Avoid Leaving your Team Out-of-Pocket This Christmas

Christmas can be an expensive time of year for employees and businesses. But there are ways to keep Christmas budget-friendly for everyone.

Managing the cost of Christmas

Christmas can be an expensive time of year for both employees and businesses. Individuals need to juggle gift buying, meeting up with friends, visiting family, and attending office parties. And all these Christmas events can really add up. While companies might need to worry about sorting gifts for clients, finding value-for-money event ideas, and covering party expenses. But there are ways to keep Christmas budget-friendly for everyone – some less obvious than others.

Reducing costs is more important than ever

With prices and interest rates on the rise, budgets are front of mind for both partygoers and party planners this year. Higher food, fuel, and energy prices mean it’s more important than ever to avoid overspending. For managers looking for Christmas company event ideas, there are lots of ways to reduce the overall bill. Swapping a city centre bar for a private room in a pub can make everything from venue hire to the drinks and food bill lower. While shopping around to compare different days of the week or even different months, can have a big impact on the overall cost. Ditching extras like a photobooth, decorations, or entertainment can also help keep things within budget. But it’s not just what you’re spending that can make a difference. Many businesses overlook how they manage their spending when looking for ways to cut costs.

Are credit cards breaking your budget?

Traditionally, organising and paying for the office Christmas party has involved paying with company credit cards. Party organisers might use a credit card to pay for the venue and food, while managers might use their corporate credit cards to cover a few drinks for their teams. But using credit cards can make it more difficult to stay within budget – a problem which is made worse as prices rise. Unless they spend time keeping detailed notes of what’s been spent, party planners can easily go over budget. And spending limits for the event itself need to be very clearly communicated to individuals. Even if they are, those individuals need to keep track of what they’re spending over the evening when they’d rather be enjoying the party. Lending out corporate cards and sharing card numbers to cover event spending also has its risks. It’s easy to lose track of where cards are, who is using them, and what’s being spent. In short, it’s difficult to keep complete control.

The problem with paying out of pocket

One alternative is to ask managers and employees to cover costs on the night and then sort reimbursements via expense forms. This generates hours of paperwork. It can be time-consuming and frustrating for finance teams to match up different spending limits for different managers or teams with the actual spending in front of them. Lost receipts and missing transaction information slow the process down further and may mean that employees can’t claim back for the meal or taxi that had previously been agreed with them. This leaves individuals out of pocket and can lead to a feeling of resentment. Even when claims are processed on-time and in full, staff are still left to cover bills over the most expensive period of the year. To summarise – paying out of pocket isn’t a smart solution for anyone.

An unexpected way to save

Swapping corporate credit cards or paying out of pocket for pre-paid cards is an often-overlooked way to help everyone stick to their budgets. For office party organisers, using a pre-paid card means they can’t go over the agreed budget. Pre-paid cards also give planners a real-time view of their own spending via an app or web console. That means they don’t need to worry about keeping notes manually. It’s all captured in one place as they purchase.
And issuing pre-paid cards to managers and employees for the event itself means that everyone can relax and concentrate of having a great time. They’re no need to keep a running tally of drinks orders, they simply use their card as they would a credit or debit card. If they need to check how much they’ve spent, they can do this in a few taps via the app. And there’s no risk of overspending for the company – employees can only spend what’s been topped up on their card.

New year benefits

The additional bonus of using pre-paid cards is the reduced paperwork come January. Employees simply take a photo of their receipt as they make a purchase, so all the transaction information is captured on the night. No more saving receipts and sending them to the finance team at the end of the month. And the finance team get a real-time viewing of spending. They don’t need to wait for credit card statements to come in. Everything is captured in their expense management platform which can be integrated with their accounting software. So, hours of admin can be swapped for a few clicks at the end of the month.


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