Businesses adapt for staff Christmas parties on P.E.I.

·2 min read

Some businesses on P.E.I. are adapting to current public health measures as planning for staff holiday parties picks up steam and groups look to celebrate in a physically distanced manner.

And some businesses are reaping the benefits. East Coast Art Party in Charlottetown said half a dozen companies have already booked an evening.

"I think people are looking for a different and fun way to create something Christmassy that people get to take home," said Len Currie, co-owner of East Coast Art Party.

He said about 20 people are able to fit into the large space where they will follow step-by-step instructions to complete a piece of art.

Under the current rules and without formal approval, no more than 20 people from different households can get together.

Steve Bruce/CBC
Steve Bruce/CBC

Physical distancing is still expected to be maintained, even among work colleagues.

"Traditional Christmas parties might have everybody, sort of, packed into maybe a back room or like a house party or something and this way people can get out — there's lots of room in here," Currie said.

Cancellations

The Red Island Hospitality Group said it is seeing a shift; larger parties that were booked last year are being cancelled as businesses make other plans.

"We actually had every weekend booked — every Friday and Saturday from the last part of November till right up till Christmas Day," said co-owner Jeff Sinnott, about John Brown Richmond Street Grille, one of the restaurants operated by Red Island Hospitality Group.

"There's basically four weekends that were booked a year ago. Now, half of them are cancelled."

Steve Bruce/CBC
Steve Bruce/CBC

Sinnott said smaller groups are booking, as they are able to have up to 20 at a table. Companies are also scheduling two parties, with different groups of staff getting together instead of the whole company.

He has also heard some larger groups are skipping the parties altogether and investing in gift cards for staff instead.

Sinnott said the big parties of last year could have had live music, dancing and up to 140 people — but nothing like that will be taking place this year.

"To have a party, they actually want a party. They want to, you know, dance and have fun," Sinnott said.

"What we're doing now is just the meal portion — the party side of the party just isn't happening."

Steve Bruce/CBC
Steve Bruce/CBC

During her weekly pandemic briefing, P.E.I. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison said they are getting operational plans for holiday parties with up to 50 people.

Even if those parties are approved, Morrison warned, they won't be typical holiday get-togethers.

"We would encourage businesses and organizations to maybe consider some alternatives … and to avoid the mingling that we would normally be having during these Christmas functions," Morrison said.

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