7 Tips For Cool Corporate Christmas Party Venue Choices

October 18, 2017

Is it nearly Christmas? If you plan your Christmas party right, your staff will be getting equally excited about celebrating.

Just a tip: by the time you see the festive decorations start appearing in the stores, it's already getting a bit late to book and plan your Christmas party... 

Your Christmas party venue choice depends on seven factors

Choosing your Christmas party venue depends on guest numbers, theme, budget, date and time, location, type of venue, and precedent.

1. Your venue choice starts with your number of guests. Clearly, you need very different venues to cater for a Christmas party of 30 employees compared to an event for 500 staff.

Using an online venue sourcing service such as VenueNow will help you locate fantastic venue options such as Melbourne's Old Gaol.

If your staff can bring partners it will double your numbers and therefore costs, but your employees will appreciate being able to introduce their partners to their workmates.

On the other hand, if you're a boutique firm with 10 or fewer staff, you have tremendous flexibility, and could make your Christmas event anything from a staff day out to a themed and professionally catered dinner party.

2. A theme adds excitement and anticipation to your corporate Christmas party.
It makes it fun for your staff to dress up, and costumes always encourage people to mix and mingle, making it ideal for people from different departments to meet each other or for partners to enjoy themselves.

Choose your venue to match your theme, such as a surf club for a Hawaiian theme or somewhere glamorous for a James Bond theme. If your venue already matches the theme, you won't need as much decor.

3. How much will you spend per head on your Christmas party?
This includes everything from the invitation design, choice of venue, catering to the music and decor hire.

Will your party be a ticketed event where employees pay to attend, will you use money from the social fund to pay for it, or are you spending an allocated amount where employees are completely paid for or some combination of the above?

Are you using sponsorship in any way to pay for your party? Are you using your Christmas party to invite your suppliers?

Some advertising agencies throw legendary Christmas parties, creating an atmosphere where the annual festive entertainment becomes part of the much-anticipated employee perks.

3. What type of Christmas party you want to have determines your venue.

If you're having a family-friendly picnic day where employees bring their kids, it needs to be held during daytime if the majority of children are aged under 5 years, or in the afternoon between 4-8pm if your workers' children are still at school.

You'll need somewhere where children can race around happily, someone to organise games and food tents, and you'll need a Santa Claus bearing gifts.

If your team is small and you want a classy Christmas dinner party, consider decorating an area of your premises and hiring professional caterers, or booking a private dining room.

If your workers are twentysomethings they'll want a venue that's Instagrammable and hard to book for the "boast factor", and close to transport as they're likely to have another party to attend after yours.

4. The date and time of your party determines your venue.
Clearly you will have the most venue availability on a Monday or Tuesday - as fewer companies book those dates for events - but many venues are closed on a Monday.

You may want to consider that booking any Christmas party Monday-Wednesday will eliminate up to an entire workday in terms of productivity, while next-day staff absences (thanks to hangovers) could be expected for any party held Sunday through Thursday.

If you do want your staff to return to the office after a lunchtime party, you will need to book a venue that is within walking distance of your premises, or hire a bus to ferry staff to and from the venue.

If the party is on a Friday or Saturday night, unless it is a particularly special or unusual venue, you may not get the best staff attendance as many people may have prior engagements.

5. Your business location determines your party venue.
If you and your staff typically socialise together at your local metropolitan bars and restaurants, you may have either have a nearby favourite venue you can book or you may want to try a (new) rooftop bar, such as The Rooftop at QT to make it a surprise.

Try to book something within 5-10km of your premises. If your staff must leave their car overnight to avoid the risk of drink-driving, they won't appreciate a hefty taxi or Uber travel expense or a complicated public transport plan to get home.

Even if you work by Melbourne's Southbank or Sydney Harbour, I'm sad to say, very few employees really enjoy parties on a boat as they feel "stuck" with no freedom to leave until it docks.

If your business is based in an industrial area with staff travelling far afield, you may consider hiring a professional event stylist to decorate your warehouse, display room or your conference room.

6. Your corporate Christmas party is impacted by your choice of venue.
The venue you choose signals what type of Christmas event you're planning for your staff.

Compare a Christmas party held in a legal firm boardroom: it's a strictly formal business affair where you must mind your p's and q's vs a festive event booked at well-known party venues shows your company wants you to have a good time.

A pub around the corner shows your party is meant to be a low-key, low-budget, casual choice. At the other end is a five-star hotel ballroom. And then you have venues of all types all the way between.

What message do you want to give your staff? You're business-like? Creative? Budget-conscious? Generous? 

7. Your choice of venue sets a corporate Christmas party precedent.
Whatever message you send by your choice of venue needs to be consistent as it creates a precedent to your staff.

Do you intend to book the latest, coolest and hardest-to-get-into event this year?  Do you go all out with Christmas decorations booking a stunning venue like The Dome? Did you do something similar last year?

Do you normally cater an elegant cocktail party, have a staff day out doing an experience, or a relaxed family day picnic in a nearby park? 

People like consistency. It doesn't have to be the same venue - but the same class of venue.

They worry about company finances if you spend a lot of money one year on the Christmas party and then not the next, or if your class of venue is completely different, or if you have a costume party one year and then downgrade it to drinks at the local bar.

Making a huge effort one year and then treating it as an afterthought the year after is poor for morale, too.

That said, as your business grows, your staff will expect your Christmas party to grow in its class of venue, decor and catering - and any Christmas gifts given... 

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