The end of the year is just around the corner and the time for company holiday celebrations has arrived.
We’ve already gotten rising minimum wage and healthcare costs from Santa and it’s not even Christmas yet!
- Our expenses are increasing.
- Our budgets are tightening.
- Many businesses are struggling to find affordable ways to celebrate the holiday season with their staff.
Don’t worry; you don’t have to break the bank or transform into Scrooge — because we’ve put together some awesome ideas for inexpensive company holiday celebrations!
Creativity is the key to hosting affordable company holiday celebrations:
If you’ve traditionally held a holiday party, but can’t afford to this year, don’t nix your party plans without first asking yourself if there’s a more affordable way to celebrate with your staff.
Put your Creativity Glasses on and look long and hard at the party elements you consider essential for a successful company holiday celebration.
Cut down on food and venue costs:
- Explore cheaper party venues: It may save money to rent a hall, such as a grange or community center, and use a lower cost caterer. If you have a small company, holding the event in someone’s home can also lower the cost.
- Host a potluck: Turn your party into a potluck, with the company providing some of the most expensive items, such as the meat or main dishes.
- Have management cook for and serve the staff: This is a wonderful way to show appreciation for the hard work everyone has put in throughout the year — and an opportunity for some fun banter and merriment.
- Ditch the fancy-schmancy party clothes: Have the evening’s attire be more casual, so employees don’t have the expense of purchasing a new outfit.
- Host a fun in-office lunch shindig: Why does your company holiday party have to be a dinner? Bring in a holiday lunch for the staff to eliminate the extra expense of spouses, but still contributes to morale.
If you do decide to host an in-office lunch party, remember that it’s not much fun to eat in your cubicle! Make sure to spend a little to decorate and turn the event into something special.
Hold company holiday celebrations at a different, cheaper time:
- Check for discounts: If you still want to eat out, call around for possible discounts. It may be cheaper to hold your party on a weeknight instead of a weekend.
- Wait until January to celebrate: Some companies schedule their year-end celebration parties in January. Not only is this a less stressful time to get everyone together, but restaurants and hotels are not as busy, and might be more likely to negotiate with you on pricing.
Use your own decorations & music to save money:
- You can save money for your company holiday party by using decorations that you or your employees bring from home. If you need some decorations that nobody can bring from home, check out discount stores.
- Music is another expense that you can eliminate. For instance, if you used to hire a DJ or band, you can still get your fix of festive tunes simply by hooking a smartphone loaded with seasonal music up to a stereo system.
Reduce the booze:
Alcohol can be one of the biggest expenses of any party. If you don’t want to eliminate it, give out drink tickets to limit consumption, or have a cash bar.
This has the additional benefit of limiting your liability!
Affordable holiday gifts for employees:
The holidays are always a time of gift giving. Your employees will appreciate a gift that tells them how much you value their efforts. And keep in mind that most people have more financial pressures than ever before.
- Give your employees gift cards: Consider giving your employees a grocery store gift card, mall gift card, or straight out cash. It’ll be appreciated more if it comes early enough to be spent on holiday expenses!
- Give your staff the gift of more free time: Time off can also be a valuable reward for your employees. Can you offer your employees an extra day off between Thanksgiving and Christmas to do their holiday shopping? (This is a great way to make an employee happy and more productive during the most distracting time of the year.)
And remember, it’s not the size of the gift that matters, but the thought behind it!
Make sure every employee feels recognized & appreciated:
Sometimes it’s the little things that mean the most.
- Do you send each employee a personal holiday card, telling them how much you appreciate what they’ve done for you?
- Are you visible to your staff, and often communicating about what’s going on with the company?
- Employee morale is affected by uncertainty and a lack of appreciation and understanding. It might be a gift of your time to your employees that means the most.
Organize charitable activities:
Sometimes it helps for all of us to remember that there are those who are worse off than we are. Despite lean times, we and our staff still have jobs, and there are many without!
- Consider adopting a family for the holidays.
- Give employees a little time off to help a local charity or assist with school holiday events.
Charity makes every company culture better. And stress and depression are often reduced when we reach out to help someone else.
Take steps to reduce your staff’s holiday-related stress:
We all know too well the incredible stress caused by the holidays. There’s more to do than time allows, extra expenses that we can’t afford, and evening and weekend commitments that eat into our precious free time.
There’s also extra food this time of year — and sometimes extra drinking — that lots of people end up regretting for months to come.
- Keeping the office treats under control will probably be appreciated by your staff.
- If possible, reduce or eliminate overtime.
One company offers free gift wrapping, pays for all of the necessary materials, and brings in a temporary employee for one day.
Imagine how much less stress you’d have if you didn’t have to wrap all of your presents!
Try to be flexible & forgiving during the holidays:
During the holiday season, employees may:
- Do a little online shopping at work
- Need longer lunch breaks to run extra errands
- Ask for changes to their schedules.
If you can live with these kinds of temporary dynamics, it will ultimately benefit your business. The holiday season is finite, but people will remember your generosity, kindness, and support for a long time.
The wrap-up (no pun intended):
We’ve asked our employees to do more with less for the last several years. Many people don’t want to see money going to waste on frivolous things when they’ve worked incredibly hard to keep a business going.
However, these stressful times make it more important than ever to get together for some fun, to show appreciation for your team’s efforts, and to say thank you for a job well done.
The real purpose of company holiday celebrations:
Company holiday celebrations and perks have a much deeper purpose than acknowledging the holiday season: they show employees your appreciation and boost your staff’s morale.
If we choose to skip holiday activities or cut back on them, we still have to ask ourselves, “What can we do to show our employees how important they are to the company?”
Originally published in the Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal