With one month until Christmas, we again enter one of the busiest periods of the year. As well as shopping for presents there are dinners, drinks, decorating and of course the office Christmas party. The ICAEW has helped to lighten the load by putting together a list of the top dos and don’ts for organising your work’s end-of-year bash:
- Book a space long in advance
The first rule in deciding a location: do not do it in the office. Although it’s cheaper and practical, no one wants to spend their Christmas party standing around their desks. Think about a place that is appropriate to the kind of company you work at, and what kind of environment your colleagues will feel comfortable with.
Try to secure a venue as soon as possible. Be aware that some places might already be fully booked, depending where you’re based. Thursdays and Fridays are always more expensive, and may no longer be available. Try to choose a date that can accommodate most people (weekends are not a good idea).
- Think about people’s restrictions
Once you pick the location, make sure it has enough options to accommodate everyone. Ensure there are non-alcoholic options, food and venue accessibility that meets everyone’s requirements.
- Agree the budget with your boss
Before making a reservation and deciding menus, set a budget with those in charge of your company’s finances – and stick to it. You may need to impose a limit on the amount of food and drinks on offer in order to have enough money for other activities. Most venues will ask for a deposit beforehand, so ensure you have funds available then.
- Be aware of the tax break threshold
A bit of Christmas cheer worth noting is that businesses can spend up to £150 per employee each year on entertainment, completely tax free. So as long as you stick to this amount the tax-free status will apply.
The cap includes accommodation and transport home, as well as food and drink. But beware, if you spend as little as one penny over the limit, the full amount spent on the party becomes liable to income tax and national insurance. Moreover, when it comes to gifts for staff, only presents deemed “trivial” are exempt from tax.
- Don’t charge employees
Whatever you decide to do, make sure you don’t end up having to charge employees. This is the time of the year where the company can thank its staff for their hard work, so they should not be required to pay for anything.
- Think about the day’s activities
While food and drinks are great, it might be worth thinking about activities or surprises you can prepare for the party. Hiring a DJ to host the evening is a great option and will attract people to the dancefloor. Other options include organising a quiz, karaoke, or some games.
In summary, get your date locked in early, get your budgets in place, know your tax free limit, give everyone plenty of notice and don’t forget to use the event to acknowledge what the team has achieved this year. But most of all, enjoy yourselves!
Further reading: Preparing for the festive season – Tips for SMEs