Traditionally an opportunity for employees to unwind, socialise, and build stronger relationships with their coworkers outside of the normal work environment, the office Christmas party is a highly anticipated event that brings colleagues together to celebrate the festive season.
The purpose of the office Christmas party goes beyond having fun. It fosters a sense of camaraderie among colleagues, boosts morale, and creates a positive work culture. This once-a-year event allows employees to relax and enjoy themselves in a festive bubble while strengthening bonds with their teammates. But in 2023 we at Make Events are asking, ‘are these benefits enough and should businesses be looking for opportunities to blend the festive fun with important corporate messages?’ Perhaps if event organisers know how to do this effectively, meaningfully, and without diluting the jolly atmosphere, then the answer is an obvious yes.
As the post-pandemic era ticks on, we are seeing the evolution of the office Christmas party. Christmas parties will always, in our lifetime anyway, serve as an opportunity for management to show appreciation for their employees’ hard work throughout the year as they acknowledge achievements, express gratitude, and reward staff members for their dedication. This being said, it is impossible to ignore the evidence that many workplace Christmas parties are increasingly greener, budget-focused, risk averse, inclusive…and generally more ‘corporate’.
If you think back to your last few work Christmas parties, what did they look like? Covid aside, were they no-expense-spared events with unlimited catering, drinks and dancing until you dropped? Perhaps proceedings were a little more frugal with your company offering a budget per person and then happily sitting back while each department organised festive fun of their choosing? Or, have you been attending the kind of Christmas workplace celebrations that have really been corporate-events-in-disguise-as-parties? Events where the business you work for blatantly takes the opportunity of all its staff being together to deliver important company messages with a token invitation to stay around for jovial mulled wine and perhaps even a mince pie.
As Christmas 2023 looms, Make Events is proposing that the time for corporate-Christmas-trickery is over. These “parties” that fail to deliver either fun nor corporate messages with impact should be binned in the first draft of event planning. Honesty, transparency and truth-telling are this year’s buzzwords, and by ensuring your workplace Christmas celebrations align with these values, will create an event that delivers in all the right ways.
To ensure clarity of our message, we need to avoid any kind of scene where your employees arrive in their Christmas attire ready to celebrate this special time of year with their colleagues, but instead of being handed a delightful mug of Christmas Punch they are delivered instant disappointment as sadly for them, they realise that hitting a buffet of pigs-in-blankets and turkey-cranberry pastry parcels isn’t on the menu just yet.
A no-option-to-opt-out opening hour of corporate spiel about the future of the business begins, which in your employees opinion could have waited until an unfestive time of year. Some of your guests politely sit pretending to listen to the CEO talk while others obviously look longingly at the cocktail/mocktail bar, regretting the glass of wine they had while getting ready, and ponder what the Secret Santa presents are from their colleagues, which sit temptingly under the office Christmas tree.
The desired impact of the event was instantly lost the minute expectations were not realised. However, we believe there is a growing opportunity for fusing corporate messages with Christmas office celebrations, but you have to do it in the right way. Our experience as event planners at Make Events tells us that if your Christmas party is planned and executed in the right way, where your guests have the right expectations prior to arrival, you can actually have the brandy-infused Christmas cake and eat it.
We know your business priorities are ever changing and as such your events must change to reflect them. We understand the ever increasing commitments to add social value to the environments you operate in, to protect our planet for the future, to increase diversity within your workplaces, and to respond to the cost of living crisis in a way that helps your workforces. We see you, we hear you, and we are with you to ensure all events, not just Christmas celebrations, are reflective of your current situation. Maybe this means your Christmas party will actually take place in Spring 2024! Whatever the outcome, as long as it is planned and promoted in the right way, you can achieve a positive result all round.
In most instances, corporate Christmas parties have or need to change; if they haven’t already then 2023 is probably the time to make some evolutionary growth. But remember, Christmas office parties have a history and with that comes an amount of tradition and expectation. We don’t need to look very far back to see the hard learned lesson that digging heels in and reacting after the event is not going to serve you in the long run. Understanding your current business environment and planning proactively, creatively, appropriately to consider new ways of blending the old with the new…now that really is going to make new traditions and grow new expectations for a future with a Christmas bash that represents the times we live in.
That being said, if you belong to a company devoted to throwing a once-a-year Yuletide event sponsored by nothing but glitter, tinsel, and crackers, which you believe wholeheartedly to still be worthy of a standalone moment with all the longstanding traditions, then perhaps we have time yet.
Our office Christmas parties will continue to play an essential role in bringing colleagues together in a joyful atmosphere. What this looks like, well that’s what you need to decide.