Mystery destinations, out of season celebrations and a company paying tribute to a former CEO who died in a plane accident are among Christmas parties planned by the country's biggest companies this year.

A Herald survey of 25 of the country's largest firms revealed a range of different soirees planned for staff - from family barbecues and drinks to more extravagant affairs.

The country's largest privately owned real estate company, Barfoot & Thompson, had a mystery surprise to rewards its employees, Vodafone was holding a party for 1,000 at Shed 10 on Auckland's waterfront tonight and Coca-Cola staff get their own, private showing of Christmas in the Park.

HR expert Tom O'Neill said as victims of cost-cutting measures over the last five years, festive work functions appeared to be bouncing back as a feature of corporate spending.

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"This year has been a really banner year, the last three or four years a lot of managers have had to be really tight on the purse strings and anything above and beyond core business had been cut."

MediaWorks spokeswoman Rachel Lorimer said the company thanked staff throughout the country for their hard work during the year.

"(MediaWorks) provide an enjoyable way for them to celebrate the many successes of the year with their colleagues."

Auckland Council was also treating its staff by department, at a cost of $35 per head to cover food, venue and non-alcoholic beverages, said spokesman Glyn Walters.

McDonald's said its head office celebration for 70 corporate staff would include a sit-down dinner, dancing and prize giving at a hired venue. Each franchisee would hold individual events.

Vector was holding smaller functions to cater for the varying hours of its staff.

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29 Nov, 2013 3:06pm
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"Having one larger function always meant that those staff on call, and there's a number of them, couldn't attend - this way, we can ensure that they are taken into consideration," said spokeswoman Sandy Hodge.

Others revealed modest plans.

"You won't find any rock stars at our Christmas parties, we're a low-cost operator and our budgets reflect this," said 2degrees internal communications manager Lucy Reed.

"This year we're knocking off early and heading down to the Empire Tavern for a few Christmas drinks with a DJ and band, starring one of our employees."

The company would also be paying tribute to former chief executive Eric Hertz who died in a plane crash with his wife Kathy off the Raglan coast in March.

"We'll also be reflecting on the people who got us to where we are today," Ms Reed said.

Auckland District Health Board had nothing planned for employees, but a spokesman said staff may take it upon themselves to organise something at their own expense.

PricewaterhouseCoopers bucked the trend of Christmas-time celebrations altogether and held its annual staff party mid-winter.

"We've got about 1,300 staff up and down the country and we have a large function for the staff once a year which we have in August or September," said partner Bruce Baillie.

"You can get better deals if you have it outside of the Christmas period. You get a bit more value for your money."


Survival guide
1. Pace yourself. This can't be stressed enough.

2. Don't say anything inappropriate about a workmate or to a work mate. You want to avoid a trip to the HR department on Monday.

3. It is almost never a good idea to hook up with a co-worker at drinks.

4. Avoid doing anything that could harm your "brand". If you are normally not the centre of attention don't create something for later generations to giggle over.

5. Have a good chat with your manager or chief executive but it is best not to ask for a pay review.