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Christmas social gathering statistics revealed

Ringing in the changes: The shape of Christmas parties in 2021

Everyone loves a good office Christmas party, which is why we were all sad to see the traditional face-to-face format, in all its seasonal glory, fall by the wayside in 2020 because of the pandemic.

Instead, because of ever-changing lockdown restrictions, these events took the form of the now ubiquitous ‘virtual’ Christmas party which are hopefully now consigned to an almost distant memory.

In fact, when we conducted a survey of 1,000 UK office workers last year to determine how office party planning had altered, more than one-quarter (26%) of all festivities were shifted to the online and remote variety.

This made us curious to observe how Christmas parties might evolve in 2021, as the Covid vaccination scheme rolled out nationally over recent months, and whether we might get the chance to put on the razzle dazzle once again.

Bearing this in mind, we undertook a further survey of 1,000 employees to see how attitudes towards social gathering have progressed and, if it would indeed be us, rocking around the Christmas tree, united once again this year.

A return to more face-to-face celebrations

This time round, a colossal 79% of parties are intended to be held in person, allowing colleagues to come together and celebrate their professional achievements on a more informal footing.

Promisingly, more than one-third, (36%) of employers are planning to host a Christmas party this year, something which was nigh on impossible, save for a meagre 7% of all physical events, last festive season.

Just 8% of all parties will be held online and 10% will embrace the hybrid model of an in-person and digital-based event, which, if executed well, aims to create an equally festive experience for everyone involved, no matter where they are.

However, some employers are still playing it safe, with 37% deciding against having a party all together, which is somewhat understandable during what are still uncertain times.

The age bracket of employees most likely to attend a party are those aged 18 to 24 at 54%, followed by 25 to 34-year-olds at 48%, with those aged 55+ lagging behind at 23%.

If we explore gender differences, 37% of women will get to put on their glad rags and attend a party, compared to 34% of men. Again more women than men (80% compared to 77%) will be treated to the in-person experience. 12% of men will log in for their Christmas party, versus 5% of women.

Size matters

But when there is a party to be had, people are willing to go the extra mile to make up for last year, with 17% saying that this year’s event will be ‘much bigger’ than usual.

The region expected to host the biggest parties is the West Midlands (19%) and the region most likely to reduce the size of their event is East Midlands (29%).

Across the board, 41% of employers are sticking to their guns and hosting the same size party as usual and just 8% are prepared to dial down the scale.

Safety is key

However, employers are respecting Covid restrictions, with 31% saying they will refuse admission for people displaying symptoms. Meanwhile, 30% of employees will be asked to use a hand sanitiser before entering the party. 24% will have to take a lateral flow test. Furthermore, 21% will have social distancing in place and expect to see a negative PCR result. 17% of people will be required to don a face mask.

13% say there won’t be any Covid restrictions at their Christmas party.

No Christmas parties?

Some office workers admitted they won’t have a Christmas party this year. The primary reason for employers to not plan a Christmas party at all this winter is the pandemic (36%). The budget was 12%. 5% of companies will choose charitable donations instead of their Christmas party this year.

4% of employers are doing a surprise Secret Santa instead.

37% of employers opt never to have a Christmas party and some people aren’t impressed, judging by some of our survey comments:

“My employer makes Ebenezer Scrooge look like a rank amateur.”

“They are too tight to pay for it.”

The most popular party dates

People must clearly get that Friday feeling because by far the most parties (35%) are hosted on this day, with Thursday and Saturday coming in at 14% and 15% respectively.

What type of do is it, because we need to know what to wear?!

The most popular type of event (35%) is a three-course meal at a nearby restaurant or hotel, with a similar style lunch getting 27% of the vote. Other options included an evening dinner dance (26%), canteen Christmas lunch (20%) and overnight stay with dinner (15%). Low on the pecking order was a trip to see a show (12%).

Alternative events flagged by those surveyed included:

  • A boat party and then a free club entry
  • Bingo night
  • Steam train journey with booze

What we’ve observed is that people want to get back to normal and spend time together face-to-face after months of lockdown restrictions.

However, people are still following and respecting Covid safety rules and using the technology if required to carry out their yuletide celebrations. The outlook is optimistic and we can’t wait to see how different again the most wonderful time of the year will look and feel come 2022 and beyond.

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