Budget and Catering for an Office Party

Last Updated
August 22, 2009


Most employers (and employees) would like to arrange a massive party, with top class entertainment; however the truth is that many businesses cannot afford to do so! Budget restrictions do not mean that a party should be boring though.

The cost of office parties are usually worked out by finding the cost per person. e.g. If the party costs £500 for 10 people, then the cost is £50 per person.

If arranging an office party is costing too much, then you can consider asking employees who wish to go for a contribution (e.g. £5-10) towards the cost. However, you risk a number of employees not going, which will dampen the atmosphere and raise the cost you pay per person.

Holding a Christmas or office party does have some tax benefits. You will not be taxed on any events that total less than £150 per person (including transport and any accommodation). This is not an allowance, once a party costs £150 or more per person, the full amount is taxable. To qualify the event must be open to all members of staff.

If you hold more than one party/event in a year, those that add up to less than £150 will remain untaxed.

For Example:

A. An event costing £140 per person will not be taxed.

B. An event costing £160 will be taxed in full.

C. Two events, each costing £70 will equal less than £150, so both remain untaxed.

D. Two events, each costing £80 will equal more than £150, so only one will be untaxed.


The majority of party events will have some form of cooking; whether this involves going to a restaurant, food cooked by a party venue, or being specially ordered from a local catering company.

You must be aware of two potential health and safety issues that can arise from party catering:

Food contents

You have a responsibility to check whether any of your employees are unable to eat certain foods. This can include members of staff who are vegetarian, and also those with allergies (e.g. peanuts) or intolerances to particular foods (e.g. wheat intolerance).

If an employee suffers a serious reaction to any food at a party, you risk being held responsible; especially if the problem was avoidable (e.g. By checking allergies beforehand).

Keeping Food

Once food has been made and delivered, you need to make sure that it stays in good condition. This means putting cold food into a fridge, and keeping food covered until it is to be eaten. Products containing meat and other similar items will go bad if left in the warm for long periods of time.

If you are responsible for cooking food, you need to make sure that it is thoroughly cooked all the way through, so that you do not put anyone at risk of food poisoning.

Article Index

  1. Holding a Successful Office Party
  2. Budget and Catering
  3. Drinking and Travel for an Office Party
  4. Decorations and Alternatives for an Office Party
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