and sticking to it is the first step to successfully hosting any social event. You can use free money management apps such as Emma, HyperJar, Snoop or Plum to keep track of your resources. Alternatively, a basic spreadsheet can assist you in visualising where the money is allocated.

By having a clear understanding of your finances, you’ll be able to identify which category necessitates a bit more spending and which one can be reduced.

Beware of hidden event planning costs such as amenities, audiovisual, service charges, taxes, and walk-in’s or additional attendees.

Office Christmas Party On A Budget - Setting A Budget

According to a 2022 research by Togather, a holiday party usually costs around £70~150 per person depending on the size and the budget of the business. This includes decorations, venue, F&B, which we’ll discuss in more details below.

In fact, to qualify for tax relief on your yearly gathering, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have outlined three conditions:

  • The event must be accessible to all staff members
  • Be annual, such as a Christmas party or summer barbecue
  • Cost £150 or less per employee

The Budget Breakdown

Planning An Office Christmas Party Budget Breakdown

As each event is unique, the budget allocation can vary greatly depending on the company. Nonetheless, the following serves as a sample breakdown for how much to allocate toward each category; 

  • Food & Beverage: 33~36%
  • Venue: 20%
  • Audiovisual (AV): 15%
  • Speakers/Entertainment: 12~15%
  • Decorations: 10%
  • Marketing/Promotion: 7%

Convene’s Annual Market Survey suggested that around 55% of your budget should be spent together on the F&B, AV, and speakers/entertainment, as these have tremendous influence on the employee’s experience at the event.

The Most Common Expenses & How To Cut Costs

1. The Holiday Party Venue

Finding the right venue at an affordable price may seem like a tall task. Fortunately, many bowling alleys, pubs, nightclubs and restaurants offer Christmas party packages at competitive prices. These packages often come with a set menu, drinks, and good atmosphere to chill out and have fun. 

Planning An Office Christmas Party The Holiday Party Venue

It’s a great way for everyone to grab a pint, talk about their Christmas plans, New Year’s resolutions and enjoy a change of scenery without worrying about the noise or post-party cleanup. Find more party packages that cost from £45 per person in various locations across the UK on Christmas Parties Unlimited, Christmas Venues, or Village Hotels.

For venues with no special offers or discounts, there’s no harm in trying to use your negotiation skills rather than settle for the first price offered. If it works, you can secure a deal better than expected, and in turn cut down party costs.

Alternatively, you can host the Christmas party right at your workplace. With the right decorations, the office can turn into a winter wonderland but is much more budget-friendly than renting a separate venue.

2. The Decorations

If you party off-site, the venue will most likely take care of all the decorations. However, if your event occurs at the business premise, you can either book professional office decoration services such as The Christmas Decorators, Essentially Christmas Decorating, TaskRabbit, or Events by Knight; buy or craft the decorations with your colleagues.

Items such as hanging swirls, stickers, string lights, and small holiday trees are cheap, only from £3~5 per item – but very effective in adding a touch of warmth to the workspace.

On the other hand, DIY Christmas décor is not only cost-effective, but also serves as a team-building exercise. Rather than simply purchasing decorations, consider setting up a DIY station filled with supplies and everything needed to create various festive ornaments such as bunting, paper garlands, post-it note Christmas trees, tin can lanterns, wreaths, and creative wall art. Invite everyone to take an hour or so to participate in the activity, and you’ll be delighted with how the holiday spirit fills the office.

Planning An Office Christmas Party Office Christmas Decorations

3. The Entertainment

What would a Christmas party be without some great games? From Secret Santa, White Elephant Gift Exchange, Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Reindeer, to Christmas quizzes, there isn’t a shortage of entertainment to keep the crowd excited. Shop your Christmas games at Etsy, Amazon or Party Packs.

Free downloadable games are available on the Internet and can be customised for your team. You can find more office Christmas party games inspirations at TagVenue and Hometainment.

Christmas Office Games
Christmas Office Games

While silly awards can be entertaining, serious ones provide a great platform to show appreciation and uplift spirits in the workplace. To ensure everyone feels included in the event, you can ask for their inputs regarding the activities and party planning.

4. The Feasting

The most obvious option that comes to mind is to find your local catering service and ask for their exclusive Christmas package offer. It’s a good way to support local businesses, and they can help take care of the food preparation, service, and clean up. You’ll have one less thing to worry about so you can focus on other aspects of the holiday event.

While good food and drink is an indispensable part of any good party, you can cut costs by organising a potluck party where guests can contribute their favourite buffet bite-sized dishes such as potato salad, fried chicken, nuts, crisps, or sweet treats. A cookie exchange or BYOB (bring your own bottle) are also good ideas.

Make sure to stock up on a selection of non-alcoholic drinks in addition to alcoholic beverages and plenty of plastic cups. Consider swapping out the booze for some hot chocolate to further reduce the expenses.

Christmas Potluck Party

Planning an office Christmas party can be a tall task, especially if you have a strict budget to follow. Hopefully with these ideas, you’ll have a wonderful time and create great memories with your colleagues.

Whether you need temporary space to host a holiday event, or long-term storage, Cube Self Storage can offer secure and affordable storage solutions. For more information about our special offers, please give us a call at 0800 027 2668

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