Festive Period Planning: It’s Never Too Early

Get a head start on making the festive season extra special for your employees

Christmas will be here before you know it, make sure you're ready for the festivities

With Christmas just around the corner many people will start planning for the holidays, and that includes HR teams. Between planning the office party, whatever form it might be this year, to employee gift ideas and festive activities, there's a lot to be done. 

But is it too early to start planning? There’s no set date for the best time to start getting ready for the upcoming festive period. Provided you leave yourself enough time to cover everything you need to, you’ll be off to a good start. Of course, depending on your workload, resources and the size of your team, that could be a month, or even the better part of the year.

Here's just a few things to consider when planning the perfect Christmas...


the office party

The office Christmas party is often the highlight of the social season, but it can take quite a bit of planning to get it right. 

Booking a venue in advance is essential, particularly if you have a large workforce to celebrate with. Venues book up quickly – so unless you want your Christmas party to take place in the middle of November, give yourself plenty of time to research and organise multiple options..

The downside of this, of course, is that many people won’t be willing to commit to a date months in advance, making it hard to estimate numbers. But many venues will allow you to book for a minimum number, with the option to add more later, if you discuss it with them.

You don't just have to plan a traditional Christmas party, for those of your teams who don't feel comfortable with large gatherings you could do an online celebration instead. 


holiday cover

Staff absences are a major cause of stress for businesses. Ill health is at a high over winter, with coughs, colds, flu and other conditions caused by the chilly weather accounting for 30% of the working days lost to sickness each year. 

In a survey of HR professionals, 28% said they had to work longer hours in December to ensure staffing levels were met, with stress levels soaring as they try and ensure everything runs smoothly.

While you can’t plan for sickness, it is easier to plan for the holiday days your employees will be taking throughout December. A last-minute hurry to book days off in November could leave you understaffed, or with some severely disappointed employees who aren’t allowed their desired days off – encouraging your staff to book in festive time off well in advance gives you enough notice to allocate holiday fairly, and arrange for any necessary cover.

The Christmas Cheat Sheet Avoid employee burnout and keep motivation high this Christmas with our free  cheat sheet - download your free resource here!


employee gifts and rewards

If you’re the kind of employer who likes to reward their employees for a job well done throughout the year, make sure you give yourself enough time to ensure it’s something worthwhile, rather than a last-minute rush job.

Our survey found that for many people, the gift itself isn’t actually the most important part of receiving a gift. Over a third of UK employees (38%) said that the most important thing about receiving a gift or reward from their employer was that it made them feel valued, compared to just 9% who said the most important part was receiving something fun.

Rather than a fairly thoughtless gift idea that you can sort out on December 23rd if need be – like the standard bottle of wine, which isn’t all that appropriate for the 21% of UK adults that don’t drink – take the time to plan ahead.

Whatever employee Christmas gifts you choose – whether it’s personalised vouchers, books, food hampers or gift cards – one of the most important things is presentation. Ensure it arrives in enough time that you can hand it over to your employees and you're not in a rush to send them out last minute. If employees are taking an extended holiday, make sure they get it before they go.



Christmas is one of the most stressful times of the year, caused in no small part by having less time to get work done before taking time off – something cited by 29% of those who took part in our festive motivation survey.

Consider things like: will your typical lead times allow any new work to be completed in good time before the holiday period? If you’re taking on two-month long projects at the end of October, for example, you may run into issues as you approach the end of the year.

Do you need to hire temporary holiday staff to ensure workloads stay manageable? Do you need to reassess monthly targets to keep the pressure on your employees from building up too much? Ask these questions sooner, rather than later.


Don’t stop at Christmas

Once December is over and done with, you’ve got a new set of challenges to face. January blues, employees struggling to get back in the swing of work, New Years’ resolutions inspiring potential career moves, and stressed, cash-strapped employees who can’t wait for that January payday.

Putting all of your efforts into planning for the end of the year without considering the beginning of a new one is risky, so ensure you have a plan in place – and communicate it to your employees in advance. Letting your employees know what’s coming in the 12 months ahead could be a simple way of reducing stress as the year comes to a close.

Some organisations spread their Christmas budget over December and January, ensuring there’s enough left over for sales incentives and staff rewards to help people get back into the swing of things. 

How we can help:

If you’re not sure where to start with finding the perfect Christmas gift for your employees, we can help. Get in touch with our experts today to find out how our vouchers and gift cards can make the ideal present this year!

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