Between all your meetings and never-ending projects, the holidays can sneak up on you. Even if you’re a little stressed about coming up with a great holiday party idea for your office, it may be easier than you think. No matter your budget, there are plenty of fun holiday party ideas to ensure your employees feel appreciated and have a good time. Here are 20 office holiday party ideas to set the right upbeat tone for the next year.
1. Unwrap presents with oven mitts: Trade in the white elephant gift exchange for a Secret Santa gift-opening race. Let people take turns opening their gifts while wearing a giant pair of oven mitts. Set a time limit to get more laughs.
2. Wine pairings: Pair a holiday catering package with wine and, voila, you have a cozy wine dinner. Some caterers, like Kitchen Millie in Boston, offer wine pairing ideas, so don’t be afraid to ask your caterer for suggestions. Arrange tasting stations (seafood, beef, and pasta) so that your employees can work around the room, trying the Merlot with the bolognese and Pinot Noir with the pork tenderloin.
3. Christmas “Family Feud”: This holiday party idea celebrates the heyday of the game show “Family Feud.” Divide your employees into teams and let your CEO “Santa” play the role of Steve Harvey, the host. Send out a questionnaire beforehand to come up with clever topics. The winners get a prize.
4. Give back: Plan a donation drive for a charity that your company supports. 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.
5. Graffiti murals: Set up a massive black canvas in an open area, supply your office with paint cans, and let them loose. You can suggest a theme or leave it as a free-for-all. If the final product turns out better than expected, hang it up back at the office or donate it to charity.
6. Live magician: If you want to make a splash but a live band is too expensive, consider booking a magician, caricaturist, or psychic reader for an hour to entertain your group. You decide if it would be best for them to work on a stage or walk around the room performing tricks while people socialize.
7. Movie-themed dishes: Celebrate old holiday movies with this party idea: plan a catering menu around your favorite food moments in film. 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 a Banoffee pie of bananas, cream, and toffee.
8. “And the award goes to…”: This holiday party idea shines a light on your coworkers’ small but heroic deeds. It’s time for the person who’s always making coffee, or laughing the loudest, to get an award. Ask for nominations ahead of time and make a big production of the ceremony.
9. Giant snow globe: This holiday party idea sets your coworkers up for the best selfies ever. Rent a giant prop like this inflatable snow globe to ensure your office photos are ones to remember. Just make sure you can top it next year.
10. One layer at a time: Instead of handing out gag gifts, wrap your team’s presents in layers of gift wrap. Allow each person to take a turn unwrapping just one layer. Whoever unwraps the final layer keeps the prize.
11. Hire carolers: A surprise caroling performance during dinner is sure to put everyone in the spirit. If employees want to join in on the performance, all the merrier.
13. Holiday animated GIF pictures: Need a way to outdo your wacky holiday office photos from last year? It won’t be hard with this holiday party idea. Animated GIFs make great party favors and setting up a station is easy with the right equipment. Best GIF wins a prize.
14. Rock climbing class: If your office is drawn to adventurous activities and you have a budget for it, an indoor rock climbing class can be a great interactive activity for your group. You can pass out gifts after defeating the rock together.
15. Costume contest: There are plenty of directions you can take with this holiday party idea. Invite everyone to dress up as Santa. Or, come as your favorite Christmas prop—like Rudolph or an elaborate tree ornament.
16. Christmas slide show: Ask your team to submit office holiday photos or video clips a few weeks prior to your office party. Then surprise them at the event with a thoughtful slide show of everyone’s favorite memories. Your team will be touched.
17. Build-your-own dessert bars: Build-your-own dessert bars are one of our favorite ideas for holiday events and parties. They’re fun and customizable for different tastes. Let your guests play with their food for the night by way of a cookie dough bar, cupcake-shots station, or frozen yogurt station.
18. Guess who Santa is: An employee plays Santa for the evening and provides clues to his or her identity everywhere. This holiday party idea is similar to “Murder Mystery” in that employees will spend all night trying to solve the mystery.
19. Gingerbread house contest: Set out the gingerbread pieces, icing, and decorations. Depending on the size of your space, people can work individually or in teams.
20. Beer tastings: Jump on the craft beer craze and plan a special happy hour for your office instead of a formal holiday party. Ask a local brewery to help you pair their beer with delicious catering.
A little time and imagination goes a long way toward planning a great holiday party. Plus, you’ll leave your guests feeling merry and bright all night.
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