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5 key trends for the 2021 corporate Christmas Party Season

As we move through the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, there is still uncertainty around how companies will approach their traditional end of year celebrations and the impact this may have on Christmas party venues in London.

Venue finding experts at Venue Search London, who booked over £1.5m of Christmas parties into London venues in the 2019 season, have spotted some early booking patterns that may give some insight into how the all-important return to live events may look.

Testing, testing, testing

Whilst there remains uncertainty around the use of Covid passports for domestic events, we can be pretty sure that many will be using these for their much-awaited overseas trips. Therefore, companies may well want to see proof of vaccination or a recent negative test result to allow their staff back into office space as part of their Health and Safety protocols. As such, it would not be a surprise if that policy was extended to off-site social events.

The end of the line for the buffet

For decades, the buffet was the staple food service offering of informal dining, but many of us will not shed a tear to see the end of the buffet queue! The current regulations and perceived risks of cross-contamination will see the end of this service style. Caterers are still working on new and innovative ways to deliver food in informal settings, but we believe that bowl food, bento boxes and well-spaced canape trays will be brought to the fore this Christmas season.

More entertainment, but less dancing

For some event bookers, the thought of a packed dancefloor remains a distant (and possibly risky) dream. Whilst many of us may have been to a packed bar, wedding, or nightclub by the end of the summer (and any fears may therefore have subsided), they do predict that some organisers may wish to ease back into their social event programmes with more after-dinner entertainment, including perhaps a comedy slot or other stage performance replacing dancing. This will also allow a 10pm or 11pm finish, which may be popular with both hosts and guests in this extraordinary year.

The return of the Christmas lunch

Keeping with the trends for alternative entertainment, and with increasing awareness of the work/life balance and the growing company role and responsibility for wellbeing, there is a resurgence of daytime events, which would both reduce alcohol intake and enable attendees to get home at a more reasonable hour. They anticipate that Fridays will be the favoured day for these events, many of which will include live comedy or other on-stage entertainment.

Mixing business with pleasure

For many companies, the Christmas event this year may be the first time the whole company has been reunited in the same room for up to two years, and business leaders may well feel that combining a conference and/or internal awards with a lunch or dinner is a more suitable return to social events than the full-on party format. For evening events, this may include a start around 3pm, with the business element leading into a dinner, and with a 10pm finish.

Whatever the chosen London Christmas party format, the booking patterns for 2021 end of year celebrations will be like no other.

Whilst some companies have already got events booked due to postponements from 2020, others are booking now to secure their preferred dates. Many decision-makers are awaiting greater confidence and clarity in the roadmap to recovery dates and restrictions before making a final call on their plans for this December.