It’s that time of year again at the office! Holiday lights, pies in the break room, that end-of-year excitement... and boring holiday events.
The holidays are a time when everyone feels festive, and offices often want to share in that feeling. And any holiday party should be a quality team bonding experience. But the result is often a waste-of-money gift swap or a bad cookie plate. Or worse yet, some employees feel excluded if they don’t celebrate certain holidays or religions.
The holidays should be relaxing and fun, even if we're still at the office and not on vacation just yet. So, how do you breathe some life into the stale office holiday party, and make it as inclusive as possible? Here are some holiday office party (and holiday treat) ideas for teams of every size and budget.
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Have a Holiday Themed Potluck
A potluck is a chance for people to show off their culinary or baking chops — or, let’s be honest, how great they are at picking out tasty treats from Whole Foods. Take an afternoon to taste your coworkers’ wares and chat about anything other than work. Easy, relaxing, and delicious! Bring on the latkes and pumpkin pies, please. Or if your team likes a little healthy competition, why not a holiday food bake off?
Organize a Better Holiday Gift Exchange
We've all heard of Secret Santa and white elephant gift exchanges. They're classics for a reason! But it can be hard to buy a great gift for a colleague you don't know that well outside the office. Try asking gift exchange participants to submit a list of a few things they're into — think of categories rather than specific items. This way, people will feel more confident when shopping for a gift (within a set spending limit, of course), and more likely to get something they'll actually enjoy.
Have a Cookie Swap
Everyone loves holiday cookies! Instead of a gift exchange, why not have a cookie swap? Provide the recipes with your cookies as well, to bump the gifts up a notch — as well as provide people with allergy info.
See a Holiday Show Together
Why not do something different and go see a show as a group? Or for a more affordable option, perhaps that feel-good holiday movie that everyone’s been raving about? Even a comedy show, while not holiday-related, is a great idea for a team activity around the holidays.
Give Everyone a Small (or Big!) Holiday Gift
Whether it’s a small treat or something more substantial, everyone appreciates a gift! If you’re the head of your team and have the resources to give them a token of your appreciation for the past year, your employees are sure to get into the holiday spirit. Maybe consider some team swag (sweet sunglasses, anyone)? Even a small gift certificate to a great coffee spot goes a long way.
Okay, so this isn’t exactly a party idea. But, this time of year can be especially rough for those in need, so giving your time and support as a group during the holidays is a great idea. Serve a meal at a soup kitchen, or visit a children’s hospital and play with the kids. Not to mention, doing charity together helps build team morale and makes people feel good.
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Take ‘Em Out to Lunch
Can’t afford a big company dinner? Consider a holiday lunch instead. Lunch prices are often more affordable, and a welcome break to a work day. Hey, take off the whole afternoon for lunch while you’re at it!
Have a Holiday Happy Hour
Why not plan a casual holiday happy hour? If you can swing it, open a tab at a festive spot for your team. If that's too pricey for you, find a place with good deals, throw on a Santa hat, and relax with your team.
Make a Holiday Photobooth in Your Office
Take some construction paper and twinkly lights, and cut out a holiday scene for the background. Then, bring in funny props: elf hats, menorahs, fake snow, whatever! Leave the booth up in your break room for the whole month of December. Team members can take photobooth pictures with their phone and get creative with an office hashtag, or you can spring for a polaroid camera and post the hilarity around the office. You don't even have to go for a full holiday theme — bring in a company-themed photo booth instead.
Go Ice Skating
This fun activity brings everyone back to the holidays of their childhood. Can’t skate? Sipping hot chocolate and living vicariously through your coworkers that can is a great option.
Bring the Entertainment to You
Hiring a magician or comedian to come to your office may sound cheesy, but it’s a surprisingly fun change of pace. Too silly for your team? A story teller or inspiring speaker are also great options. If you live in a major city, you can also consider a fun tour company like Museum Hack to provide the entertainment.
Visit a Holiday Market
Instead of a party, take your team to a holiday market where they can sip cider and take in the pretty lights. Totally affordable, and a nice change of pace from the office!
Bring Your Team to a Holiday Cooking Class
Fun, different, and tasty! You can find a lot of group deals for cooking classes online, so keep an eye out and schedule ahead of time.
Have a Decorating Contest
Decorate your office door, or split cubicle rows up into teams, and see who comes up with the funniest or most creative winter scene.
Have a Holiday-themed Trivia Contest
This is a great way to get into the holiday spirit! Come up with a list of questions with the holidays in mind. Create teams for a little friendly competition and make sure you have someone keeping score. The questions could range from holiday movie trivia to holiday icons you don’t hear about often.
Keep in mind all the celebrations around this time like Kwanzaa and Hanukkah; this way the contest will be more inclusive.
The options for your office holiday party are endless - and affordable. Don’t hesitate to pick a few of these options and run with them, or add your own fun ideas.
Get creative and make your holiday party, event, or treat for your team better than last year’s. Your employees will feel appreciative and rewarded after a year of hard work.