Do you really need an office Christmas party?

With Christmas approaching fast it means that the office Christmas party is nearly upon us. But does the office party give you feelings of dread? Is there an alternative?

David Quinn: BrightHR Social Media Manager

The office Christmas party has become a bit of a tradition over the years, but is it seen positively or a negatively in your company? For some, it’s one of the highlights of the working year, especially if it involves free food or a free bar. But for others, it’s their worst nightmare.

In fact, surveys show that 54% of employees do not look forward to the celebrations. So is the Christmas party the right thing for your company? Will you be seen as a Scrooge if you don't have one? What are the alternatives?

The problems with the office Christmas party

  • It’s not for everyone

You can’t please all of the people all of the time, and when it comes to the office Christmas party it's especially true. Some people won’t like the venue you have chosen, the food might not be to everyone's taste, some people may not be able to make a weekday evening, some people will have to leave early due to the location. Arranging the whole thing can be a tightrope walk.

So, if you are looking for the Christmas do to bring the team together, a Christmas party might not be the best answer.

  • Office romance

Working in close proximity can lead to feelings developing between employees. But it’s at the Christmas party where these feelings can often surface. It must be the festive spirit (or should that be spirits). According to a survey, 20% of staff admit to having kissed a colleague and 14% said they flirted with the boss at a work’s party. But what happens in the cold light of day after the event? Will you have to deal with the potential repercussions?

  • Bust-ups

Just like romance, other feelings could also surface during the Christmas party. Putting together people who may rub each other up the wrong way, with alcohol, might not be the best idea. We have all heard stories about arguments and the occasional punch-ups that happen at Christmas parties. If you think this might be the case for your company and you’ll have to deal with the aftermath then maybe you might want to think of an alternative.

  • Post party absence

With the festive spirits flowing it’s almost inevitable that some of your employees will overdo it and this will ultimately lead to some sore heads in the morning. If the Christmas party is on a work night you may want to be a bit more flexible with your start times the next day to allow people time to recover a little.

Even with flexible options, there are bound to be those who go a little too overboard and end up calling in sick the next day. How do you deal with this and will it affect your business?

So, what are the alternatives to the Christmas party?

  • The Christmas afternoon lunch

Instead of having a night out why not arrange a Christmas lunch out? Everyone one loves a good lunch and you’ll be sure to get a good turnout.

It also means that people might be a bit more restrained when it comes to the drink, it may avoid some problems we mentioned above and it can be a great way of bringing the team together. It also means people can get back home at a normal time if they need to and gives those who may want to go out after the opportunity to do so.

  • Bonus

A recent survey has shown that 90% of people would prefer a Christmas bonus to a party. So why not ditch the Christmas party altogether and use the money saved as a bit of a bonus for your staff? It may sound like you are being a killjoy, but your staff may actually prefer this option. It’s well worth asking their opinion.

  • Time off

Instead of offering a Christmas party is there a possibility of giving staff an added afternoon off? That way your employees can do what they like. If they want to use it as an unofficial party that's fine, alternatively they may just use it as an opportunity to do a bit of last minute shopping.

  • Team building activity

Want to bring your team together? Why not switch the Christmas party for a team building exercise? You could go bowling, go-karting or even one of those escape room things. It’s a great way to get your staff together and build those team relationships, all without the potentially negative connotations of the Christmas party.

  • Christmas day in the office

Why not substitute the party for a Christmas day in the office. Set a Christmas jumper dress code, organise a festive lunch or festive nibbles, arrange some festive activities and games, and put on the holiday playlist. There are plenty of options and there’s something for everyone to get involved in.


Having a Christmas party and worried about staff calling in sick, or about the possibility of having to deal with potential repercussions? Request a free demo of BrightHR today to see how our absence management features can help you with employee sick leave or call one of our team on 0800 783 2806 to see how Bright Advice can help assist you when it comes to dealing with employee issues.