It's time to sort a cracker Christmas party, with a stay safe message in mind

ALTHOUGH it may be a frightening thought, time is rapidly running out to choose a venue for your work Christmas party.

Yes, it's been a troublesome year, and we're working from home for the most part, but with the lifting of restrictions life will surely return to normal.

To ensure you get it right, do a quick hang-out survey of your co-workers to discover what celebration type they prefer.

The other item on the initial agenda is whether it will be open to families or just employees. On one hand it is great to invite everyone and really makes the event inclusive, especially for those who have children and no longer get invited anywhere.

Once the type of party and the venue have been established the next Christmas cracker is budget. Is it the company's shout or is there a social club fund which contributes? Or is it an everyone-for-themselves scenario? Are drinks included? And what will the menu be? Buffet? Sit down? Canapes? Liquid?

Talk to the venue about what they can offer and perhaps secure a deal for a set menu or for a food-and drinks combination. Remember if you don't ask, you don't get.

The key is that everyone enjoys themselves (not too much) and that everyone gets home safely

So if you want to have a night of fun rather than a night of work mixed with disturbing reindeer and creepy guys in red suits, then you need to put in some thought. If you are hiring a venue just for the occasion then the options are wide open.

You could have music, anything from a DJ to a string quartet, party games, a photo booth, or a secret Santa.

If you decide to have a night at someone's home, then the menu gets simpler. You could ask and/or take some comfort food, and party all night long with old favourites like chocolate crackles, honey joys, and even fairy bread.

No party is worth its salt these days without cupcakes, so pop some on the table, along with frogs in a pond, sausage rolls and lastly cheese straws for the kids. Puff pastry and cheese is a magical combination. Get creative with the name and shapes you make them into and they can suit any party theme - from sailors knots for a pirate party, magic wands for a fairy party, and even dinosaur fossil bones for a dinosaur party.

Whatever shape or size your festive celebrations take, the key is that everyone enjoys themselves.