Cancelled Christmas Parties and Corporate Gifting Etiquette in the New Normal

By James Malia, UK MD of Digital Gift Card Company Prezzee

The work Christmas party was, prior to these unprecedented times, a night that teams looked forward to from the day the clocks go back and the dark nights draw in. For some companies organised fun would be on the agenda, in the form of team sports or cookery courses. For others, food was the main focus, with elaborate five-course meals washed down with a healthy helping of Champagne. Meanwhile, some organisations headed to the pub at lunchtime until close, decked out in Christmas jumpers with tinsel draped around them. Christmas parties were considered a pillar of modern workplaces: a time to blow off steam and relax with colleagues to end the working year.

March 2020: the month that changed the world

Then Covid-19 struck. Working from home went from being an occasional occurrence to a legal requirement. Lockdowns and social distancing meant that teams were forced to communicate via their laptops, and workplace culture was reduced to Zoom calls and Slack messages. Suddenly being able to speak to your colleague from across the desk, or chatting to your boss while making a cup of coffee, all seemed like a distant memory. Christmas wasn’t even a consideration when the pandemic started, but as the year progressed it was clear that Covid was going to affect the holiday season. If you had a Christmas party in 2020 it was over Zoom, and likely involved some sort of quiz, or wine and cheese tasting…

Working from home or working too hard?

Research shows that UK employees working from home increased their working week by over 25%, with no escape from emails or late night phone calls that would have previously been left in the office. As we near the end of our second year of Covid, it’s clear that staff need a celebration after what has been a challenging and stressful year. But with the Omicron variant spreading, work from home orders have been enforced once again, and Christmas parties are getting cancelled. Staff have worked incredibly hard this year, and their end-of-year party being postponed might just create a feeling of demotivation.

Christmas gifting etiquette

So, what can you do to make sure staff feel appreciated in the absence of a Christmas party or workplace Secret Santa whilst supporting the hospitality sector and retailers? While a gift isn’t the same, it is a good place to start – but working from home adds an additional layer of difficulty to finding the perfect gift; there’s no idle chit-chat whilst making a cup of tea about what’s on your list. Here’s my thoughts on what to consider when buying for a colleague or employee:

1. Dietary requirements:

Don’t be that person who sends a box of dairy chocolates to a vegan, or a case of wine to someone who doesn’t drink. Find out from a colleague, or to be totally sure, ask them yourselves!

2. Interests:

Whether they’re bookworms or thrillseekers, lifelong football fans or avid travellers, your colleagues will have varied interests and getting them a gift that aligns with this is key to ensuring it doesn’t end up regifted or thrown out. If you aren’t sure of what they’re into, a gift card is a great way to take the guessing out of giving.

3. What they already have:

Getting someone a present that they already own is a sure-fire way to ensure it gets regifted. Check with a trusted source if you’re getting them a one-off gift!

4. Address:

According to our research, 61% of corporate gift givers worry that the end recipient won’t receive the Christmas gift they are sending. To avoid this, ensure you’ve got an updated address before sending.

5. Support retailers and the hospitality sector:

One way to help support these vital industries after a hard year is to buy a gift card that can be redeemed at restaurants, bars and shops. The business then gets the money when they visit, and the gift card recipient can enjoy an evening out or a bit of retail therapy. Gift cards that can be redeemed at multiple outlets are ideal for this.

While work Christmas parties are a much-loved tradition, with case numbers up and people taking extra precautions so they can see loved ones, it might not be the best idea to host one this year. We’ve already heard from companies who have approached us expressing that they want to support retail and hospitality, but want to be Covid-safe. Companies might instead focus instead on getting employees a gift they really love, and rescheduling the party for when things have calmed down a bit. A Christmas-themed party in the middle of summer could be just as fun, and with the British weather, snow isn’t totally out of the question!

Prezzee is a digital gift card solution changing the art of gifting. Prezzee allows you to buy, send, store and redeem digital gift cards instantly. Prezzee was designed to solve the problem of sending gift cards for both corporations and consumers. In B2B, Prezzee Business enables simple bulk sends, instant delivery with the option to co-brand with your corporate logo. In the consumer market Prezzee allows users to choose from 120+ eGift cards with the option to customise and personalise their eGift Card.