Christmas parties covered

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Yes we know you’ve not yet taken your summer holiday but any PA worth their salt is already thinking about this year’s office festive bash. Here’s what you need to consider by Cora Lydon

IS THE PARTY TAX DEDUCTIBLE?
The most important factor to consider is does your event involve entertainment – if it does then it’s not deductible. An event will be considered to be including entertainment if: alcohol is served or it’s held at a restaurant, café, sporting venue, theatre, cinema or nightclub. So it’s likely that your Christmas party will not qualify. In order for the entire cost to be a deductible expense your event must be held on the business premises on a work day; open to current employees and volunteers, customers and suppliers only (so no spouses/plus ones), no alcohol should be served and only a light meal or finger buffet provided.

CAN I EMAIL AN INVITE OUT?
Yes of course– but make sure you do it in style. If you’re saving the pennies and want to use email make sure you create something beautiful, not just a few lines on email. Have a look at Greenvelope.com to create stunning bespoke emailable invitations to your events to make that first impressions count.

WHAT COMES FIRST THE VENUE OR THE THEME?
The ideal is that the two complement each other. If you have a definite theme in mind then do search out a venue that will complement this or opt for a blank canvas so you can really go to town. And if you strike it lucky with a stunning venue it just may give you an idea for the overall theme.

HOW MANY CANAPES SHOULD I ALLOW PER PERSON?
If you’re also organising a sit-down meal then allow around three to four canapés per person. Generally if the canapés are being passed around by a member of staff people will consume less, but if left out for people to help themselves to you’ll find more are eaten. You could always ditch the savoury canapés and serve up a two-course meal followed by pudding canapés that are passed around while people mingle.

HOW CAN I MANAGE THE DRINKS BUDGET?
It’s a nice gesture to be able to offer staff some drink for the celebrations but not unsurprisingly an open bar can mean two things– heavily intoxicated staff and a huge bar bill. Make sure the right first impression is made by organising welcome drinks and don’t forget the non-drinkers. Cocktails will always go down well or try big jugs of refreshing Pimm’s or Sangria. Instead of arranging for wine on tables, which not everyone will want, why not offer drinks vouchers to each guest. They can be redeemed at the bar from an allocated menu and once they’re gone guests would have to pay for their own additional

ANY FUN IDEAS FOR ENTERTAINMENT?
The entertainment is nearly always the talk of the event so it’s important to give this due consideration. The only limit is your imagination and budget. You could opt for live entertainment like a band, comedian, circus acts or speaker, or you could arrange for something more immersive like a cooking demo, wine tasting or karaoke. If it’s a large event with many departments coming together you may like to organise entertainment that works the room to help break the ice: roaming magicians, caricaturists, fire breathers and the like will wow the crowds. If you’re going all-out on a theme how about a casino night

HOW ABOUT MORE BUDGET FRIENDLY ENTERTAINMENT IDEAS?
For a small part of your budget you can organise some fun entertainment ideas. Why not set up a small section of your venue with some games for people to play when they want to take a time-out? Ask around the office to see who has some board games they can lend to you– the sillier the better. Giant games are usually a hit too– think giant Jenga or a super-sized Scalextric track. Think carefully about music– dancing is pretty much required at all Christmas parties and this means hiring a band. Could you source a local band through your nearest university? Is there a local amateur or chestra who may be willing to welcome guests with some gentle music at the start of the night? Do always make sure you see them in action before booking. To keep costs down hire your band by the hour for part of the evening and then switch to an iPod linked up to the in-house PA system. To make a feature of this you could ask guests to nominate their favourite song when they RSVP and create a play-list from this

HOW CAN I ELEVATE MY EVENT ON A BUDGET?
Once you’ve got all the key details organised it’s worth spending some time on the smaller details. Some of this will largely be dictated by your budget. But if you’ve saved on the venue think about how you can upgrade the facilities? For example– it’s well worth setting aside a small portion of your budget to buy scented diffusers, fresh flowers, fancy soap an paper towels to put in the toilets to make them feel a bit more luxurious. It’s also worth arranging to have a cloakroom area where guests can leave bags, suitcases and coats securely. This could be as simple as having a small additional room and having a member of staff from the venue man it. The benefit of this is that there is also someone always available to answer queries on where the toilets are etc.

HOT TRENDS FOR 2017

A fun party concept that is becoming increasingly popular is themed bars. “Attendees love to have a unique experience at their Christmas party and having a themed bar is a memorable way to do this,” Say Tim Stevens, managing director of Eventist Group. “Whether it’s Pimp Your Prosecco or a gin tasting bar, organising a creative beverage option at your event is a great way to entertain guests.” They also provide amazing brand awareness opportunities as they are so visually appealing, so if as an organiser Instagram and Twitter are important to you, this is for you, he finishes.
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