Bosses are going ahead with Christmas parties for staff despite the economic downturn - but they are cutting budgets by up to 50 per cent, venues reported yesterday. With freewheeling expense accounts a thing of the past, firms are bargaining hard to get as much fun as they can for their staff for as little cash as possible - with requests for dancing venues increasingly popular. Wan Chai restaurant Tango Martini's bar manager Andy Smith said firms had cut back their party budgets by up to half but there was no shortage of bookings. Those previously willing to spend $800 a head were looking at half that. 'This time they are looking for more value,' Mr Smith said. 'It's very hard for us to put anything costly on the menu. People want cheaper wines so they can still have two bottles. And they will cut out the starter and only have a main course.' Lan Kwai Fong Association chairman and restaurateur Richard Feldman agreed companies were more price-conscious, spending just $200-$400 a head on food. 'But there is another force working in the economy - trying to raise people's morale,' he said. 'For instance, we are getting a lot of requests for dancing, with people trying to lighten-up. It's a tough time, so firms want more bang for their buck - if they are going to do it, they want to do it right and give everyone fun.' Mr Feldman said there was a growing distinction between staff parties and those held for clients. 'This year people want office parties to be outrageous fun. It used to be that at 10pm you would have to bring out the oranges - now it's bring out the flaming orange vodka shots.' A spokeswoman for recruitment firm TMP Worldwide said it knew most people 'felt down' so it had decided to hold a large staff party similar to previous years. But on the client side it had scaled down past lavishness.