The true cost of the office Christmas party

Article date: 16 December 2002

The office Christmas party may be a traditional part of theFestive Season – but it could cost British business over £66million, according to new figures out today.

Independent research by Norwich Union Healthcare shows that withthe festive season about to get into full swing, more than onemillion office workers have taken time off due to over indulgenceat a Christmas party.

That adds up to £66.5 million lost from the British economybecause of office party hangovers, based on CBI calculations ofabsence costs.*

However the overall cost to the nation in employee absenceduring this year’s Christmas party season is half that oflast year.

Norwich Union Healthcare’s ‘Hangover Bill’study reveals that a quarter of us will be going to at least onework-related party this Christmas – with one in fiveattending two, and 11 per cent attending FIVE OR MORE.

But the spirit of Scrooge lives on among some sectors of Britishbusiness, as 21 per cent of workers won’t be going to asingle work-related bash.

The study also reveals that men drink twice as much as women atChristmas parties – with the average male consuming 11 unitsof alcohol (equal to five pints or 11 glasses of wine) compared towomen’s five units (five glasses of wine).

Other findings in the Norwich Union Healthcare ‘HangoverBill’ study include:

  • Over half (51 per cent) tell the truth to their boss whenringing in to take the day off because of festive overindulgenceat work
  • Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) use the ‘flu’ as anexcuse, with 18 per cent blaming food poisoning
  • Women are more likely than men to be telling the truth whenphoning in with an excuse
  • The average amount drunk at Christmas work parties this yearwill be seven units (ie seven glasses of wine, seven singlespirits, or 3.5 pints) – although 18% are planning to drinkno alcohol.

Dr Doug Wright, Clinical Development Manager at Norwich UnionHealthcare, said: “With statistics like this it is notsurprising there are so many people taking time off work becausethey have a hangover. On average, British office workers areconsuming twice the recommended sensible drinking levels.

“Such large quantities of alcohol in our bodies leads todehydration, the tendency for smokers to smoke more, loss ofappetite and increased consumption of unhealthy foods after theparty and the next morning.”

Regionally, the biggest Christmas works party revellers are inthe South East, London and the West Midlands, where five per centof workers will be attending SIX different events.

And according to the Norwich Union Healthcare research,workers’ favourite tips for avoiding a hangover are:

  1. Drinking lots of water before going to bed
  2. Eating a meal before going out
  3. Drinking a glass of milk to line your stomach before goingout
  4. Eating a kebab on the way home
  5. Eating full English Breakfast the morning after
  6. Have a Hair of the Dog, such as Bloody Mary, the morningafter

Press contact:

Jo Misson, Matthew Buchanan or Jane Wheeler at QBO on 020 73790304
Weekend Contacts:
Matt Buchanan: 07803 501 804
Jo Misson: 07887 777 731

Notes to editors:

  • Research by Taylor Nelson Sofres, who questioned 626 workingadults aged 16+ nationwide between 29 November and 1 December2002.
  • * CBI statistics 2001 visit CBIwebsite: http//
  • Norwich Union Healthcare is the healthcare arm of NorwichUnion and provides a range of private medical insurance and incomeprotection products to around 750,000 customers. It is one of thelargest providers of income protection and private medicalinsurance in the UK.
  • Norwich Union is the UK’s largest insurer offering acomprehensive range of long-term savings and general insuranceproducts.
  • Norwich Union’s news releases are available on the Avivaplc website at
  • A selection of images is available from the Norwich UnionNewscast site at

Members of the General Insurance Standards Council
Members of the Aviva group

Back to top