London sheds glitz for hol­i­day par­ties

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE - By CLARE HUTCHI­SON in London

Team bond­ing is the theme for Christ­mas par­ties in London’s fi­nan­cial dis­trict this year as man­agers tone down the an­nual knees-up and la­bel it as staff de­vel­op­ment.

Fear­ful of a pub­lic back­lash if they re­vived the op­u­lent fes­tiv­i­ties of the pre-cri­sis era, some banks and fi­nan­cial firms are opt­ing for smaller, quirkier events that can be ac­counted for as a learn­ing ac­tiv­ity rather than just a staff perk.

Trea­sure hunts, cock­tail­mak­ing, go-kart­ing and wine tast­ing are some of the things com­pa­nies are lay­ing on for em­ploy­ees.

Be­fore the 2008 cri­sis, a spe­cially erected mar­quee in London’s Ca­nary Wharf of­fered Christ­mas par­ties with sit-down din­ner, free-flow­ing cham­pagne and a band on stilts for banks such as Lehman Brothers and HSBC.

“Ev­ery year, bud­gets go down,” says Pas­cale Miller, an event ex­ec­u­tive at London-based Pre­cipuus Events, which or­ga­nizes par­ties for London firms such as HSBC Pri­vate Bank.

“But be­cause it’s part of team­build­ing and be­cause it’s of­ten a learn­ing ac­tiv­ity, they can mark that off in the bud­get as some­thing sep­a­rate from pure en­ter­tain­ment.”

In­for­mal venues such as pubs are be­ing cho­sen over ball­rooms, and the dress code is more sports­wear than black-tie.

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