Organising work Christmas drinks: the do's and don'ts

Calum Grewar, Content Writer · 14 Dec

Christmas drinks offer unlimited opportunities, but mainly those that result in embarrassment. Here are the do's and don'ts for how to organise great work Christmas drinks.

*Cliche alert*

Christmas is a time of giving. To ensure that your Christmas drinks end up under the mistletoe rather than lumped by coal, here are some things to follow, and some things to avoid: the do’s and don'ts of organising your office’s Christmas drinks.

We’ve all been there. The nervous excitement mixed with existential dread on the eve of the office’s Christmas do. Is this really meant to be the highlight of the year? How long can you deny to yourself that, yes it is, and that there’s nothing wrong with that?

Office events tend to provide the majority of water-cooler chat for the year to come. So you’re going to want to organise a memorable one. However, striking the balance of organising memorable and enjoyable drinks while preserving the professional integrity of your colleagues and yourself is difficult at best.

yummy looking christmas cocktails

Before planning the drinks, you have to know what people want. Is your workforce filled with sociable young-uns dying to let loose like a moose? Or are they all primarily career-oriented introverts who’d be more comfortable hugging a cactus than interacting with another human?

To organise good Christmas drinks, you have to be one of these people with both a sense of professionalism and fun. Such wizards are few and far between. So if this isn’t you, just remember, many employees expect to be treated and to have a good time at Christmas drinks.

So as long as you make an effort to show them how much you appreciate their work, and splash just a salt-bae amount of cash, it’ll be a storm. 

salt bae sprinkling of cash

The do's and don'ts of organising work Christmas drinks

Follow this set of rules and you'll style it out just fine:

Do: work to a budget

Spending all the company money on a giant ice sculpture of Adam Smith might go down a storm at your bankers Christmas do, but not being able to pay them on the 1st of January would make your division of labour sub-optimal.

If you are struggling for funds, many companies ask their employees to contribute half of the per-head cost, for example. It depends on your workforce and what you have planned. Just remember that Christmas is an expensive time for everyone, during which Perkbox can help you save money, by the way. 

Do: organise free drinks

Disregarding the last point, employees want to feel treated and valued, and nothing says “we want you here” better than a free hot toddy. For some, office drinks are a chore in themselves, so buying a few drinks for your employees is a must. No one wants to spend money on something they’d rather avoid in the first place.

hot toddy

Don’t: force drinks down people’s throats

Religious, health, professional reasons to stay dry should obviously be respected. Believe it or not, many employees want to behave professionally at such events as well. This should go without saying.

Do: plan ahead

Diet requirements - are you even going to order food (yes)? Are you booking a special venue or going to a known-staple? Christmas drinks are not rare, and places get booked up months in advance, book early to avoid delay.

Additionally, organising entertainment and other fun things should also be booked well in advance. This obviously links to the budgeting side of things. But they are both crucial organisational considerations.

organise folder

Do: create an event that aligns with your company culture

If you are a renewable-energy firm, don’t go to a car drag race, try the other kind instead. The execs will be impressed if you can put a fun spin on whatever your company’s raison d’être is. If your team is filled with data analysts, you could print the entire menu in binary… just an idea.

Don’t: ask people to come from far only to leave them high and dry in the middle of nowhere

Prepare taxis, or choose a central location with good public transport links. Helping your staff out on a cold, drunken night will always be appreciated. You can’t risk employees drink driving.

Do: be prepared for trouble

This is only a half-joke, as offense or harm caused to an employee during an event that was the company’s responsibility can sometimes be a chargeable offense, even if the offense was from a public speaker independent of the organisation.

Don’t: always invite everyone in the organization to the same event

No one will feel special if they and their 943 coworkers are bought one cheap drink. This exaggerated number is obvious. But Christmas drinks quickly become impersonal and carried away if too many people come. 

Know who you are going to invite, why, and prepare formal invitations so no one is left in the dark. However, crowdsurfing on a mass of adoring employees does sound like fun. The ball’s in your court.

Do: enjoy yourself

Whether you’re a PA or an enthusiastic drinks-organiser, make sure to enjoy it. Laughter and colds are infectious, and both can be caught by sharing lovely Christmas drinks together. So allow yourself to enjoy the occasion.

Events such as Christmas drinks allow employees to form positive relationships which are invaluable during difficult times at work. If everyone gets along swimmingly at such events, it will only benefit your company.

christmas people enjoying themselves

Do: prizes

Choose quirky classics like ‘best car’ and award it to Mick who only ever cycles, for example. Employees often appreciate tongue-in-cheek awards as it helps breed familiarity and often is a good ice-breaker for such events. Other introductory speeches or games are usually a good way to get people relaxed and engaged with the event.

Don’t: overdo the awards

We’d recommend steering clear of the high-school classics like ‘rear of the year’ unless you only plan on giving it to the office hamster. As well as perhaps not giving awards that are too close to the bone. Any truly professional awards and rewards should be given formal recognition in a different setting.

award trophy thing

Parting reminder

As fun as the Christmas events are, there are always perils when social dynamics and alcohol cross paths. So, to avoid this Christmas cocktail of disaster, for organisers and attendees alike, we’ve got an acronym for you.


P - Professional 

Remain professional. You might not want to, but your boss is still your boss and your colleagues are still bori…. we mean they’re still colleagues. Believe it or not, the festive season will soon be over and you don’t want all people remembering about the Christmas drinks being you badmouthing bosses and criticising coworkers.

R - Relax 

Professional doesn’t mean stressed. For some, they may correlate highly, but correlation ain’t causation. So use this time to interact with coworkers in a more relaxed manner - albeit still professional. Confused yet? This communal relaxation will help you all in the future.

O - Open 

Large companies hopefully boast a diverse array of people. Businesses thrive under a variety of ideas and backgrounds, so why should Christmas drinks be any different? As an organiser, it is your duty to ensure that people of all religions, abilities, genders, sexualities, and races are accommodated for.

Even if you are just an attendee, it is your moral responsibility to keep the office party a safe and welcoming environment that allows for the first two letters of ‘PRO’. We shouldn’t need to lecture you about discrimination, here's a link if you need filling in…

drinks cheersing

So there you have it. By following the majority of the do’s and avoiding most of the don'ts, you’ll create an event that will allow our lovely PRO acronym to flourish. Everyone will have a nice time, and your boss/employees will respect your top-notch event organising ability. Who knew you had this hidden talent?

And with that, DO enjoy the holiday season, DON’T do anything to get lumped with coal…

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