Casual Christmas parties ideal for start-ups

An HR expert says start-ups should opt for casual Christmas parties amid reports of a return to corporate opulence in the wake of the global financial crisis.


In 2008, Christmas cutbacks were rife across all industries as the economic downturn curbed spending on frivolous festivities.


However, market research organisation IBISWorld predicts Christmas party spending to grow by 7% this year to $600 million.


Mercedes Trautwein, director of incentive marketing firm EVT, says celebrations are in order in the post-GFC landscape.


“It’s been such a tough couple of years that businesses do appreciate that employees need a party and a good time as a thank you and recognition of everything that’s happened in the past year,” Trautwein says.


Vicki Crowe, founder of Canon Recruitment, says start-ups should tailor their Christmas party to suit the size of their business.


“The event needs to match your business because there’s no point hosting an elaborate function for only three people,” she says.


Crowe advises start-ups to consult their staff as to what type of event they would like, and appoint a staff member as the Christmas party “project officer”.


“Staff may feel awkward going to the managing director with suggestions. They’re more inclined to approach another staff member,” she says.


Crowe says start-ups should opt for a casual event such as a picnic, barbecue or even a country race meeting, as these options are cost-effective and suited to smaller groups.


She encourages the invitation of partners and children, particularly in a daytime setting, and says start-ups should refrain from formal speeches.


“Annual speeches are really designed for larger companies where an employer may not make contact with every employee on a daily basis,” she says.


“This typically isn’t the case for start-ups so there’s no need to introduce a formal element into an otherwise casual setting.”


With regard to gifts, she suggests a ‘Kris Kringle’, whereby each person selects another person to buy for, as you can decide on a price limit.


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