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How to Plan the Best Work Christmas Party

In the world of the workplace, Christmas parties are the stuff of legends. A chance for employers to give back and thank employees, consolidating company culture. Wrapping up the year with a big red bow....

In the world of the workplace, Christmas parties are the stuff of legends. A chance for employers to give back and thank employees, consolidating company culture. Wrapping up the year with a big red bow. For employees, the promise of an epic Christmas party can be just the ticket to boost morale and maintain motivation and team spirit.

But planning a legendary office Christmas party is no small task. The race to save the date starts earlier each year and the pressure is on to make it bigger and better than even before. Here at Social Pantry, our event planners are seasoned pros when it comes to throwing Christmas parties to go down in company history. Bringing big, bold, ambitious ideas to the table and doing all the hard work behind the scenes.

To help get the ball rolling and jingle bells ringing, we’re sharing our top tips for planning the ultimate Christmas party. In this article, you’ll learn the tricks of the trade for choosing and securing the perfect venue. Plus how to make your Christmas party stand out from the crowd. Our event planners share their fail-safe framework for ensuring no stone is left unturned when it comes to party planning.

Save the date. Now. (Yes, really!)

It's never too early to start thinking about Christmas! We love Papier for personalised festive post!

Christmas might feel like an age away. But it’s never too early to start thinking about Christmas. The most popular dates and venues get booked up months in advance. And the longer you leave it to send out your invites, the more likely you are to encounter diary conflicts and find out your colleagues are already committed to events elsewhere. Thursdays have now overtaken Fridays as the most popular day of the week for corporate Christmas parties, events, and client hospitality. And demand has shifted earlier in the month with the second week of December proving twice as popular as the third. To secure your first-choice date and location and maximize attendance, book your venue and send out your ‘save the dates’ now.

Credits: Event Industry News

Break from tradition

Whilst end-of-week parties have traditionally been favored, don’t rule out the idea of celebrating on a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. Many venues offer greater flexibility and even discounted rates. Plus, there is a greater chance that all your add-on services from catering to entertainment will have availability too. Even your Uber journey home could work out cheaper earlier in the week. Whilst there is no denying the post-Christmas party hangovers may impact productivity the next morning, offering employees the option to work from home or a later start time will maximize goodwill and is unlikely to hurt productivity over the course of the week. How about organizing a nutritious and delicious recovery brunch to ease back into the office the next day?

Skip the mid-week hangover and sip on this instead…

Low and no alcohol mixology with The 43 Club. Botanical mocktails are more popular than ever.

What’s more, there has been a generational and cultural shift towards drinking less. With increasing numbers choosing not to drink alcohol at all. The thrill of an unlimited bar and constant flow of drinks can still be at the heart of your workplace Christmas party with an offering based around no and low alcoholic drinks. Nobody wants to be known as the employee who drank too much, plagued with morning-after regrets. A midweek party where alcohol is on the backburner isn’t only advantageous for productivity. It’s a more responsible, inclusive option too.

Choosing the perfect venue

Battersea Arts Centre provides an impressive and timeless event space.

The right venue is arguably the most important element of a successful Christmas party. Style, size, capacity, amenities, and location are all essential considerations. As well as availability and budget. Whilst it’s possible to host a Christmas party on business premises, it can take significantly more time and resources to transform the space so that it doesn’t feel like an extension of work. Taking your party off-site to a spectacular venue sends the signal this is an event to savor. It stirs up greater levels of excitement and commitment amongst employees. And it makes for a memorable celebration that is distinct from other workplace events throughout the year.

Compare your meeting rooms to the Neo Gothic splendor of Guildhall, or the architectural majesty of Battersea Arts Centre’s Grand Hall, and it’s easy to see why a purposefully chosen events venue goes a long way to set the tone for a special occasion. How many offices have a stage for live music or a built-in bar? Plus, you’ll want to be sure set-up and clear-up don’t interfere with regular workplace activities. The last thing you want to think about at the end of a great night is making sure the room is ready for meetings the next day…

Make the most of the beautiful in-built bar at KOKO Camden.

Home or away for Christmas…

Choosing a venue close to your location or with easy access via public transport is important if people will be heading straight from the office. Social Pantry has more than 40 spectacular venues on our books. Including iconic London landmarks such as Somerset House, National Gallery, Guildhall, Two Temple Place, and Southbank Centre. Check out our guide to London’s best showstopper venues or our favorite historic and heritage venues for further inspiration!

Sibton Park at Wilderness Reserve by day Chapel Barn Estate at Wilderness Reserve by night

However, we’ve also seen a rise in overnight and weekend-long corporate Christmas getaways that combine festive celebrations with team building and leisure activities. This is where more rural, remote, and escapist venues come into their own. With Euridge Estate - a tranquil countryside oasis nestled in the rolling hills of the Cotswolds - offering accommodation for up to 32 guests. And Wilderness Reserve boasting properties for parties of any size that come with amenities such as an indoor golden pool, gym, sauna, spa, games room, cinema, and more. Another retreat favorite is Osea Island - an idyllic haven basking serenely on the Blackwater Estuary, remarkably just a little over an hour’s drive from London with a variety of cottages, apartments, and grand houses to stay in.

Wild swimming is just one of the team building and leisure activities on offer at Wilderness Reserve. Social Pantry will be waiting on the shores with tea, coffee (or something stronger!), bacon sandwiches, and homemade cake served out the back of a Landrover Defender for afterward!

Everyone loves a themed party

Most of us will attend multiple Christmas parties across the festive season. And while there is something fun and comforting about the annual Christmas rituals, even the most ardent Christmas-lover can turn into something of a scrooge when faced with wearing the same Christmas jumper, listening to the same predictable playlist, and eating more of the same festive nibbles and lackluster Christmas dinners, for weeks on end. Having a distinctive theme will make your Christmas party stand out and spark more genuine enthusiasm and participation than a generic festive gathering. Outfits become talk of the office in the lead-up. And a great conversation starter on the night. For companies that pride themselves on creativity, innovation, and going the extra mile, a themed party presents a challenge and an opportunity to express and consolidate wider company values.

Creative Constraint

At Social Pantry, we are firm believers that constraints fuel creativity. For instance, our zero-waste philosophy constantly challenges our chefs to think outside the box and create inspiring, exciting dishes with odd or surplus ingredients and more sustainable substitutes. The same is true when it comes to party planning. A well-defined theme narrows the focus, allowing you to execute with precision and purpose. A top tip from our planners: consider your theme across these 6 domains: Venue, Dress code, Decorations, Music, Food and drink, Entertainment. Think about how your theme applies to each of these for maximum impact.

For a Great Gatsby themed party, look no further than Two Temple Place.

For a Great Gatsby themed party, look no further than Two Temple Place. This splendid Neo-gothic mansion combines the grandeur and opulence of a London mansion with the intimacy of a private home. Position Flapper Girl dancers around the stunning Upper Gallery surrounding the grand oak and mahogany staircase - the perfect photo backdrop to capture guests in their glamorous attire. Host a luxurious canapé and speakeasy-inspired drinks reception in William Waldorf Astor’s private Library with its wood-paneled walls, secret champagne safe, and intricate carvings which sit alongside a secret door leading into the Great Hall. Here, indulge in a decadent feast along long-tables decorated with black and gold tableware and extravagant ostrich feather centerpieces. Continue into the night with a live jazz band and dancing in the Lower Hall. Great Gatsby, great success.

If you’d like Social Pantry to cater your workplace or event, or if you’re interested in finding out more about our fabulous venues, please get in touch!