The tradition of the office Christmas party has evolved over time, and its roots can be traced back to various cultural and historical practices. In the UK, as in many other parts of the world, the office Christmas party has become an integral part of the so-called holiday season.
Ok, so you might be thinking 'hold on, it's not even Halloween yet?!' but for many - if not most - of those in HR or management, thoughts are turning to the location, theme and even activities of your office Christmas party or company get together. If you are already getting that Christmas Party date in the diary, what's on your mind when it comes to the ways you'll celebrate with staff?
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The work Christmas party arguably began in the 19th century when, with the rise of industrialisation, workplace communities began to form, and employers started to organise holiday gatherings as a gesture of goodwill and appreciation for their employees' hard work. After World War II, the concept of the office Christmas party gained further popularity as a way to boost morale and bring some joy during challenging times. Companies started hosting more elaborate and formal celebrations, often including dinner and entertainment.
As the 20th century progressed, the office Christmas party became a standard practice in many workplaces, reflecting the growing emphasis on employee welfare and the recognition of the importance of fostering a positive work culture.
Of course, during the pandemic, any celebrations went online, with parties happening on Zoom, Teams and no worries about a taxi home.
So what now for the Christmas Party? Post-pandemic, is it time it had a proper shake up? After all, there is a growing emphasis on inclusivity, diversity, and sensitivity to various cultural and religious beliefs in the planning and execution of office Christmas parties to ensure that all employees feel comfortable and included in the celebrations.
There is a growing emphasis on inclusivity, diversity, and sensitivity to various cultural and religious beliefs in the planning and execution of office Christmas parties
Keeping things smaller...
It's not all about 'big parties', says Jessica Brannigan, Lead People Scientist at Culture Amp. “In many ways the importance of cultural/seasonal celebrations has grown in a post-pandemic increasingly hybrid world, as colleagues are less likely to be sitting next to each other or grabbing lunch together in the day-to-day. For many organisations, bringing people together and funding that does need to be considered more thoughtfully to create meaningful opportunities for connection and cohesion in relatively disparate teams. For many organisations, taking the opportunity to do lower key, more team-based celebrations can be rewarding; a team or department making Christmas wreaths or baking Christmas cookies together might do more for building relationships and shared understanding than the classic drunken disco.”
Considering the costs
Zoom parties were a much cheaper way to do things - right? See the Christmas party this year as an investment in your staff says Jenna Ackerley, Founder and Managing Director of Events Under Canvas. "2023 is proving to be a vital year for office Christmas parties. Post-Covid, mid-Cost-of-Living-Crisis, employees are turning more and more to their employers for support. Whilst a Christmas party could be seen as a questionable expense, it’s actually an invaluable event that plays a crucial role in building and maintaining a positive work environment, enhancing employee satisfaction, fostering loyalty, and promoting strong relationships within companies."