What do staff want at a work Christmas party?

Customisable business insurance
13 October 2023
3 minute read

Party-planning season is in full swing. So what do employees look for in a work Christmas party? And in a tough economic climate, what’s the best use of your budget?

We carried out a survey* to find out what people do and don’t enjoy about work Christmas parties.

What’s the best day for a Christmas party?

Our survey found that Friday evenings are by far the most popular time for a festive work event, with over 70% of respondents saying they prefer Friday night festivities to daytime events or parties held on another evening.

There’s a couple of good reasons to organise your celebration on a Friday. Many public transport systems have night services on weekends, making it easier for people to get home. And unless your staff work on Saturdays, you won’t see a post-party slump in productivity the next morning.

The downside of a Friday night? Venues often up their rates for popular days. So if you’re on a tight budget or want to get more for your money, a mid-week event could be the better option.

How do people like to celebrate?

For many businesses, Christmas parties are an opportunity to get everyone together and celebrate the team’s hard work throughout the year. But you can still do this on a budget, as low-key celebrations can go down just as well as extravagant events – if not better.

According to our survey, team dinners are the most popular kind of festive event. They out-ranked pub crawls, trips abroad and large company-wide events.

It’s also worth remembering that annual social events are tax deductible for limited companies, as long as they cost no more than £150 per head. This £150 limit can be spread across multiple parties, so a smaller celebration leaves room for another annual event such as a summer barbecue.

Who should be invited to a Christmas party?

One of the biggest dilemmas faced by company party planners is who to invite. We found that team-only celebrations are almost twice as popular as company-wide events.

But to be exempt from taxes, your Christmas party needs to be open to all of your employees. HMRC allows separate parties for different departments, as long as everyone can attend one of them.

And what about extra guests? While 30.1% of people prefer to have plus ones, only 10.2% want the whole family to be invited.

If you're considering inviting guests, remember to include them when calculating how much the party costs per person. You can claim an extra £150 per head for a plus one for each employee – but only if they're a partner or family member.

Should alcohol be served?

Around 60% of people like their drinks to be free-flowing, while 35% think the amount of alcohol should be limited. Almost 5% of people don’t think alcohol should be served at all, and it’s important to have plenty of options for those who don’t drink.

But we also found that one in five people are unsure about behavioural expectations at their work Christmas parties. So whatever your company’s stance on alcohol, it could be worth sending out a gentle reminder about behaving responsibly.

Does business insurance cover Christmas parties?

Lost phones, a fall on the dance floor, an allergic reaction to the not-so-nut-free canapés – Christmas parties come with certain risks, so it's important to think about whether you and your staff would be protected if something were to go wrong.

If you have business equipment insurance, you may be able to claim for items that get lost or damaged at your festive event. Other incidents could be covered by the venue’s business insurance – so it's a good idea to check that they’re properly insured before making your booking.

*The survey was conducted on a representative sample of 500 people in the UK by consumer research provider Attest on behalf of Superscript on 8 December 2022.

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This content has been created for general information purposes and should not be taken as formal advice. Read our full disclaimer.

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