With the holidays right around the corner, and more employers ready to break out their party hats, chances are you’re starting to plan your office holiday party. Are you struggling to find a way to make it fun and unique? Or have you already resigned to hosting an office holiday party that seems strangely similar to the last umpteen years.
Don’t throw in the towel just yet. Blog 2 of our 12 Days of Christmas series has 5 great ideas for making this year’s office holiday party something to remember:
Whether you’re from the United States or abroad, sampling international fare and customs can always be an enjoyable time. What better time to explore a bit than your holiday party? Every nation has its own winter holiday customs, so see how many you can incorporate into your office holiday party.
If you have coworkers that have roots from other countries, encourage them to offer their own perspective of the holidays. You can also let all of your locally-raised coworkers pick out different countries to research and bring their own distinct flair to the party. This could be as basic or as extravagant as you and your coworkers want it to be.
On the basic side, bringing one or two simple traditions for the holidays from the country or culture would be enough to showcase the international flair.
Things such as a method for decorating the tree would do fine in this case. On the other side of the spectrum, if your coworkers want to go all out, encourage them to! Bringing a feature dish to the office holiday party, dressing in customary garb, and still including all of the other traditions would be a great way to feel like you’re immersed in other countries, all without leaving your office holiday party.
Gag Gifts or Door Prizes
Who doesn’t like some silly prizes? Use your office holiday party to lighten the mood a bit if people are feeling the crunch of deadlines. If you go with gag gifts, pick out things that are each coworker’s signature, and make a bit of a show of ‘gifting’ them the item in front of the group. You’ll have everyone rolling on the floor in no time!
With a healthy office culture, it’s usually pretty easy to pick up on your co-workers’ idiosyncrasies. For the guy who always shows up at exactly the same time each day, and departs as soon as the clock strikes the destined hour, think about a gift with time in it, perhaps a broken clock! And the coworker who constantly drinks the last cup of coffee? How about a coffee mug with a hole in it!
If your office is a bit too straight-laced for gag gifts, or if you’re struggling to find the best ideas for a few of your coworkers, consider giving out door prizes for your office holiday party instead of gag gifts. They can be just as wacky as gag gifts, or go a bit more mainstream and get coffee shop gift cards or cute desk adornments.
Incorporate a Special Cause
Does your company have a bit of an altruistic streak? If your coworkers are interested in giving back to the community, then you’d be quite validated if you incorporated a special cause to your office holiday party. There are two great ways to do this with your holiday party, and both are fairly easy and super fun!
The first option would be to have a donation drive for a charity, where you divide the office into teams and see which team can raise or donate the most funds in the weeks leading up to your office holiday party. A little competitive spirit around the holidays never hurt anyone (permanently), and it’s a great way to motivate everyone to participate and get people outside the company involved in the charity as well. There could be a tangible reward for the winning team, or just bragging rights. Either way, everyone wins since the charity is benefiting from the generosity of your company during the office holiday party.
The other option would be to take your office holiday party on the road. Go to a local charitable organization, and volunteer there for an afternoon. Here’s a few examples: working at a food pantry in the area, helping stock shelves or serving meals to those in need; visiting a children’s hospital to bring some cheer to the kids who are in the hospital over the holidays, you could read books or sing carols, or even play board games; or heading to an animal shelter and helping the full-time staff care for any pets that have not been adopted before the holidays.
Ugly Sweater Fashion Show
Here’s a pretty easy way to ‘dress up’ your office holiday party. Host an ugly sweater party! Anyone who’s set foot in a thrift store will easily remember that there is no shortage of ugly sweaters year round, but especially near the holidays. This is when they’re going to good use, so thrift stores usually rotate out stock to make room for things that are in demand.
Chances are, you’ve either attended or at very least heard of an ugly sweater party. There’s not much to the theme: find the ugliest sweater possible and wear it to the party. You can take things a step further since it’s the holidays, and put the restriction that it needs to be a festive, yet completely and utterly ugly, sweater.
If you’re thinking you want to do more than just have everyone wear completely embarrassing attire, turn it up a notch. Turn it into a fashion show, or even a contest! Have everyone line up and strut their stuff on an impromptu ‘catwalk’ and show off what they found. Have a panel of judges who score the sweaters on a few different categories, or just have a vote where everyone picks their favorite three sweaters. Have a token award for the winner(s), maybe a lint roller or something similar!
Finally, you could include a decorating contest with your office holiday party. Like the other options, there are a couple different ways to go about using this idea as well.
One way to host a decorating contest would be to provide the staff with desk or cubicle decorating supplies (or if you’re low on budget, encourage them to use their imagination and purchase their own). Publicize a start date and an end date for decorating, and then have a panel of judges who critique and score each work of art before the office holiday party. Announce the victor during the party.
Another option would be to have the main theme of the office holiday party revolve around decorating. Either a small arts and crafts task such as decorating a miniature tree, or a more delicious option. Decorating gingerbread houses or sugar cookies is always fun, and even if the decorating doesn’t go to plan, it still tastes fantastic!
So think about what your coworkers might enjoy for this year’s office holiday party and start a checklist. Are they outgoing or more reserved? Would a showcase of their decorating skills or sweater-hunting tactics be welcomed, or rebuffed? With the extensive range covered by these five options, there’s something for every office atmosphere!