I know it feels like summer just ended, and it is still 85 degrees outside, but now is the time to start planning for your office holiday party. You need to decide if you will have it in the office or at another venue, and make your reservations soon, before all of your first choices are booked.
Every office is different, budgets and rules vary. You need to consider the size of your office, the office culture and your available resources when planning your holiday event. Not everyone in the office will be thrilled by the same ideas, so try to appease at least a majority of people with the type of event, and add elements that will hopefully engage the hard-to-impress remainder.
Here are some ideas to spark your brainstorming process:
- A lunchtime potluck sometime in December, is fun and has lots of great food.
- Reserve a private room at a local restaurant and buy dinner for each employee and a guest. It works best is when you have room to move around and mingle.
- Pick a local charitable cause and spend a normal work day volunteering for that service with your coworkers. Afterwards you can take everyone out for dinner and drinks to talk about how good it feels to give your time to something positive.
- If you have a remote office reimburse your employees for going out to dinner. You can set a dollar amount if you would like.
- Everyone can bring in food and do a white elephant gift exchange. You can make different variations on it each year, such as the gift has to be something you already have or something you want to re-gift. It keeps it interesting and pretty funny.
- A very nice, fancy dress-up Christmas party the night before Christmas Eve, and give Christmas Eve and Christmas day off.
- Larger companies can have separate parties by department with a cocktail hour, a nice dinner, dancing, and door prizes. You can even have on-site child care during the party.
- Catered lunch parties with a sit-down meal just as a thank-you for a year of hard work.
- Instead of a work Christmas party, have a mandatory day of fun, and go to the Christmas markets together.
- Rent the top floor of a super hip oyster bar for the entire staff and their plus ones. Offer unlimited free drinks and fancy tapas. This quiet and intimate venue allows people to chat and enjoy the company.
- If you have the room, have everyone and a guest over to your house on a Saturday night. Hire servers, bartenders, and a car service for those who get a little too festive. If you have a piano hire a professional piano player. Everyone can gather around and sing holiday favorites.
- An evening affair at a nice hotel or banquet hall. Fully catered, open bar, door prizes ranging from board games to flat-screen TVs, laptops, Wii’s, and nice iPods. You can include caricaturists, casino tables, and exchange chips for more door prize tickets. Short on speeches and long on dancing and music. DJ and dance coordinator included, or a live band with swing lessons.
- Rent a room at a race track. Dress as Santa and hand out $10 bills to the employees so they can gamble with someone else’s money.
- Rent a box at a stadium for a sports event. Have noise makers, hats and other swag available for the staff. Serve a buffet and have an open bar.
Your holiday party should be a way to lift everyone’s spirits and show them you are no Scrooge, you’re grateful for the work they put in for the company and their happiness is important to you. Remember to be inclusive with these parties, know your company culture and make sure nobody feels underrepresented. It’s also nice to have the spouses and significant others involved in these parties, as it’s one of the only times employees get to combine their two lives.
Good luck with the planning and we hope it’s a smash!
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