The Return of The Christmas Party

It’s December and the talk of the office this time of year is usually around the Christmas party. Except many of us are not in an office as hybrid and homeworking has become the new norm.

A Festive "jolly" can be a way to let off steam, employees feel appreciated for their hard work and we get a much-needed break from the daily grind. This month, Britain’s businesses are resurrecting the office Christmas party in one way or another after last year’s distinctly un-festive season.

With the recent discovery of the Omicron variant, some companies are thinking about returning to a virtual Christmas event or scaling down their annual bash to a smaller affair.

Whether you have a Christmas party to attend, a Zoom to ‘jump on to’ or a festive gathering on hold, we take a light hearted look at the highs and lows of the Office Party, in whichever form it takes! We’ve rated them too!

 

The Highs and Lows of the Zoom party – Our Score 7/10

There are benefits: you have no real danger of arriving too early, too late, too sober or tipsy. Introverts, and those that don’t like to mix business with pleasure, need not worry for not joining in enough, and extroverts don’t need to worry about joining in way too much. There is no getting ready in the staff toilet cubicles, or unplugging your colleagues computer to plug your hair straighteners in at the desk.

Unfortunately, you are unlikely to receive that ‘good will gesture’ email from HR on the day of the party. You know the one, stating that you can leave a whole hour earlier to do a 60-minute round trip, get changed and get back to the venue for welcome drinks at six.

In the virtual world there are no awkward seating plans. You can refrain from getting to the table early to swap wine bottles and placenames so you can sit next to the person you like and away from the colleague who you always seem to clash with!

Gentlemen, there is no need to worry about the PC (pre-covid-19) black tie trousers not fitting. Just ensure you have clean pants on and are wearing a shirt!  But sometimes, I think we all agree, it’s nice to get dressed up!

 

The Highs and Lows of the Team Christmas Lunch – Our Score 9/10

Team lunches, love them or loathe them? It’s either getting drunk at a mid-tier restaurant on a Wednesday afternoon in December, where every person pays for themselves. Or it’s a fancy cityscape where the food is as good as the view and you can order a prime cut of steak and a bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape without re-mortgaging the family home!

We love the team lunch for a number of reasons. It’s an afternoon out of the office and it is likely to finish by eight at night. It’s a great opportunity to hang-out with the team and not talk about the day job. Plus, we secretly love the Secret Santa ritual.

With the absence of overbooked taxis and hotel room afterparties that come with a traditional festive bash, you should be able to retreat to your own bed quickly and easily. For line managers, a lunch is less risky than an evening party.

 

The Highs and Lows of the Traditional Party – Our Score 8/10

Many people secretly missed the traditional office parties last year. That’s my theory anyway. And, the truth is with every festive event on pause last year, many are welcoming the opportunity to buy a new festive frock or bring out their best dance floor moves in December 2021.

There are multiple hazards though! A 2019 study of 2,000 office workers found one in 10 have been caught photocopying a body part, so if you are one of these 200 exhibitionists, stay away from office equipment.

There’s likely to be a table seating plan that leaves you talking to, someone you dislike, distrust, fancy, ignores all your emails (delete as applicable) meaning the polite art of small talk is back with vengeance!  If you have been ‘WFH’ for the last 18 months and the most conversation you’ve had each day is asking the dog what he wants for lunch, this can come as a shock!

This year some companies are holding Christmas parties on a smaller scale, say for a department rather than company-wide. This provides a good chance for worthwhile networking.

It’s also nice to get the first slice of festive turkey for the year (although often it is a portion fit for an elf and a little dry) before the disco gets started and the shy colleague transforms into the dancing Queen or King of the dance floor. Once the bubbles start flowing and the awkwardness wears off, you can guarantee someone will hit the dance floor and throw some shapes. It just so happens that it’s usually the quietest person from the office!

With the corporate Christmas party though there is an early escape option with the classic pre-booked taxi excuse. For line managers and HR staff though, Christmas parties can be a little bit of a challenge. There’s always someone going to phone in the next day with ‘an illness’ and someone debating whether they should resign or not!