Working in Finland

Christmas parties in Finland

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It’s Christmas Party time! This is the start of the season during which companies in Finland organize Christmas parties for their employees. This is is a little survival kit on Christmas parties in Finland for you from us.

Notorious Christmas parties 

Back in the day office Christmas parties in Finland (known in Finland as pikkujoulut, little Christmas) were notorious. Generally one could expect that way too many people got way too drunk. Too much drinking usually resulted in people learning too much about their coworkers and their bosses in midnight confession sessions. Sometimes it may have resulted in witnessing or being subjected to different types of inappropriate behavior. Thus employees didn’t always greed the invitation to an office Christmas party with unreserved joy.

In our Vappu blog post, we discussed Finnish drinking habits and changes that have occurred in them during the last decade or so. These changes also correspond with changes in office Christmas parties in Finland.

Christmas parties these days

With Finns consuming less alcohol than before, office Christmas parties in Finland have also changed. Christmas parties these days center around good food, good entertainment, and just being together with coworkers, rather than focus on the quantity of alcohol being served.

The amount of money companies spend per participant changes according to the general financial situation. In good years companies spend more money than in bad years.  Often Chrismas parties include a dinner somewhere combined with different types of entertainment. Companies have become increasingly creative in organizing the entertainment. Some companies may take their employees to the theatre or to a concert, some might hire a stand-up comic, and some may go to an escape room. Some companies do not organize large evening parties at all, but rather take their employees out for a Christmas lunch instead. Despite this variation, the most common types of office Chrismas celebrations still exclude employees’ partners and children.

Celebrating Christmas with colleagues and clients

It’s not enough that you’ll be invited to one Christmas party each season. You’ll most likely end up with several invitations. 

In addition to attending the office or company party, many people go out to Christmas lunch with a smaller circle of colleagues. The employees organize such lunches themselves and everybody pays for their own way. If you are thinking about organizing such a lunch, you better start planning it as soon as possible. The holiday season is an extremely busy time of the year for restaurants. People make Christmas lunch reservations really early. You can’t just suddenly two weeks before Christmas come up with an idea to organize a Christmas lunch and expect to be able to make a reservation in any half-decent place. Restaurants are full.

Restaurants have their Christmas lunch menus. These can be buffet lunches with a Christmas theme or the restaurant may have a Christmas lunch menu from which to order. Thankfully these days restaurants are creative with their Christmas food. Finland has its own traditional Christmas dishes, but nobody wants to eat those same foods for days on end. It’s enough that you have them on Christmas itself and then quite a few days afterward as leftovers. 

Finns do not normally drink alcohol at lunch. At these longer Christmas lunches, people some times do drink alcohol but even they normally restrict their intake to a glass or two of wine.

You may also receive invitations from clients and business partners. These might not be invitations to parties held in the evening, but invitations to early afternoon glogg (glögi, mulled vine) parties, Christmas lunches, or Christmas porridge events. 

Christmas parties & working hours

A couple of weeks ago we wrote a blog about working hours. In it, we mentioned that there are job tasks and events that are not working hours. Office parties are such. You are not on the clock when you attend your office Christmas party. 

The same goes for the lunches. The Working Hours Act stipulates that if an employee’s workday is longer than 6 hours, he/she is entitled to a break. If the employer allows the employee to leave the workplace during that break, that breaktime is not working hours, but the employee’s own time. So, if you head out to Christmas lunch with your colleagues, remember to clock out! 

There’s an exception to this rule, though. If your boss has assigned you a task or tasks that you need to do at the party, that time can count toward working hours. If you at all unsure whether you are on the clock or not, ask your boss. 

Christmas party season

Office Christmas parties in Finland have become increasingly enjoyable as the amount of alcohol consumed in them has decreased. People just simply pay less attention to alcohol and more attention to the quality of entertainment and food.  

If you nevertheless find yourself in a situation where alcohol plays an oversized role, you can play Cinderella and leave before the clock strikes midnight.  

The mission of Finnwards is to help you build a uniquely Finnish life for yourself and your family. Our online tutorials will give you the information and tools to you need to succeed in your professional and private life in Finland: https://school.finnwards.com/


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