Christmas ham, turkey, pavlova and sparkling grape juice - a traditional festive feast is what most of us indulge in at the end of the year. Just imagine serving up a Christmas dinner or lunch to a few hundred people. Most businesses will treat their staff to a meal or outing to celebrate the end of the year - but it all comes at a cost. So how much do our local councils spend on their Christmas parties at the end of the year? Reporter Zoe Hunter breaks down the budgets of each of the region's councils to see how much is spent on final festivities for the year.
The amount of money local councils spent on Christmas parties last year has been revealed.
In the lead up to the local elections, NZME asked each district and regional council how much they spent on end of year functions in 2018.
Tauranga, Rotorua, Bay of Plenty and Western Bay of Plenty councils altogether spent at least $21,000.
Catering for 280 staff, Bay of Plenty Regional Council was the biggest spender.
The Bay of Plenty Regional Council spent $9684 on two events - $7670 on the main council event and $2014 on a councillor and executive leadership team dinner.
No alcohol was purchased at either event.
Corporate general manager Mat Taylor said the regional council contributed $7670 to a staff-organised social club event at its Whakatāne office in lieu of food.
The cost for 280 staff, at $17.50 each, totalled $4900.
About $1520 was spent on bus hire to get staff from Tauranga and Rotorua to Whakatāne and back again and it cost $1250 to hire a marquee and a port-a-loo.
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Taylor said the costs for last year's function were higher than usual because renovations to the office building prevented the event from being held there and required marquee and toilet hire.
"As we are an organisation that operates across the Bay of Plenty with offices in Whakatāne, Tauranga and Rotorua, a bus was provided so that staff could travel to and from the event safely and sustainably," he said.
Another $2014 was spent on a councillor and executive leadership team dinner for 31 people - $1953 for catering and $61 for decorations.
Taylor said the budget for this year's Christmas party was up to $2300 for a councillor and leadership team function and $17.50 per head towards a staff social club function.
Tauranga City Council's social club organises a Christmas party each year for its members at a budget of $25 each.
A separate event for 25 councillors including their partners, the chief executive and mayoral support staff cost $35 per person for a "facilitated activity" and a meal worth $27.50 per head.
The budget for this year's Christmas party was $25 per team member.
Mayor Greg Brownless said the council's spending was reasonable.
"It is part of the cost of running an organisation and if it is keeping within the bounds of reason, it's fine," he said. "It is normal for any company or business to have a Christmas party."
The Western Bay of Plenty District Council's festive spending came in at $9680 for a Christmas Eve lunch at the Barkes Corner office for 220 people costing $44 each.
A separate event for 41 elected members and senior management cost $1865.
Western Bay of Plenty mayor Garry Webber said the festive function was part of the remuneration for councillors.
"To spend a bit of money on a Christmas function is entirely appropriate given the hours councillors and staff put into the community," he said. "We try to keep it reasonable."
The Rotorua Lakes Council spends about $3000 on a festive alcohol-free staff lunch in the council's cafeteria for 150 people.
Any leftovers are donated to the annual Rotorua combined churches Christmas dinner or a charity such as Love Soup, which feeds the homeless.
Elected members from the rural and lakes community boards and the council's Te Arawa partnership board Te Tatau o Te Arawa have a separate function, usually a dinner.
Last year's function cost $1938 for 38 people.
Mayor Steve Chadwick said the staff Christmas lunch was a small but important acknowledgement of their hard work.
"The elected members Christmas dinner is very low key and, like the staff function, is an opportunity to acknowledge what's been achieved during the year," she said.
"It was held at my home last year and we are always very aware of cost."
Mount Maunganui Residents, Ratepayers and Retailers Association member Mike Williams said most employers would spend about $25 to $35 on staff Christmas functions.
"There would not be that many places of work that didn't have a Christmas function for their staff. It's a pretty ordinary thing to do."
Matua Residents Association chairman Richard Kluit did not have an issue with the councils spending money on their end-of-year festivities.
"Every other business would have some form of Christmas celebration or will give something to their employers," he said.
Council Christmas spend
Bay of Plenty Regional Council $9684
Tauranga City Council $902
Western Bay of Plenty District Council $9680
Rotorua Lakes Council