Five tips for great Christmas party purchasing

Nanci Lempert, American Express 11 December 2013 | Nanci Lempert

As companies head into the New Year, many are celebrating the holidays and their employees’ hard work with company parties. We have a few practical tips for events planners to stay within budget and corporate card policy, while still delivering a party worth talking about – in a good way.

  1. Know the rules before you charge. Make sure the planning team is well aware of your company’s spending and procurement policies. Nothing causes holiday stress like having to change your plans at the last minute, because a policy wasn’t properly followed.
  2. Consider non-traditional timing. When possible, book celebratory events early to ensure you get the venue you desire, as well as a preferred rate. Save even more by booking your event in January or February, away from religious holidays. Space availability is less competitive and many venues will be offering discounts during this time.
  3. Prepare for the unexpected. Even with the best-laid plans, cancellations are often part of planning reality. During contract negotiations prepare for potential venue changes with a cancellation clause. This should note the venue would waive any penalty fees if it is able to rebook the space.
  4. “Insure” things go smoothly. Risk can escalate at events that may include alcohol or more lively activities. Ensure employees are knowledgeable about potential liabilities. It is also important to confirm the vendor has the proper levels of insurance, and if there is a force majeure clause that includes event cancellation due to inclement weather.
  5. Keep personal and company spend separate. Personal and work errands, including holiday shopping, often blend together at this time of year. Still, employees using their corporate cards for personal use should assume they would be responsible for the charges. Make sure to accurately document all expenses and review expense reports carefully to confirm everything is in order and personal shopping doesn’t get mixed in with supplies for the company party.

Nanci Lempert is operations manager at American Express

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