Want to arrange a cracking festive bash? Tay's Beckie Hoy tells us how it's done
By Beckie Hoy
Are you tasked with arranging the office Christmas do? As Tay’s assistant office manager, that falls into my remit, and while it’s a pretty fun thing to organise, there’s a real pressure when you’re the person responsible for the entire office having a good time.
These days, standing round our desks with a buffet of sarnies and cheap prosecco just won’t cut it, but there are so many options out there - especially in London - it can be a bit overwhelming, and if you leave it too late to organise, it could end up being a washout.
While we can't take responsibility for Dave from accounts peaking too early in the afternoon or Elaine from HR leaving her coat in the taxi, there are a lot of things that just come down to good planning, so here are my 10 golden rules to plan a Christmas do…
Get your invitations out as soon as you’ve chosen the date and ask everyone to RSVP - even if literally nothing else is decided. That gives everyone the best chance of keeping it free, and choosing a venue and other details is much easier when you know how many are coming.
Ask the team for feedback on last year’s party. How did they rate the food? Was there enough drink? Did they enjoy the entertainment? What did they like best about the whole thing? What (if anything) spoiled it? Use this intel to make this year’s better, and only keep any traditions that people actually like.
Venue research is essential - do it as early as possible if you have a specific date. Start with a google search of the best venues in London as this will give you some ideas, and inspiration to open up the search. Think about how your colleagues will get from the office to the venue, and back home again after (because nothing dampens Christmas spirit quite like a three-hour night bus).
Once you’ve shortlisted some options, check them out so you’re not disappointed on the day. A lot of venues do showcases where you can try the food/wine and get a feel of the venue, so try to get in on those. Have your team in mind while your there - will the music be too loud/too quiet for them? Are vegetarian (or other dietary requirement) options the same standard as the main offerings?
Have a list of questions ready for when you find the ideal spot for your team so you don’t overlook anything when you book. How long do we have the table for? Do they have entertainment after the meal? Is there a bar area where we can carry on drinking? Is there a dancefloor? A DJ? If it’s likely some of your team will want to stay out after the event, is the venue close to other bars or clubs?
Also, keep your budget in mind so you don’t accidentally blow it. Does the food package deal include alcohol? What drink packages are on offer? Is there a package for non-drinkers? Is there a minimum spend? What is the service charge on top of the final price?
Don’t be afraid to negotiate. You might be able to secure a package that’s out of your budget - and even if it is within your budget, your company will appreciate any money you manage to save them. If the package includes half a bottle of wine per head, ask if they’ll consider upping it to a bottle per head. Think what your company could do for them in exchange for a discount. Does your work have a strong social media following? Maybe offer up some coverage.
Decide the dress code and make sure everyone knows in advance so they can start planning their outfit. Choosing a theme makes things a bit more interesting, and eases the ‘what to wear’ dilemma for everyone. We usually go with Christmas jumpers as it’s fun, comfortable and pretty stress-free!
If it’s a day do, don’t forget to make a plan for what’s happening back the office while you’re off partying. Book in a temp if you need someone to answer the phones or keep things ticking over.
Think about other ways to bring the festive cheer on the day. We organise a Secret Santa gift swap (we use Elfster to send everyone names anonymously) and then exchange presents on the day of the party. £10 is the good limit as it’s enough to get something nice without asking too much from people.
And an eleventh rule is, of course, have fun!
Tay Associates was established nearly 20 years ago with the mission of being the best recruiter of PA and business support staff in London, and we’ve achieved this by being consistent in our values, attitude and work ethic, but evolving with the market and our clients to stay on top of our game.
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