Throwing an annual office holiday party can be an amazing way to show your team you appreciate them, build company morale and boost employee engagement.
While they're designed to be a fun evening of celebration, not everyone is as enthused about the annual office party. More than 50 percent of employees in one survey say they dread their annual office party, and a majority of employees skip it. But there are in fact ways to create an event that employees look forward to—and even feel valued at.
Ensure this year’s office holiday party is memorable for all the right reasons. Take time to plan a unique celebration that fits your company culture. Get input from your team on what the party should look and feel like. Use these four fun and creative holiday office party ideas as a launch pad, then keep reading for tips to create a celebration your employees are sure to enjoy.
Four Fun and Creative Holiday Office Party Ideas
- Daytime Destination
The office conference room isn’t many people’s idea of a fun venue, and not everyone is eager to spend a night off (and perhaps spring for a babysitter) to hang out with colleagues. This year, consider treating your employees to an afternoon away from the office. Take them to a lively destination, such as a bowling alley, arcade, skating rink, comedy club, mini golf course, or sporting event, that puts festivity at the forefront.
- Catered Meal
Humans have been sharing meals for centuries. Eating together not only nourishes your team with delicious food, it can serve as a social glue to connect them. Whether you’re throwing a big bash or gathering employees for a family-style meal, they’ll appreciate a catered lunch or dinner. Moreover, studies suggest meal sharing between colleagues boosts interoffice collaboration. Some companies even close down early and wine and dine employees for an afternoon.
- “Build-Your-Own” Bar
Want to treat your employees to a more DIY-style meal? Pick a food theme and offer a bar with a wide selection of toppings. Most people are familiar with salad and taco bars. You could also make nachos, paninis, burgers, hot dogs, or ice cream sundaes, or top waffles, crepes, donuts, cookies, or cupcakes. And as a bonus, build-your-own bars can work at any time of the day and be added to nearly any celebration.
- Quirky Holiday Party
Many companies hold an annual holiday party in December, but you don’t have to. The winter holidays are busy enough for most people. There’s a unique holiday for nearly every day of the year. Pick an obscure or quirky one that reflects your company culture, and use it as a theme for your venue, food, decorations, and activities. Here are a few to consider: Word Nerd Day (January 9), Bubble Gum Day (the first Friday in February), Tweed Day (April 3), or National Get Outdoors Day (June 9).
How to Make Your Holiday Party Unforgettable
Once you decide on a theme and venue, here are some ways to make the party more enjoyable and meaningful for employees:
- Don’t forget the day after
Whenever possible, hold night-time bashes on evenings where you and your employees don’t have to work the next day. If that’s not an option, consider starting later the next day to allow employees the rest they need.
- Provide on-site childcare
Only 21% of companies in one survey allowed families to attend their annual holiday party. If your party is after hours and not a family-friendly affair, take some of the stress off your employees with children by providing childcare.
- Don’t make alcohol the main attraction
While creative cocktails can get the party started, most office party mishaps include alcohol. If you want to provide alcohol at a company event, be aware of the potential pitfalls and liabilities of employee overindulgence. At a minimum, check that your company’s insurance policies cover serving alcohol at company events, and be sure to provide plenty of interesting non-alcoholic beverage options. Also consider other ways to keep your guests safe, such as limiting the types and number of available drinks and providing free transportation home.
- Incorporate giving
Generosity benefits more than recipients; it makes givers feel great, too. Invite your team to help your company pick a charity, and encourage everyone to bring a small donation to the annual party. It could be a toy for a local child, non-perishable goods for a food bank, or gloves or socks for a homeless shelter. Holding a raffle is another great way to come together for a cause. Sell tickets and draw names for a few coveted prizes, then donate the proceeds to charity. Just make sure giving is 100% optional and anonymous so your employees do not feel pressured or forced to give.
- Set Up a Photo Station
Help your employees remember your amazing event by hiring a professional photographer and gifting your employees with professional portraits. If that’s not in the budget, decorate a selfie station so people can create their own mementos.
With a little creativity and planning, you’ll create an office holiday party that reflects your unique company, and which your employees look forward to year-round.