Christmas party season is here and you may find yourself receiving not just an invite to your own office shindig, but clients', your spouse's and wider networks’, too.
But if this thought strikes you with dread, fear not, as we’ve compiled some top tips to see you through the transition from desk-dweller to social butterfly with ease.
First up, if you’re the organiser of your Christmas party, make sure to take advantage of HMRC’s £150 per person annual tax and NIC-free entertaining allowance that extends into February. The rules are somewhat abstruse and some AccountingWEB members have already asking for technical guidance on the subject.
Make the event open to all permanent employees and keep receipts for any expenditure incurred. The other rules you'll need to follow include:
- Cost is only tax deductible for employees and their partners - but not business partners or sole traders
- You need to take all costs into account, including transport, accommodation and VAT
- If you exceed the £150 limit, individual members of staff will be taxable on their average cost.
Networker and AccountingWEB contributor Mark Lee added that if it’s not your own event, resist the urge to explain how the BIK would apply to the party you’re attending.
“Indeed, try not to even think about it, unless you are the employer, of course,” he quipped.
Once you’ve got the financials out of the way, it’s time to dust off your best clothes and prepare to enjoy the parties.
But don’t let the pressure of self assessment season and the allure of a few free drinks trap you into going too far overboard on the sherry.
Joined-Up Networker and regular AccountingWEB blogger Heather Townsend, meanwhile, offered few sage words of advice for practitioners ahead of their parties:
Say no to that fifth brandy
Just because there are large amounts of free alcohol available, you don't have to drink it all. By all means go ahead and enjoy yourself and let your hair down. But your future career and business prospects may hinge on whether you were the one who photocopied various parts of their body. Remember that many of your peers will upload photos to Facebook. How do you want to be remembered on these photos?
Don’t be a wallflower
Even if you would rather have your teeth pulled out without anaesthetic than socialise with your work colleagues at the Christmas party, do make sure you go. Give yourself a target of having a chat with the key influencers who will be there, then you can head home.
Your aim is to be seen by the people who matter. Then you can go home. After all, you can always claim family duties or poor train connections for your early exit.
If you are the boss, get the first round of drinks in for your team.
It's the little things that your team will notice - and getting the first round in is always a good way of earning a few brownie points.
Set yourself up
Line your stomach before you attend the party. The little canapes that go around at a cocktail party are never enough to counteract the free booze on offer. Try to have a banana or a glass of milk before you head out.
Arrange some wheels
Have your transport home arranged in advance. It can save a huge amount of angst later and help you out if you find it hard to say no to the 'let's make this a long night'...
Don’t talk shop…
It’s often hard to not talk business at these types of events. After all the common thread you have with other guests is that you work for the same employer. But take the time to get to know your work colleagues more deeply than from superficial conversations about work.
So, let your hair down and eat, drink and be merry. It is a busy season for accountants and any chance of relief from self assessment and difficult clients is to be welcomed. Just do it safely and without going too far overboard.
For further reading, see:
- The 12 tax days of Christmas
- Who wants to party this Christmas
- A friendly reminder to slobbering drunks: Be less slobbery and drunk at your Christmas party
What are your tips for the Christmas party season? Do you have any funny stories from years past to share?