Dec 01 2017
Lauren Hamer
6 Minutes to read

You’ve picked a date, secured the venue, and coordinated the catering menu for this year’s holiday bash. Now it’s time to decide how to entertain your guests. Planning an office party is a big responsibility, but don’t crumble under the pressure of trying to find something that exceeds expectations. A sprinkle of thoughtfulness, creative food, and surprising entertainment makes for a memorable event that will leave your guests feeling cherished all night long. No matter your budget, there are plenty of fresh holiday party ideas you can use to emerge an office hero. Need some inspiration? Here are 20 holiday party ideas to spice up your celebration:

Unwrap presents with oven mitts: Trade in the white elephant gift exchange for a Secret Santa gift opening race. Let team members take turns opening their gifts while donning a giant pair of oven mitts. Use a clock timer to make things even sillier and prepare for uncontrollable, infectious laughter.

Wine Pairings: Some caterers may advertise December holiday packages that include appetizer, main course, and dessert. Ask your caterer for wine pairing suggestions and voila, you have a cozy wine dinner.  Arrange tasting stations (seafood, beef, and pasta) so that your guests can work around the room, trying the Merlot with the bolognese and Pinot Noir with the crusted pork tenderloin.

Christmas “Family Feud”: Use this holiday party idea to play on guests’ nostalgia by turning your holiday party into the Family Feud set. Divide your guests into teams and let your CEO “Santa” play the role of Steve Harvey the host. Send out a questionnaire beforehand to drum up clever category topics and answers. The best team wins a prize.

Give Back: Plan a donation drive for a charity that your company supports or is close and dear to a fellow employee’s heart. Givewell.org is a good place to get started. You might even construct an Angel Tree and allow employees to choose an organization or person to treat this holiday season. Seeing all those donated gifts under the tree will warm hearts and remind guests of the generosity in the room.

Graffiti murals: Set up a massive black canvas in an open room, supply your guests with paint cans and let them loose. You can suggest a theme or leave it as a free-for-all. It’ll be fun to discover who has hidden artistic talents and who should stick to their day job. If the final product turns out better than expected, hang it up back at the office or donate to charity.

Live Magician: Live entertainment always makes things seem more dressed up and elegant. If you want to make a splash but a live band is too expensive, consider booking a magician, caricaturist, or physic reader to entertain your guests. You decide if it would be best for them to perform on a stage or walk around the room performing tricks while people socialize.

Movie-themed Dishes: Ramp up the holiday nostalgia and ask your caterer to create a menu centered around popular holiday movies. For example, roast beef is a nod to the roast beast in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, peking duck is reminiscent of the final scene in  A Christmas Story, and Love Actually fans will love banoffee pie.

Christmas Slideshow of Memories: Ask your team to submit a few nostalgic holiday-time photos or video clips a few weeks prior to your office party. Then, surprise them at the party with a thoughtful holiday slideshow that incorporates everyone’s most cherished memories and pastimes. Your team will be touched.

Set up the best holiday party selfies with a giant prop.

Giant Snow Globe: Use your holiday party idea to set them up for the best holiday party selfies ever by renting a giant prop like this inflatable snow globe. The perfect group photo will ensure this one is a party to remember. Just make sure you can top it next year!

Set up the best holiday party selfies ever by renting a giant prop like an inflatable snow globe. Click To Tweet

One Layer at a Time: In lieu of gag gifts, use just one Secret Santa-type gift like a crazy coffee mug or picture frame to play a harmless prank on your team by wrapping the present in layers of gift wrap. Allow your guests to each take a turn unwrapping just one layer. Whoever unwraps the final layer keeps the prize.

Hire Carolers: A surprise caroling performance during dinner is sure to put everyone in the spirit. If guests want to join in on the performance, all the merrier.

Order a food truck:  Don’t feel tethered to a banquet hall or rental facility. Would an ice skating party or dinner in a sculpture garden light up your crowd? Hire a food truck from a favorite local restaurant to take short orders and you can celebrate wherever you want.  

Holiday Animated GIF Pictures: Need a way to outdo your wacky photo booth entertainment from last year? It won’t be hard with this holiday party idea. Animated GIF images make the most modern party favors and setting up a station is easy with the right equipment. Best GIF wins a prize.

Liquid Nitrogen Dessert Station: Dessert becomes interactive with a liquid nitrogen station. Ask your caterer if they offer this as a service, as buying nitrogen and setting it up yourself would require time you don’t have prior to the event. This trendy food idea will leave your guest in awe as they personally freeze treats in liquid nitrogen. Anything from frozen cocktails to popcorn balls to ice cream is up for grabs.

Costume Contest: There are plenty of directions you can take with a costume contest. Reverse Santa means that everyone dresses up like Santa, promoting an evening of mystery since no one knows who’s really behind that white beard. Or, you can come as your favorite christmas prop — like Rudolph or an elaborate tree ornament.

“And The Award Goes To…”: Use this holiday party idea to recognize your coworkers achievements this year — albeit silly or sincere. It’s time for the coworker who’s always making the coffee, or always laughing the loudest to get an award! Ask for nominations or suggestions ahead of time and make a big production of the ceremony come party time.

Build-Your-Own Bars: Build-your-own bars are an ezCater favorite for events and parties. They allow for easy customization and they feed a crowd. Let your guests play with their food for the night by way of a hot cocoa bar, cookie decorating station, or a gingerbread making station.

Let your guests play with their food with a hot cocoa bar or a cookie decorating station. Click To Tweet

Guess the Santa: Let an anonymous employee play Santa for the evening and leave “clues” for the guests throughout the event. Similar to a holiday-themed “Murder Mystery”, employees will spend all night trying to figure out who’s missing in action, and who’s attempting deceit. Plus, this holiday party idea is a great way to incorporate team-building exercises into a night of holiday fun.

Gingerbread Contest: Gingerbread houses are the quintessential holiday activity. Set out the gingerbread pieces (or graham crackers if you want to keep things simple) and decorating goodies. Depending on the size of your space and the number of attendees, guests can work in teams or individuals. Ask your caterer if they can help with the setup and supplies.

Beer Tastings: Jump onto the craft beer craze and plan a casual night out in lieu of a formal holiday party. Engage the work of a local brewery and ask them to put together a tasting menu that coordinates with the food from your caterer. Your employees can sample a flight of local brews and take a crash course in home brewing.

A holiday party that entertains from top to bottom is one way your company can show appreciation for all the hard work this past year. We’re not saying you have to be a Clark Griswold, but a little time and imagination goes a long way towards coming up with a great holiday party idea. Plus, you will leave your guests feeling merry and bright all night.

Key Takeaways
  1. Your caterer can help with your holiday party ideas by incorporating festive food and drink pairings that champion the holiday spirit.
  2. Offices with a smaller budget should consider putting a fun twist on traditional gift giving ceremonies to spice it up.
  3. Interactive games, murals, and photo booths are a great way to encourage lively conversation and meaningful connections with coworkers.

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Written by:

Lauren Hamer

Lauren Hamer is a North Carolina based writer. When she’s not writing about money, career, or food, she’s still writing, usually creating killer resumes for job warriors or blogging on her personal site about disability topics.

Posted in: In the IndustryOffice Management

Tagged with: Catering, Events and Meetings, Office Management