Best low budget Christmas ideas for small businesses

7 November 2022  |   12 minutes read

And just like that, Christmas is right around the corner. But between changes in government, a cost of living crisis, the threat of recession and everything else you’ve dealt with recently, you’d be forgiven for putting it on the backburner.

That being said, all this doom and gloom is probably having an impact on staff morale as everyone grapples with the current economic climate both personally and professionally. The forthcoming festive season is a great opportunity to add a bit of cheer and show your team that you appreciate everything they do for your business.

We’ve put together a few fun ideas to raise your employees’ spirits on a budget this Christmas:

If reading about the business lessons you can learn from Christmas shopping is more your speed, you can do that here.

Get the decs up

It might sound obvious but putting up decorations is the simplest way to create Christmas cheer without breaking the bank. As the cold weather sets in and the days get shorter and darker, adding a bit of colour and light to your workspace is bound to have a mood-boosting effect.

You don’t have to spend a lot money to get enough tinsel and string lights to spread around your premises. Buy a low-cost tree at your local supermarket or online and a multi-pack of inexpensive decorations. Find a corner where everyone can see it every day in a communal area, kitchen, break out room or entrance lobby.

Don’t just throw up some tinsel one morning before everyone gets in, make putting up decorations a company event! You’ve all worked hard this year – off the back of worry-fuelled and isolating pandemic lockdowns – you can afford to down tools for an hour. Throw on a cheesy Christmas playlist, step away from your workstations and get into the festive spirit as a team.

Put an elf on the shelf

If you’re a parent you might already be familiar with this new tradition that’s rapidly growing in global popularity: Elf on the Shelf®. As the official manufacturer’s story goes, you welcome a Scout Elf into your home to report back every night to the North Pole on your family’s adventures. Every morning, having returned, the elf perches in a different spot for you to find.

Of course now the internet has got involved and newsfeeds are awash with the antics these elves get up to in the build up to Christmas – some far less family-friendly than others.

So here’s the low-budget elf idea you can implement at the office:

  • Spend around £23.00 on a genuine Elf on the Shelf® or find a cheaper alternative for under a tenner on Amazon
  • Get everyone excited about a companywide challenge to come up with the funniest, most creative or truly original scenario for the elf to be found in
  • Depending on the size of your business you could compete individually, as teams, per department or in small self-chosen groups
  • Allocate a date for each competitor to take their turn and set up a voting system to choose the winner
  • Arrange a prize whether that’s a cheap and cheerful gift, small voucher or even the afternoon off before the end of the year

Sound like fun? Here are a few ideas to get those creative juices flowing.

Keep them sweet

Everybody likes a treat now and then so why not surprise your team with something low-cost but high-sugar? Get a couple of tubs of Quality Street out in the communal areas, hand out candy canes or stock the kitchen with especially delicious biscuits.

Choose a specific day – perhaps at a weekly companywide meeting if you have one – to set up a build-your-own-hot-chocolate station. All you’d need on your seasonal shopping list is a few tubs of instant hot chocolate a variety of dairy and plant-based milks and some toppings like marshmallows, cream, flavoured syrups and festive sprinkles.

You’re all grown adults doing serious professional work but spending a few minutes embracing your inner child might just relieve a bit of that pressure.

Start a Secret Santa

Why not invite your employees to take part in a Secret Santa gift exchange? Every person (including you) is randomly allocated someone to buy a Christmas present for at a set price point. As gifts are purchased, they can be placed under the company Christmas tree labelled only with the receiver’s name and not the sender. Then one evening in the last couple of hours of the working day host a festive get together to have a few drinks and unwrap your presents.

Of course everyone’s wallets are feeling the pressure at the moment so this one is best kept optional. Give your team the choice of whether to take part with no hard feelings if they’d prefer not to. There may well be employees whose religious or cultural beliefs mean they don’t want to join in so it’s hugely important to respect that.

If your staff entertainment budget stretches to it, you could consider footing the bill. Allocate everyone £5 or £10 from petty cash, for example, supply them with an Amazon voucher code or load funds onto prepaid expense cards. That way everyone can get in on the company fun without having to spend their own money.

If you want to take your Secret Santa online, there are great Secret Santa generators like Elfster that do all the hard work for you. With Elfster, employees can randomly draw a name to receive their gift, see that person’s wish list and create their own, sign up for reminders and even do the shopping from a choice of retailers without leaving the app. Best of all: it won’t cost you a penny!

Judge the jumpers

Mark this date in your diary right now: Thursday, 8 December 2022. That’s when Save the Children’s annual Christmas Jumper Day is this year and it’s your chance to spread cheer while supporting a worthy charity.

For the last 11 years, millions of people across the UK and abroad have put on their jazziest jumpers and made a donation in support of children locally and around the world. This year, the UK government will match any £2 donation to Save the Children to help mothers and babies in Kenya.

This is a serious and very important cause but it’s also tradition for the day to be a fun and festive occasion. From wild patterns or 3D characters and knitted creations with built-in lights and battery packs, it seems like we’ve been raising our jumper game year-on-year.

Christmas Jumper Day is a festive must-have that won’t cost you much. And why not turn it into a friendly competition? Award a prize (or bragging rights) for the best woolly attire or even add a few fun sub-categories like most glamourous, best home-made, ugliest and most obnoxious.

Sweat the small stuff

When budgets are strained, even the smallest gesture could make all the difference to your team’s morale. If your business is small enough to make it feasible, give everyone a handwritten Christmas card. If that’s a bit of a stretch because of size and time constraints, at least sign all of them or put some serious and careful thought into a companywide email.

If you are planning a festive function or staff gifts, a little extra effort can big a big impact. Depending on your industry, you might be able to source products directly from your customers. Make sure you highlight that and point to the problems your business has solved for them so your team can feel proud of what they’ve achieved this year.

If gifts aren’t on the cards right now, even a simple Christmas cracker on everyone’s desk one morning is a sign that your employees are top of mind. An authentic thank you and genuine well wishes for the festive season are completely free and a crucial first step to lifting staff spirits this Christmas.

Find out more about Soldo

Soldo makes it easy for your team to spend company money with plastic or virtual prepaid expense cards and mobile app. Our flexible spend management platform puts you in the driver’s seat with full visibility and control over spending limits, fund allocations and payment categories – while giving employees the financial freedom to get the job done.

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