Tony Abbott.

Tony Abbott is keen to keep the Christmas party tradition going. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Tony Abbott might be taking to the public service with his sharpest set of pruning shears but has vowed to pay for grog and soft drinks for senior bureaucrats in his department every Christmas.

The Prime Minister has boasted of the $20,238 Christmas party he hosted for Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet staff and has even lashed his predecessors as Grinches by saying he was surprised a festive season bash for hard-working public servants at the department was not held regularly under the former government.

"As a consequence, the Prime Minister has established a new tradition of a special Christmas function that includes not only senior public servants in (the department) but also their spouses and children," read a response from the Prime Minister.

The response was given to the Senate via Eric Abetz following a question on notice from Penny Wong.

Mr Abbott, who marked his first hours in office by sacking three department heads, hosted 319 people at the December 8 party at the Prime Minister's courtyard at Parliament House.

The alcohol bill was just $3726, the cost of soft drinks $1139 and decorative lighting $52, while marquee hire set the taxpayer back $1242 and the food bill hit $13,130.

"The Prime Minister is very conscious of the demands that political life places on families: both for the politician but also senior public servants," the response said.

"The Prime Minister felt that it was important that there was a Christmas function held to thank senior public servants in his department for their efforts over the year and that their families be invited in recognition of the sacrifices they make.

"Also, the Prime Minister was constrained by the cost of available catering services in Parliament House, but endeavoured to keep costs at a reasonable level."

He super-sized his department with amalgamations when he came into power and going into the new year it had 2467 employees, according to a government spokesman.

Mr Abbott also held a function in December for Australian Public Service agency heads, the diplomatic corps and senior parliamentary staff in the same courtyard the following day.

A total of 386 people turned up to that one and the biggest cost was food at $17,100, followed by $3,680 of alcohol, $1260 for catering staff and $1,222 worth of soft drinks.