How to Throw an Awesome Office Holiday Party
When the weather gets colder, the prospect of the holidays keeps our spirits up! With any holiday comes a celebration, especially near Christmas when people gets time off. Before parting for family time, it can be nice to boost workplace morale with an office party! Here are some tips for throwing a great holiday celebration for your office to close the year on a positive note!
Why have an office holiday party?
We’ve all seen holiday specials on TV where someone attends a terrible office party and everything goes wrong. Work parties are often depicted as uncomfortable and stuffy. Some offices don’t throw Christmas parties, or if they do, they don’t break the ‘bad office party’ stereotype. If you are a business owner, don’t let the stereotype discourage festivities. There are many reasons to celebrate together as an office before the end of the year!
Particularly for large businesses, your colleagues might not have much opportunity to speak with one another. Even if they work together regularly, they might not know anything about each other outside business relations. It’s important to keep workplace relationships professional, but it’s also great for office morale to let people bond in a social setting, rather than a business context. You see these people every day at work, so you shouldn’t be total strangers!
Holiday parties are a great opportunity to acknowledge goals that were reached throughout the year. Letting people know that their efforts are appreciated can be motivational!
Setting the tone for the New Year
A cheerful office party at the end of the year sets the tone of the office for the New Year ahead! Sending people off on a festive note before they enjoy time off lets them feel more positive about returning to work. A good attitude will have everyone prepared to face the coming year!
Make your party stand out!
There are many ways to avoid the ‘bad office party’ stereotype. By combining classic holiday elements with creative thinking, you can throw an event that makes your colleagues look forward to office parties!
Consider a theme
Themes can be a good way to transition from a business atmosphere to a social one. You don’t have to go overboard and make everyone dress like reindeer; if the theme is too silly, people won’t want to participate. Consider a fun but simple classic, like an ‘ugly Christmas sweater’ party. Themes aren’t always necessary, so use your judgment and consider the people you work with. If you’d rather keep the dress code classier, the fact that the event is a ‘Christmas party’ might be theme enough!
Always offer food at your event! After all, what’s a holiday party without festive food? Make it clear whether the food will be an actual meal, or simply appetizers and treats. If your business is small, you might consider a potluck, but for larger groups, catering can be best. Offer a variety of things, and consider unique options that your employees might not often get. Is there a gourmet bakery in the area that makes festive bite-sized cupcakes, or a local restaurant that only serves a popular appetizer this time of year?
Party favors and prizes
If you choose a theme, prizes for the most festively dressed person can be fun motivation to participate. Prizes can also be turned into a game. If your office is small, award prizes for playful reasons that will make people laugh. For example, give the person who sneaks their slippers on under their desk the prize for ‘best shoes’. You don’t want to offend anyone or turn it into a popularity contest; it’s all for fun! If prizes are too complicated, try party favors! Give everyone a bag of Christmas cookies at their place setting or a useful trinket for their desk. Party favors are small, particularly if your office is also giving Christmas presents or bonuses, so concentrate on creativity.
Sometimes a simple social gathering is best for very large work parties. If the budget allows, hiring entertainment, like a band or DJ, can be fun for a big group. For smaller parties, consider centering the event on an activity. If your colleagues are outdoors-y maybe they’ll enjoy an afternoon hayride followed by dinner and warm drinks? Maybe bowling or a comedy show would be a fun, simple outing?
Along with the activity and dress code, decorations set the atmosphere. For a big classy party, winter wonderland decorations with lots of sparkle give things a fancy feeling. At a more casual event, novelty Christmas plates and classic holiday characters make people feel comfortable and ready for the holidays.
Get creative with your ideas! If you’re having trouble, form an event committee or ask colleagues for their input. You don’t want something elaborate enough to stress people out near the holidays, but thinking outside the box can make your party a fun success!
Should your office party involve alcohol?
Enjoying a glass of wine or an alcoholic beverage is often a part of celebrating. Your office party can still be an appropriate affair with alcohol present. After all, you’re dealing with adults who worked hard all year! Making alcoholic drinks an option for your colleagues sets a casual tone and communicates that you are there for enjoyment and not business.
Of course, drinking is never mandatory and no one should ever feel pressured to partake. You can decrease the risk of over-consumption by setting the tone yourself as the business owner or party organizer. Enjoy one or two beverages casually with your food, and then stop. Setting the pace like this, particularly if you’re in a leadership position, encourages other people consuming alcohol to follow suit. Make sure that you offer alternatives for those who can’t or don’t drink. Give people basic options, like water or pop, and also consider something more fun and festive, like eggnog!
Things to avoid
- Pressuring people to participate: Some people might feel uncomfortable dressing up or playing silly party games. Of course, things are more fun when people take part, but remember that these things aren’t for everyone. It’s better to let people do things voluntarily than to make them feel obligated to do something they don’t enjoy!
- Too much office talk: It’s almost inevitable that business chat will take place at an office party, but watch out that office politics don’t ruin the friendly atmosphere. This is where entertainment or activities come in handy. If people are having fun, they’ll be too distracted gossip!
- Over spending: Office parties can be great morale-boosters, but don’t break the bank! You want the event to be enjoyable, not a burden. Stay in your budget and find creative ways to keep the event cost efficient.
Event planners, like the ones trained here at QC Career School, work hard organizing events for people all year. Planning an office holiday party is a great opportunity to organize one for yourselves!