The most wonderful time of the year is almost upon us. Unless, of course, you’re an HR or office manager who still hasn’t got around to organising the team Christmas party, then it becomes less wonderful. But if you thought the best spots were snapped up back in September, worry not....
The most wonderful time of the year is almost upon us. Unless, of course, you’re an HR or office manager who still hasn’t got around to organising the team Christmas party, then it becomes less wonderful.
But if you thought the best spots were snapped up back in September, worry not. There are plenty of City venues still available in which to celebrate the festive season, whether you’re looking for a swanky soiree to impress clients or a low-budget boozy bash to fuel water cooler gossip for the first half of 2018.
Nadia Evans is the founder of Flavour Venue Search, a free venue-finding concierge service that connects clients with a perfect venue based on their budget, size and event type.
She says that she is still fielding briefs from Christmas party planners who have left things until the last minute, and that while it might seem like slim pickings, a little flexibility can yield some great options.
“Most of the function rooms and large restaurants available for hire will already be booked on key dates,” she says.
“Look into some of the smaller independent bars and restaurants rather than the big names, and book earlier in the week; Mondays and Tuesdays offer more availability and come with a smaller minimum spend.”
The private dining room at your favourite restaurant was probably booked up months ago, so rather than settle for mince pies in the boardroom, try enquiring about clusters of tables in the main dining room, particularly for groups of 30 or less.
“You will get the same food and level of service, but there are more available and less chance of a minimum spend,” Nadia says.
And if you’re set on celebrating on the second Friday in December (the most popular night for Christmas parties in the UK according to researchers), set your alarms early. Morning Christmas functions are a solid option for those with their hearts set on some of the more popular restaurants, with plenty open for the most important meal of the day.
Celebrate with a Champagne breakfast or bottomless brunch – just don’t expect anybody back in the office afterwards. Above all, think outside the box: here are five Christmas party ideas to get you started:
A very cruisey Christmas
No need for party decorations when you’ve got some of London’s most iconic attractions as your backdrop. Book a bash on one of City Cruises’ river boats to celebrate while taking in Tower Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral, London Eye and Westminster.
From 1 December, Christmas cruisers can opt for a three-hour lunchtime or four-hour dinner booking, which both come with a three-course traditional festive meal, a glass of bubbles, and live music from either a vocalist or DJ. Small groups can be accommodated on boats with multiple bookings, or there are still a few available for private hire for groups of up to 250. They also have a great option for families, with Santa setting sail on several dates in the lead up to Christmas Day, handing out festive cookies for kids and minced pies and mulled wine for adults.
Festive cheer amongst the coconuts
It might be cold outside but Kanaloa cocktail bar can transport you and your guests to Christmas Island, where the weather is always balmy and all the drinks have novelty straws. The bamboo bar serves up some of the best tropical cocktails in the Square Mile, while festive food options range from cocktails and canapes through to a traditional three-course dinner in amongst the tiki torches.
18 Wine Office Court, Hill House, Shoe Lane, EC4A 3BQ
Have a jingle bell ball
What’s a party without a ping pong table? Bounce has decked out its venues in Shoreditch and Farringdon with plenty of festive decorations to host Christmas parties of all shapes and sizes; from one-on-one matches with the boss through to big blow-outs for more than 500 of your closest colleagues. There are food and drinks packages galore, and if organising playing partners and dishing out paddles doesn’t sound like your cup of eggnog, enlist the help of a Bounce Games Guru – hand-picked comedians, actors and former professionals of the game – who will host the ping pong portion of your event and ensure your guests are organised, entertained and awarded.
121 Holborn EC1N 2TD
241 Old Street EC1V 9EY
With two nine-hole courses full of crazy loops and jumps, three different food vendors, and five cocktail bars, Swingers is choc-full of social lubricants to ensure your office festivities are exactly that; festive. Chow down with Christmas specials from Patty & Bun, Pizza Pilgrims and DF/Mexico and get stuck into mojitos and martinis on The Fairway, Tanqueray teasers on the Gin Terrace, classics in The Clubhouse, plus all the basics as you work your way around the course.
Jazz up the festivities
Class up your Christmas celebration with some live jazz. Canary Wharf bar Jazzgir lines up some of the best crooners in the business every evening from 5pmto create the perfect setting for a stylish festive soiree. Michelin-trained head chef Samuel Tineo has also added some traditional festive trimmings to the mostly Mediterranean set menu, with apricot and chestnut-stuffed turkey for mains and a Christmas pud for dessert.