At the end of a year like 2020, it’s tempting to forego the work Christmas party altogether. After all, many office workers haven’t seen their colleagues for the better part of a year. What’s another day?

But we’d argue that Christmas parties have never been more important. This is a time to see your co-workers, toast the end of a trying year and unwind and reset before 2021.

In the wake of Covid, your Christmas party will look a little different to how it’s looked in past years (smaller team-based events and activities are this year’s major trend). So, if you need inspiration, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite Christmas party ideas.

Bomba

The rooftop: outdoor parties are unsurprisingly a popular option this year. And unlike our friends in the Northern hemisphere with their snowy white Christmases, we’re fortunate to have warm and sunny end-of-year office parties. Bomba’s rooftop is an ideal spot for an open-air Christmas party – especially if you’re a small team. It’s bookable (email events@bombabar.com.au), is easy to get to, and has great city skyline views.

103 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
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Thornbury Picture House

The private cinema: want to really push the boat out? How about booking out an entire cinema for your team? Due to current Covid-19 requirements, the Thornbury Picture House can only accommodate 20 people for private hire (it’s usually 57) but it’s still a great option. Why not whack on a Christmas flick, order some food (courtesy of Umberto’s, around the corner) and get stuck into some wines and cocktails? Afterwards, you can head out on to High Street to keep the party going. Best get in quick though – according to owner Gus Berger, “we already have a Christmas group watching Die Hard.”

802 High Street, Thornbury

Half Acre

The boozy long lunch: there are a few options at this beautiful South Melbourne restaurant, bar and events space. If you’re just having a team meal, Half Acre’s bottomless brunches and lunches are a good choice. $69 per person gets you all the food you can eat and as many cocktails – classic or design-your-own – as you can handle. If you want to hold a larger gathering, you can book out the space.

112 Munro Street, South Melbourne
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Pepe's Italian & Liquor

The one that’s near good bars for kicking on: as many of us can attest, a lot of the time, the best part of the Christmas party happens at the bar you go to after the party. Or the one you go to after that. Pepe’s, with its newly jazzed-up outdoor Italian terrace, cocktail towers and big bowls of pasta, is a great Christmas party choice in its own right. But when you consider its location in the CBD near a stack of good kick-on bars, it becomes a no-brainer. Book here or email info@pepesitalian.com.au to enquire about a large booking.

275 Exhibition Street, Melbourne

Maniax Axe Throwing

The steam blower-offer: throwing axes at wooden targets is super satisfying and a great way to let your feelings out. Pick up that axe, pretend the target is the embodiment of 2020 and hurl that hatchet with all the strength you have. It’s something that will really bond the team together.

19-21 Russell, Abbotsford

Patient Wolf Distilling Co

The unusual experience: if you’re looking to do something that’s a bit more original than just booking a venue and slapping a tab on the bar (not that there’s anything wrong with that), why not take a gin masterclass at Patient Wolf? The 45 minute class comes with a G&T on arrival, a rundown of the on-site distillation process and a guided tasting flight of three gins. When you’re done, you’ll want to linger at the bar. Gin masterclasses recommence on December 5. Enquire here.

34-36 Market Street, Southbank

The Espy

The beach party: a lot of Christmas parties this year are hybrids, starting with a park or beach picnic before moving to a booked venue in the evening. And if that’s the way you’re going to do it, then the way to go is a day on the sand at St Kilda Beach followed by a jaunt across the road to The Espy for dinner and drinks.

11 The Esplanade, St Kilda
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Moon Dog World

The brewery: a lot of breweries are walk-in only right now, which is a bit risky when you’re planning a party. But Moon Dog World encourages bookings, so it’s the ideal brewery pick. The big open space, crowd-pleasing food and there’s-something-for-everyone beer range make this one a great option. Check here for more information.

32 Chifley Drive, Preston

Morning Market

The picnic: booking a Christmas party is a hard task at the best of times. Throw in reduced venue capacities, social distancing guidelines and a workforce that’s been spread near and far; and it becomes downright dastardly. No wonder so many offices are just keeping it simple with a picnic this year. If that’s the plan, then Morning Market, Andrew McConnell’s latest cafe-grocer hybrid, should take care of the sandwiches in your picnic basket. Not only is there a great range of sandwiches, we like the old-school salad sanga, but you can also pre-order picnic boxes on the online shop.

59 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy

Bartronica

The one with all the activities: this ’80s-themed gaming bar – which has an extensive range of arcade machines and heaps of retro game consoles – is available for hire. There’s nothing like looking back on the year over a cocktail and a game of Tetris. Plus, there’s even a Mario Kart room, available for private hire.

335 Flinders Lane, Melbourne

Mr Wow’s Emporium

The easy game: bocce’s having a bit of a moment in Melbourne. You can play at Pepe’s and Crown’s Yarra-side pétanque pop-up (which is basically French bocce). But Mr Wow’s is this town’s original bocce bar. It’s not the biggest space, so it isn’t suited to a large party, but if your immediate team is looking for a good activity then this is a good way to go. Book here.

97B Smith St, Fitzroy
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Arbory Afloat

The obvious choice: yep, we get it – unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last five years, you’ve probably heard of Arbory Afloat, the ginormously popular bar on the river. But it’s so big for a reason. It’s typically quite hard to get a seat here, so you might be discouraged from trying to book a party. But if you’re open to going off-peak, perhaps during the day in the middle of the week, then a Christmas party here is still possible. Make bookings for up to 20 people here or email afloat@arbory.com.au for larger booking enquiries.

2 Flinders Walk, Melbourne
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