Creative Christmas Parties

There’s a reason the media call it ‘Christmas in July’. A bit like booking your summer holiday in January, if you want the festive season to sparkle and shine it’s never too early to start planning.  The majority of companies have booked their Christmas celebrations by early autumn so the sooner you start researching, the more choice you’ll have when it comes to venues, caterers and entertainment providers.   

Once you know the size of the group you’re entertaining, whether it’s a company-wide event, a department or team party, consider who will be attending and what they’ll find most enjoyable.  Boozy Christmas parties are definitely not to everyone’s taste so don’t be afraid to break the mould and try something different and infinitely more memorable that takes into account people’s lives beyond work. Your Christmas celebrations are a chance to boost employee engagement and morale by arranging something that staff will genuinely look forward to.    

If a lot of employees have children, they might prefer an event in November or January when diaries are less packed with nativity plays, grotto visits and family commitments.  Acknowledging the reality of the season shows empathy for staff, plus you might benefit from a discount on venues and catering outside of December.   

Christmas Getaways

If you’re in charge of a Christmas celebration for a small team or a group of senior execs, consider an overnight retreat with partners invited.  Country properties that offer exclusive hire are perfect, like Pywell Park in the New Forest which has 10 luxury, eclectic bedrooms and huge grounds. If more bedrooms are required, additional accommodation could be provided by other nearby hotels such as Chewton Glen, Limewood or The Pig.

Offer an optional menu of indoor and outdoor activities for guests to choose from during the day with key meals where the group will reconvene to bond over good food and wine. You could extend it further and invite whole families with festive activities suitable for children like Christmas crafts, wreath making or a trip to a popular light trail. Our favourites include Blenheim Palace, Waddesdon and Kew Gardens.

If budgets allow, venture further afield and take a group to a European Christmas Market in Berlin, Prague or Budapest, or even to New York in November when the outdoor ice rinks are open and the city is festooned with lights and decorations. Give staff the option to bring partners, or families if it’s over a weekend, to acknowledge the importance of making memories with loved ones at this time of year. By inviting employees to a special event that they might consider booking themselves, like a light trail, you’re demonstrating an understanding of people’s priorities as well as helping to relieve some of the financial burden at Christmas

Bring Christmas Elves to the Office

If budget is an issue, focus on creativity and inclusivity and host a series of smaller events within the office. Over a day, or even a week, you could offer a selection of helpful, bookable services and activities for staff that will spread some joy and ease their burden during the festive season

This might include external providers coming in to offer gift-wrapping services, beauticians giving manicures and pedicures, hairdressers offering blow dries, or fun interactive workshops. Staff could learn how to make simple Christmas canapes and cocktails, get table-scaping tips, make the perfect mince pie or create a mouthwatering cheese board. It’s a chance for employees to pamper themselves and alleviate some of the pressure in the lead up to Christmas, as well as bonding over fun new skills.

Along similar lines, you could invite a local choir or brass band to perform carols in the office with a charitable giving element. Or offer staff an afternoon out with a personal shopper in a department store so they can choose a party outfit or find a gift for a loved one. Beauty brands like Trinny London offer private skincare and beauty workshops that you can book for a small group in advance of the party season.

All of these activities, no matter how big or small, will show staff that you care about their wellbeing (and their stress levels!) at Christmas.

Indulgent Christmas Party Experiences

For a festive celebration with a focus on sophistication (not Sauvignon Blanc!) how about sending the team for a festive afternoon tea at one of London’s iconic and grand hotels like The Corinthia, Raffles or Claridges.

Or host a Christmas party in a hotel that makes your guests feel really special like Estelle Manor in Oxfordshire, a Grade-II listed country house and private members club where its possible to book space for meetings and special occasions.  For the buzz of the city, try The Store, a beautiful new hotel in central Oxford in the former Boswells department store. It’s a gorgeous space that has incorporated the shop’s history into its interiors.  The stunning rooftop bar has views of Oxford’s dreaming spires and several of the bedrooms and suites have outdoor terraces. Wrap up warm for night time views of the twinkling Christmas lights below.

In the west country, the hotels of Bishopstrow and Homewood have a ‘country house party’ vibe and can be exclusively rented by smaller groups with plenty of festive activities to tie in like trips to the light trail at Longleat or the Christmas markets in Bath.  Near St Albans, Georgian Sopwell House has event spaces, luxury accommodation in 128 rooms, a high end spa, two bars and renowned restaurant Omboo.

For a theme that isn’t just about Christmas, consider dinner in an unusual venue like Silverstone, Red Bull, Williams F1 or Bicester Heritage

At Octopus, we have great relationships with these hotels and venues (and many more) and we can liaise with them on your behalf to arrange a stylish and memorable Christmas party.   

Wherever you choose to host your Christmas celebrations, remember to show a duty of care to your employees by arranging transport and offering accommodation if appropriate.  Your guests will quickly get in the Christmas spirit if their needs are taken care of. 

To elevate your next event, get in touch with Sarah Hopgood on 07860 145 950 hello@octopusevents.com

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