10 tips for great Christmas events

So you’ve been asked to plan your team Christmas events. I know what you’re thinking… where do I start?!

You need it to be an event everyone will remember, but in a good way. No one needs a repeat of the bad buffet with the bad oysters that closed the business down for a month (and especially not this year). No pressure, right?

Never fear, we at Social Cooking have trawled through our mental filing cabinet to come up with our 10 top tips to make your Christmas events the best they can be!

Tip 1: Choose your Christmas events venue

This is a great place to start. What do your team want to do this year? A simple meal with drinks or a wholesale fiesta with all the bells and whistles? No matter what you choose, you need to choose something, and fast. Many of the best event companies and venues are booked months in advance for Christmas, so it pays to know what you want to do so you can shortlist some options.

Tip 2: Set the date

It might seem strange to make the date the second tip, but it’s good to have some flexibility around dates. Being firm on dates before you’ve chosen your venue can lead to sub-standard event, so having a couple of dates in mind can give the venue room to accommodate you and your team. Think about looking for dates outside of highly demanded Fridays – many venues offer cheaper rates for bookings earlier in the week or during the day instead of the evening.
And once you have your date set, make sure you let your team know so they can all be there!

Tip 3: Choose a theme

A theme can really bring a Christmas party to life! Costumes, decorations, even food and drink choices can all support a great theme, and make your Christmas events even more memorable. Think about international themes, sports events, celebrity imitations, etc. The internet is a fantastic source of inspiration… or keep an eye out here for more ideas!

Tip 4: The gift of Christmas event giving

Everyone loves presents, but giving to your team mates can be super tough! Here’s a few ideas to make Christmas giving in the workplace just a touch more straight forward:

  1. Lucky dip Secret Santa – generic gifts go into a basket to be drawn at random. No chance of anyone taking offence here!
  2. Worst present – guests vie to purchase the worst present.
  3. Cocktails for home – this gift is best bought by the company for the staff. Try The Cocktail Collective or Black Pineapple for delicious pre-packaged cocktail kits for your team to make at home.
  4. Give back – get your team to nominate a charity of their choice to donate to this Christmas. The company can donate a nominal sum on their behalf.
  5. The Re-Gift Off – everyone brings a gift they received this year that they don’t want (ideally not given by someone in the room!).
  6. A couple of rules to add. Remember to set a budget for gift giving, and set guidelines around what are appropriate gifts for your workplace.

Tip 5: Organise transport – both ways

When time is precious and roads are busy, having a good transportation plan is critical. Check Google Maps at peak times to work out how long it will take to get to your venue, and book transport in advance.

Discourage your team from driving. Although they may not plan to drink, it doesn’t take much to be over the limit! Besides, everyone being in a maxi van on the way to the party adds to the fun!

Remember to organise transport to get your team home again. No one wants to be stranded after a work Christmas party. Make your mantra “no person left behind”.

Tip 6: Remind the team about code of conduct

The days of outrageous, drunken, injurious Christmas events are over. These days many companies have behavioural guidelines to keep their staff safe. These guidelines should also apply to out of office events. One overly inebriated person behaving inappropriately can ruin the night for everyone. Remind your team in the days prior to your Christmas event what is expected of them. They need to have a good time, but not at the expense of others.

Tip 7: Always serve food at Christmas events

Food is fuel. It keeps energy levels up, and things under control. It also provides a lull in proceedings for people to relax and refuel before hitting the dance floor!
Think about what kinds of food fit with your event. Wait staff handing around canapes? A whole sale banquet complete with white table cloth? A barbecue buffet eaten on your knees? No matter what you choose, just make sure there’s enough to keep everyone satisfied. It’s always worth having too much rather than too little.

Ask your venue to keep some extra snacks on hand for later in the night, just in case.
If you come to Social Cooking, food is central to your Christmas event, with a meal created and served to everyone 🙂

Tip 8: Enough to drink but not too much

Alcohol can bring a party to life, but can also tear it down. Any bar worth their salt will cease supplying drinks to any intoxicated person. They are also required by law to have water freely available.

If you have concerns about the amount your team will drink, considered working with your venue to set a maximum number of drinks per person. You can use a voucher system for this.

You could also inject some fun by building compulsory water breaks into the night, where everyone drinks a glass of water together.

If you think someone has had too much, call them a taxi and send them home to dry out safely.

Tip 9: Thanks for the memories

It’s easy to forget to take photos of the night, and it makes the night more memorable when you and the team can trawl through the night’s shenanigans the next day.

At Social Cooking our staff take photos at all our Christmas events, sending them to you the next morning to share with your team. You can also have confidence that we won’t share anything online without your permission.

You could also consider:
  • Hiring a photographer to take photos for you.
  • Asking one of your team to step up and take snaps throughout the night
  • Hire a photo booth (with props) for everyone to take their own photos
  • Set up a red carpet and backdrop to encourage photos on entry
  • Create your own Snapchat filter, and share with the team prior to the event
  • Go old school and purchase disposable cameras!
  • Encourage your team to take photos, with prizes for the best shots.

Tip 10: What goes on tour, stays on tour

There will always be stories the next day. Some will breach company guidelines (see tip 6), but many won’t.

Those that don’t can often be a bit embarrassing to those involved, and sometimes troublesome on a personal or professional level. This is the time to be kind. Encourage a culture where people can have a laugh together, but not at some one else’s expense.

Having some discretion and understanding of others especially applies to social media. Think carefully about your company’s policies around online sharing. Our advice would be “what goes on tour, stays on tour”, which means NO SOCIAL MEDIA during the event.

If you find some great photos the next day, run them past your marketing team, and share responsibly. No one needs social embarrassment.