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Contractors & FreelancersCOVID-19Small to Medium Businesses

Covid-Safe Annual Events

By October 22, 2020February 16th, 2021No Comments

Planning your company annual event might be the furthest thing from your mind at the moment, with on-going disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic it’s hard to get into the festive spirit. But ‘tis nearly the season, and it could be the pick-me-up your team needs right now.

Virtual work party

You can, of course, spend your annual event budget (£150 per person – that’s per person, not per employee, so family members can be included!) at any time of the year, but many companies choose to arrange events in December to mark Christmas and New Year in the UK.

This year with the Covid-19 pandemic, your usual knees-up down at your favourite pub or restaurant might be a bit difficult. With the possibility of local or national lockdowns and forced business closures, 2020 events demand a particularly unusual level of flexibility! But we have a few ideas up our sleeves to help you make the most of your annual event budget this year and bring some much needed cheer to your team.


Small To Medium Business Annual Event Ideas

Lock-in At The Local

If lockdown restrictions aren’t too severe in your area, and your team is 6 employees or fewer, you may well be able to have an annual event that resembles your usual Christmas Party. Think about supporting other local small to medium businesses. Can you book out a small restaurant, for example? 


Get Outdoors

If activities are more suited to your team you could plan an outdoor event, such as taking your staff to an outdoor adventure park for some team building, zip-lining or Segway adventures. Be aware that you may have to split into smaller groups if the Rule of 6 still applies at this time.


Host A Zoom Party

If getting together in-person just isn’t possible, then it’s the internet to the rescue. We’ve all become more accustomed to online meetings, events and even celebrations in the last few months, and there’s no reason you can’t host your annual event online too. A bit of outside-the-box thinking will take the awkward edge off the zoom party, here are a few ideas:

  • Host a wine/gin/beer tasting party – send a selection to each team member’s home and hire a host who knows their stuff to guide you through it
  • Send snacks – arrange for fancy restaurant takeaways or a box of bespoke treats and drinks to go to each person
  • Arrange online multiplayer gaming, or go traditional with Bingo, crafting/creative challenges and Sharades – be sure to include some awesome prizes to be sent out, online vouchers work well and can be distributed via codes immediately
  • Try an office Secret Santa, and open the gifts during your virtual party
  • Host a virtual pub quiz


Contractor and Freelancer Annual Event Ideas

As a contractor, freelancer or sole trader you might be used to having your annual event with just you and your significant other. And while you might not get to go out-out, there are some exciting ways to use your £150pp budget at home and away too. Here are a couple of suggestions:

  • Hire a chef to come to your home and cook you a luxury meal
  • Have an at-home-spa day, many beauticians will come direct to you for a day of pampering
  • Treat yourself to a fancy restaurant meal delivered and rent a movie online
  • Book a night at a hotel, order room service and treat yourself to a bottle of champers


How Does It Work?

As previously mentioned, you are allocated £150pp (inc VAT) to spend tax-exempt, technically partners and immediate family members may be included. So if you’re a contractor who has a partner and two children at home, you could spend up to £600 tax-exempt on a lovely event for the family. Typically at large company Christmas parties, partners of employees are also invited – this will still be the case if your annual event plans are a little different this year.

Remember, £150pp (inc VAT) is an exemption, not an allowance.

You may claim back the VAT for any funds spent on an employee, but not for a director.

If you have a great idea for an unconventional annual event this year and you’re unsure if it’s suitable for the exemption, consult your accountant before you put any plans into action.

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