Employees | 5 MIN READ TIME

How work Christmas celebrations can add to financial stress


Christmas is typically an expensive affair – presents, extra food, parties, not to mention heating bills in one of the coldest months of the year.

Unfortunately, well-meaning employers can add to the burden with events and activities designed to be fun but which put even more pressure on people’s finances.

According to research from experience booking platform Fizzbox, the average cost per person of the work Christmas party in 2023 will be £52.69 per person. That’s 3% higher than last year.

The traditional Christmas ‘do’ was once a few drinks in the office paid for by the business. Today a meal at a nice restaurant is the bare minimum for most. Generous employers might foot some or all of the bill, while others expect staff to dip into their own pockets.

But regardless of how much (or little) the company contributes, that is not the end of the spending for employees. There are additional costs, whether that’s a new outfit, a hairdo, the cost of taxis or even, if they live further afield, the cost of a night in a hotel.

The price of fun

Women’s fashion brand Oasis has published research showing that the average woman will spend £281.78 on the Christmas work celebrations.

Almost everyone surveyed said they bought new clothing accessories at an average cost of £139.23. Transport costs came to £27.55 with accommodation adding £61 to the bill.

And it isn’t just the Christmas party. Secret Santa, where you buy gifts for colleagues, is also increasingly common in workplaces across the country.

On average people spend £12 on Secret Santa gifts, but according to financial website The Motley Fool, Brits throw away £32m worth of those gifts every year. That adds up to just over 2.5m individual gifts. It is a huge financial waste in the midst of a cost of living crisis.

Throw in the pressure of taking part in Christmas jumper days and other seemingly small festive outlays and it’s easy to see how Christmas fun can become a challenge for people already struggling to make ends meet.

Gifts that matter

Employers can help their teams celebrate at Christmas without the added expense however. In fact, with a little thought we can actually make the festive season a little less financially stressful!

Multi-retailer gift cards from Love2shop allow you to give your employees the gift of choice. Those who want a get-together can meet up and use their gift cards in one of the restaurants or bars that accept Love2shop, while those who are feeling the pinch financially can put them towards gifts or food for Christmas.

And there’s a benefit to employers too. Giving gift cards up to the value of £50 per employee can be done tax-free under HMRC’s Trivial Benefits provisions – reducing both the cost and the admin work giving bonuses through payroll can create.

You can see the savings for yourself using our Tax-Free Gift Calculator tool.

Benefit of kindness

Love2shop is one of the best known gifting brands in the UK. Offering gift cards, contactless gift cards, e-gift cards and vouchers, Love2shop products are accepted by more than 150 retailers including Marks & Spencer, Iceland, Matalan, Argos, Costa, Harvester, Tui, Jet2Holidays and more.

It recently published its Employee Value Report 2023 which found 90% of UK employees said a surprise gift of a multi-retailer gift card would make them feel more valued. In addition, 57% of people said days off, multi-retailer gift cards or flexible working are the best workplace rewards, all benefits that help people manage their spending and ease their everyday stress.

The report also found 34% of people given a multi-retailer gift card would spend it not on treats, but the weekly shop.

Giving a reward that has a practical impact on their lives increases employees’ sense of value. It shows them you understand the pressures they are facing – even if they have not shared that with you – and that you want to support them. It makes them feel like they are important to you as a person, not just an employee.

For a relatively small outlay, employers can get into the Christmas spirit by giving hardworking staff gift cards. For example, you could give every employee the same value gift card to buy their Secret Santa gifts.

Offering multi-retailer gift cards helps those who are worried about the financial challenges they are facing this Christmas and the stigma of not being able to afford to join in with their colleagues – which can lead to people experiencing anxiety or taking sick days to avoid events.

Christmas, as we are reminded every year, is meant to be a time of goodwill. With a little bit of thought and creativity, and a relatively modest outlay, you can help your staff get into the Christmas spirit and foster a greater sense of two-way loyalty in your business.

If you want to ease the financial stress of workplace Christmas events, contact our expert team here to discuss Love2shop’s Gift Card, Contactless Gift Card and e-Gift Card options. They can help you find the right gifts for your employees right up until Friday, 22nd December.