MT Expert's Ten Top Tips: How to do office Christmas on the cheap

Got a limited budget this Christmas? Lauren Peters explains how you can keep the festive spirit alive.

by Lauren Peters
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013
Christmas is nigh, and business owners are anxiously counting their pennies, wondering whether they can afford Christmas parties. Is it possible to reward hard work and boost employee morale when pay rises and bonuses are out of the question? We asked Money in Mind boss Lauren Peters how cash-strapped companies can show employees that their contribution is truly valued – while keeping costs down.

1. Make it personal
Genuine appreciation goes a long way. Plenty of employees have been putting in overtime for years without receiving an annual pay rise, let alone overtime pay. Acknowledge their efforts by speaking to them individually or by sending them a personalised letter to let them know their hard work is very much appreciated.

2. Educate
During Christmas, money worries can lead to stress and sickness absence. Providing employees with access to financial information and guidance can help them learn how to better manage the money they do have and put them back in control of their financial futures.

3. Keep the nights out
Going out for staff drinks or a work night out should encourage bonding and provide light relief when work has been stressful – so don’t be tempted to cancel your Christmas do.

4. Make use of tax breaks
Employers can claim tax breaks when they spend up to £150 per member of staff on an annual event (aka your Christmas party). More information on the HMRC website.

5. Token presents
Awarding top performers with token gifts can do wonders for morale and motivation. They don’t have to be expensive: a bottle of wine or even an extra day on top of their annual leave could be the prize.

6. Go public
Celebrate a job well done by announcing individuals’ achievements to the whole workforce. Just because pay rises and promotions are off the cards doesn’t mean accomplishments should be kept secret or swept under the carpet.

7. Christmas decorations
Get everyone to pitch in by creating an inter-team competition for the best-decorated workspace. Prizes don’t have to be lavish: a box of chocolates or a few quid for a night out is enough.

8. Secret Santa
Encourage your employees to get to know each other by doing a secret Santa. Or, if that’s a bit uncomfortable, try Bad Santa – where each of your employees buys someone else a ‘nasty’ gift, which they can exchange with others before they open them. Make sure you set a price limit, though…

9. Get your staff a discount
If you can’t afford a party, try getting your staff discounts: gyms, restaurants and other local businesses often provide corporate discounts if you ask for them. You could grab your employees 10%, 20% or even 50% off if you just ask around.

10 Be flexible
Six million people – or one in eight workers – in the UK are carers, which saves the UK economy £87bn a year. Over the Christmas period, make it as easy as possible for carers to fit work around Christmas shopping by allowing job-shares and flexible working hours. This will ensure they feel valued and encourage loyalty to the organisation.

- Lauren Peters is head of financial education at Money in Mind, an online financial education resource created by Killik Employee Services.

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