Wave goodbye to the naff office do – and say hello to an on-site celebration with money saving, motivation and millennials in mind
Words Millie Milliken
For me, the words ‘staff Christmas party’ used to bring back memories of the scene in The Office where Gareth, Tim and Keith brainstorm the company bash. Their lineup was less than enticing: cold buffet, wet T-shirt competition and ‘something for the oldies’. Thankfully, the in-office party landscape has changed considerably since 2003.
‘We’ve noticed a steady rise in companies looking for new, more exciting alternatives to the traditional office Christmas party,’ says Eventbrite marketing director Marino Fresch. ‘The days of a few streamers in the office and a bowl of dubious punch seem to be in the past.’ In short, it’s farewell to half-arsed committee meetings and hello to caterer delivery services, drinks trolleys and hands-on entertainment. Phew!
Damian Clarkson, managing director of The London Kitchen, has noticed a change, too. ‘Last Christmas we received a lot of enquiries for office parties, and most of those were very last-minute,’ he says. ‘The biggest we delivered to was for 200 people, the smallest was 10.’
Expecting more of the same this year, the catering company has launched its Christmas Party in a Box canapé range (from £20pp) with Deliveroo, making it the first caterer to be available through the delivery app. A sign of things to come? Clarkson is confident. ‘I think there will be a flurry of other caterers joining food delivery services. Who’d have thought even a year ago that you would be able to order your annual Christmas party via a smartphone app?’
So why the change? For Fresch, the answer is simple: ‘It’s due to Generation Y’s changing preferences. This workforce values great memories – and images – of experiences over just going for a drink together.’
Keziah Brown of workshop specialist Heaps & Stacks thinks the modern working environment is a catalyst. ‘We find that people are sensorily deprived. Give them something as simple as a lump of clay and they lose their minds.’ The company has transformed boardrooms into toy factories to teach traditional woodwork skills and turned staff toilets into pampering salons. It’s even produced workshops on hand-blowing glass baubles. ‘We’ve already had a number of requests for traditional wreath making, candle making and cracker rolling, but we do get stranger ones. One unusual request was for a Christmas-themed life drawing class, with mince pies to cover the vital areas.’
Well, the most obvious one is that you save money. Not having to pay a venue means more dinero for entertainment, drinks and activities. There are other benefits too. ‘If you’ve got the space and a good location, it makes sense to use the office,’ says Brown. ‘It can be dressed however you want and your team can be as weird as they want – in privacy!’
It can also change attitudes. ‘A less tangible side effect is that employees will associate their work space with more than just the place they work in every day,’ says Fresch. That’s a feeling that will remain long after the tinsel has come down.
Put the plan to action
Give the home-made punch a miss – these three suppliers will transform your office-party:
+ Holy Water
The team can arrange cocktail-making masterclasses or just straight-up mixology services in an office. They will even tailor drinks to your team’s level of inebriation. Nice!
+ Cocktail Tricycle
This copper-coloured three-wheeler from Ideas Box will deliver G&Ts, moscow mules and vodka tonics to your baying crowd.
+ Betty the Botanical Bar
Event organiser Christabel’s harlequin-mirrored mobile bar comes with its -own herb garden, and its cocktails are made using seasonal fruits and vegetables.
If you’d rather get out and about for the annual do, then check out some of our favourite classy options here.
This article was first published in SquareMeal Christmas 2017