According to a new survey conducted on behalf of Musgrave MarketPlace, Ireland’s leading foodservice wholesaler, Christmas parties help to moost staff morale at work and also help with employee bonding.

The survey examining Ireland’s Christmas party habits revealed that 94% of those polled say a Christmas party helps with staff bonding and boosts morale, and that two thirds of companies will have a festive party this year.

The research was carried out online among 369 Irish adults aged 18+ and 254 restaurant and bar owners.

According to the study 37% spend up to €40 per person on their Christmas party meal excluding drinks. Over a third of party goers (39%) will fork out for their own Christmas party, while a further 28% will pay a contribution towards the event.

Dinner and drinks is a failsafe Christmas party option with over two thirds (67%) of businesses saying they will have dinner and drinks in a hotel or restaurant while one in five will opt to ditch the dinner in favour of drinks and nibbles. The survey also reveals that as a nation we love to dine out during the festive season with 38% saying they will dine out up to four times over the Christmas period in addition to their work party.

Christmas is one the busiest times of the year for the foodservice industry and it’s no surprise that planning is essential. A quarter of the 254 restaurant and bar owners polled say they plan their menu two months in advance with half putting on a bespoke menu for the party season rather than an a la carte offering. While traditional Christmas party food features heavily, 72% say they are adapting their menu this year to cater for new food trends. Booking early is advisable as over a quarter (26%) of those surveyed say October is the most popular time for bookings while 43% say their restaurant is fully booked up by November.

According to the Musgrave MarketPlace research, while a fifth of party goers would like to see more variety on the menu, just over half (51%) want traditional Christmas fare such as roast turkey and Christmas pudding on the menu. When it comes to the party tipple of choice, wine is the most popular drink with over a third (39%) opting for a glass of wine to get them into the festive spirit. 16% say champagne or prosecco is their Christmas drink of choice followed by beer (13%) and cocktails (11%).

Curbing the enjoyment, a quarter of those surveyed say they have to go to work the following day with 51% having noticed a colleague miss work the next day. Popular “day-after-party” food options include fast food or takeaways (45%), closely followed by chugging soft drinks (12%) and munching on crisps (10%).

Commenting on the findings, Desi Derby, Marketing Director, Musgrave MarketPlace, said: “Christmas is one of the busiest times of the year for the foodservice industry with a third of our survey respondents saying they will dine out up to four times over the festive period in addition to attending their Christmas party.

“The classics still reign supreme on Christmas party menus, this is no surprise to us as we plan to sell more than 100,000 turkey and ham portions this Christmas, with 51% of survey respondents favouring the traditional Christmas fare of roast turkey and Christmas pudding.

“The demand for gluten and dairy free options on menus continues to grow with just under half of restaurant owners planning to add these options to their set menu this year. This consumer driven trend means we have also noticed a surge in these products. Our ‘Free From’ category is growing at almost 40% year on year as well as sales of dairy alternatives in the form of plant-based drinks for example increasing by 40% this year. And of course, the trend towards alcohol-free drinks also continues, our current range allows us to offer our customers and consumers more choice than ever and sales are expected to grow by 180% this season.”

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