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Page last updated at 10:48 GMT, Wednesday, 3 December 2008
Crunch leads to Xmas party cut-backs

By Gurvinder Aujla
Newsbeat reporter

The work Christmas party season is just beginning, but for many it'll be far from festive. Companies are cutting back this year. Some party planners that organise lavish corporate celebrations have told Newsbeat bookings are down.

Some companies are scaling down on decorations and entertainment

Hardest hit are the banks and finance companies. Many have already cancelled parties.

Even the stars of Coronation Street have had the plug pulled on their celebrations.

But its good news for cheaper alternatives. A team from Marks and Spencer booked a karaoke bar in London for their celebrations.

Joy Cotterall organised the bash and said her top priority was keeping costs down for staff.

She said: "Karaoke is a cheaper option to have a fun time.

"We feel it is tough at the moment and everybody needs to have a fun time but money is tight for everyone and this was the best way for everyone to have a good time."

Scaling back

Lucy Claver is the team's manager. She explained that to keep costs down for her staff who are paying for the karaoke do, she paid for food and drinks to start the party off in her own home.
Person in Christmas hat
Some workers are resorting to planning their own parties

She said: "I wanted everyone to have a good time at Christmas and it wasn't going to be dependent on how much you are paid, so at least everyone could have some champagne."

Some party planners say they've seen evidence that bosses who are paying for parties are scaling back on hiring entertainment and decorations, or substituting sparkling wine for champagne.

Some companies though have been a little more creative this Christmas.

Advertising firm VCCP have planned an X Factor-style party for their do.

Boot camp

Managing Director Michael Sudgen said: "Last year we had a big knees-up but our budget is the same this Christmas.

"There is so much depressing news around that if you don't have a bit of a laugh people will leave."

The concept is simple, staff at the agency took part in auditions last week. Yesterday they reached boot camp stage.

Members of staff took on the judges' role and the winner will be voted for by staff at the party and will then sing for their colleagues.

Lou and Belle are taking part in the competition and they explained that the idea has united different departments: "It makes work fun, everyone is talking about it.

"There are posters up and everyone is getting into it whether they're on stage or not."

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