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Death of the office party: Shunned in favour of low-key celebrations

  • Over 40% of British adults prefer festive celebrations at home to an office party (10%)
  • 77% of guests expect hosts to provide low or no-alcohol alternatives
  • Over half (54%) expect vegan and gluten-free options
  • Diageo and First Dates’ Maître d’ Fred Sirieix have created The Good Host Guide to help navigate the biggest hosting questions this season

The festive season is fast approaching and new research from Diageo, the global leader in beverage alcohol including Johnnie Walker, Baileys and Guinness reveals our expectations about what makes a ‘host with the most’ are evolving along with how and where we choose to host celebrations.

Office parties are on the way out in favour of low-key gatherings at home, with only 10% of people saying work gatherings are a preferred way to celebrate. The traditional dinner party is also in decline, with casual get togethers at friend’s houses now more than twice as popular as a formal dinner party (18% vs. 42%).

The findings also reveal new rules on what to serve up for guests. Classic turkey dinners and mince pies are being shunned in favour of dishes that cater to everyone’s unique tastes. For those throwing a festive party this year, over half (54%) of people expect hosts to provide vegan and gluten-free food options. Similarly, over three quarters of people (77%) expect hosts to offer a range of low or no-alcohol alternatives, with almost one in five (18%) of respondents planning to drink less this festive season – rising to almost one in four (24%) among those aged 18-34.

Despite the increasing popularity of staying in over the festive season, more than half (54%) of British adults admit they find it hardest to keep on top of their drinking at these types of events. Topping up drinks (28%) and free pouring rather than using measures (28%) topped the list of reasons it’s difficult to keep track, meaning a good host has an important role to play in helping guests keep tabs on their consumption.  

To help hosts plan the perfect celebration, Diageo has teamed up with Fred Sirieix, host of First Dates and one of the UK’s most renowned Maître d’s, to create The Good Host Guide – a resource to help anyone planning a festive celebration this year tackle their hosting dilemmas. Grounded in research on people’s expectations of a modern-day host, the guide helps navigate the biggest decisions when planning an event, from creating the perfect ambiance, to ensuring guests can keep track of what they are drinking.

Commenting on the Good Host Guide, Fred Sirieix said: “For me, a great celebration is not just about what you serve, but also about how you make people feel, both during and after the event. One of the golden rules in restaurants is to keep track of how much your guests are drinking, offering plenty of water and keeping everyone well-fed. But at home, this can be tricky, so the Good Host Guide includes advice on how to be a responsible host and create an amazing atmosphere for your guests.”

Aileen Keyes, Head of Alcohol and Society for Diageo Europe, said“Say goodbye to small talk and too many tipples, the days of the office Christmas bash are numbered. But the good news is, we know how to host an amazing event elsewhere. From getting creative with colourful non-alcoholic cocktails to providing delicious, vegan-friendly finger-food - the Good Host Guide is packed with tips to help party-planners create a truly enjoyable experience for all guests this festive season.”

 Top tips for being a responsible host:

  1. Avoid top-ups: topping up glasses and drinks before they’re finished makes it hard for guests to keep track of how much they’ve consumed and can risk leading to excessive drinking.
  2. Serve food: serving up plenty of food throughout a celebration is crucial as it helps slow the absorption of alcohol into the body. If you’re not dishing up a full meal, go for snacks with a good balance of protein, fat and carbs.
  3. Plan some activities: have some interactive fun planned as part of the celebration, games that don’t revolve around alcohol mean the focus is shifted away from just drinking.
  4. Get creative with non-alcoholic cocktails: offering tempting no alcohol options like a Seedlip and tonic means guests are more likely to space alcoholic with non-alcoholic drinks throughout the night.
  5. End the night right: make sure there is a designated driver amongst your guests or organize a cab home for anyone that needs one.

About Diageo

Diageo is a global leader in beverage alcohol with an outstanding collection of brands across spirits, beer and wine categories.  These brands include Johnnie Walker, Crown Royal, J&B, Buchanan’s and Windsor whiskies, Smirnoff, Cîroc and Ketel One vodkas, Captain Morgan, Baileys, Don Julio, Tanqueray and Guinness.

Diageo is a global company, and our products are sold in more than 180 countries around the world.  The company is listed on both the London Stock Exchange (DGE) and the New York Stock Exchange (DEO).  For more information about Diageo, our people, our brands, and performance, visit us at Visit Diageo’s global responsible drinking resource,, for information, initiatives, and ways to share best practice.

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