It is a sure sign that the festive season is upon us when we don our reindeer ties and mistletoe earrings and head to the pub with our colleagues.

The office Christmas party is one of the highlights of many corporate calendars - but this year just 19pc of businesses have organised some kind of festive get together.

According to the Landmark Group 38pc of businesses have cancelled their party entirely - and 18pc will host a gathering on Zoom.

But is the office party all it's cracked up to be?

For the majority, the answer is probably yes, said Charlotte Bate, director at Mad HR consultancy.

Ms Bate, whose offices span Norwich, Ipswich and Chelmsford, said: "In a year like this it is especially important to engage with colleagues and chat in an environment outside that of the businesses' needs. Christmas parties not only add a social element but also allows people to chat to colleagues they may not speak to on a regular operational basis."

She suggested that not only should businesses rearrange parties until it is safe to do so, but should also look at holding online events this December.

"Work is hard enough as it is without feeling lonely and isolated - especially in an increasingly remotely working world. I've seen some businesses doing cocktail classes and other fun activities which I think is a really good way to mix it up."

One business which is doing exactly that is estate agents Arnolds Keys.

Partner Jan Hÿtch said: "This Friday evening we are holding a virtual chocolate tasting; we have sent a parcel of locally-made chocolates from Carousel Chocolates in Aylsham to everyone who wants to take part, and we will come together online to taste them together. Later in the month we are holding an online Christmas sing-song.

“For obvious reasons, we are unable to have our usual gathering of all staff at Christmas this year. We recognise the huge value of bringing people physically together, particularly in a firm with different branches, and we plan to hold a party as soon as we are able to next year – not because it’s Christmas, but because we can."