MONDAY 5 DEC 2016 1:27 PM


Office Christmas parties can become clichés if they don’t reflect the best of the company’s internal culture. How can organisations large and small plan for a successful function?

The coffee cups are turning red, the fairy lights are turning on and the children’s faces are turning rosy. It’s that time of year again. Christmas party season. For groups large and small, planning a Christmas party that is fun, but also engaging and suitable to the company’s internal culture can be a challenge. The traditional Christmas lunch option is always a good choice, at venues traditional and quirky. But activities can spice up the lamb-and-trifle meal to make a party worthwhile, and also engaging for employees, only if they best suit the company’s culture.

For those offices on a tight budget, a pot luck can be a fun way to have a meal without the elevated price tag that comes with Christmas lunches nationwide. Distant workers can take part too if they’re reimbursed for their own, remote meal.

For the adventurous of spirit, among the many cocktail courses and crazy golf options, there are some activities that may shine brighter than others among the season’s festive lights. Escape rooms, like the Escape Room in Manchester or HintHunt in London can drum up some friendly competition between teams. For an even more active – and slightly quirkier – choice, visit the brand new London Shuffle Club to give employees a chance to show off their shuffleboard skills. A pop up at the Old Truman Brewery, the venue offers cornhole, a pizza kitchen and a prosecco-distributing scooter.

If that’s still too sedentary, join in a bubble football match – where players are trapped in plastic hamster balls – or visit the Castle Climbing venue in north London to reach new summits this festive season. Belay on.

For those companies seeking fewer adrenaline-fuelled options, the ghost tours on offer at Surrey’s Ham House and Gardens make for a National Trust visit to be remembered. The 17th century mansion is chock full of frights and treasures, not to mention festive drinks. Through the Everyman Cinema’s private hire offers, colleagues can watch even more frightful films in comfort. The Nightmare Before Christmas and mince pies, anyone? Or, to visit a modern national treasure, head to Cornwall’s Eden Project for a group tour and tasting at the UK’s iconic biodome.

But for some workplaces, traditional is the best option. For those Christmas parties, an unusual venue, even on a Pullman Train or Thames river cruise can be just the ticket. Mr Fogg’s Tavern offers a trip back in time to the Victorian age with a classic cocktail menu featuring modern concoctions. Or, for that matter, book a whisky tasting via the experts at Milroys of Soho. The historic whisky shop offers comprehensive tastings that bring Scotland’s best to the capital. A small office can head to a cosy pub or an alpine-themed getaway, like Bodo’s Schloss in Kensington or the Lodge in Clapham for a ski getaway without the fuss. For that matter, Snozone, in Milton Keynes and Castleford, offers snowy rooms or a trip down the slopes for the adventurous.

The best Christmas parties are those that make sense to the company. Employees should feel as though the party is an extension of the employer brand, even if they attend solely for a free meal, a chance to drink hot toddies or the opportunity to hit the dance floor during working hours.