10 Ways To Throw an Amazing Office Holiday Party

Updated September 29, 2023

Throwing occasional parties for your team is a great way to promote positive company culture and allow everyone to have fun as a group. Many employees look forward to holiday parties at the end of the year as a way to relax and celebrate their accomplishments from the year. If you're thinking about planning the next holiday party for your workplace, you can make it even more exciting by incorporating a range of fun activities and ideas.

In this article, we share some work-party ideas that you can use to plan a successful holiday party with your team.

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Why are holiday parties for work important?

Scheduling time for group events like office holiday parties is an important part of building a strong team and promoting a healthy workplace environment. Structuring time to socialize and have fun on special occasions helps to promote a positive work-life balance and allows employees to release the stress that builds up over time.

It also allows employees to get to know one another outside of their specific role in the company. People from different departments and teams can learn more about each other, which can lead to better working relationships overall.

Related: What To Wear To a Holiday Work Party

10 holiday parties for work ideas

Here are a few activities and ideas to consider using for your next office holiday party:

1. Coordinate a scavenger hunt

Designing a scavenger hunt is an affordable and simple way to engage your entire team in an activity. Consider starting out your office holiday party by giving out a scavenger hunt of items around the workplace that attendees can find through the course of the party. Have employees use instant cameras to take silly photos, collect stamps or complete a fun task at different stations around the office. You can use a general scavenger hunt template or adjust it to give each item a holiday theme.

Related: 17 Benefits of Team Building for Your Organization

2. Collect goods for charity

Hosting a food, clothes or toy drive at your holiday party is a great way to engage your team while making a positive impact on the community. Consider having an ongoing charity drive for a few weeks leading up to the holiday party for work, giving your team time to generate excitement or compete for which department can bring in the most goods. Tallying up the amount you donated at the end of the party can help motivate your team and unite them over their shared good deed.

3. Hire an entertainer

Consider making your holiday party for work stand out by hiring outside entertainment for the event. Having an entertainer can give employees extra motivation to attend so they can enjoy free high-quality entertainment. Consider hiring people in fun costumes that employees can take pictures with or coordinating with card dealers to set up a mock casino where guests can play cards. Other ideas for office holiday party entertainment include:

  • Comedians

  • Bands

  • Singers

  • DJs

  • Magicians

Related: What Is a Fun Workplace? (Top Benefits and How To Create One)

4. Offer a variety of games

Create a schedule of festive holiday-themed games to keep your employees entertained at all times. It's a good idea to have a combination of scheduled and ongoing games that people can join or leave throughout the party. You can take classic games and add a holiday theme to help the party feel fun and festive without having to spend time explaining complicated gameplay. For ideas, try including some of these games and activities:

  • Ugly holiday sweater contest

  • Holiday charades

  • Pin the carrot nose on the snowman

  • Holiday movie trivia

  • Giant Jenga

  • Guess the holiday song

5. Give out prizes with a raffle

Give employees at your next holiday party for work something to look forward to by offering prizes that you'll announce at the end of the night. Ideas for ticket distribution include giving everyone a raffle ticket, awarding extra tickets to people that win games or having employees bring a can of food to donate in exchange for a raffle ticket. Depending on your budget, include some useful small items alongside a more expensive gift as the main attraction. Here are some examples of holiday gifts to include in your raffle:

  • Gift cards

  • Mugs

  • Paid time off

  • Holiday socks

  • Blankets

  • Tickets to an event

  • Smartwatches

  • Tablets

Related: 7 Fun Team-Building Activities for Work

6. Volunteer together

Cultivate a sense of community by including a volunteering activity in your holiday party for work. You can do this by traveling off-site or by organizing a project that everyone can complete together on-site.

For example, you could have your team work together to create simple fleece blankets to donate at the end of the night or create holiday cards to send to deployed military members. Including a volunteer event in your holiday party gives your team a shared activity to bond over while encouraging them to embrace the giving spirit of the holiday season.

Related: What are the Benefits of Volunteering? 10 Reasons to Volunteer

7. Host a unique gift exchange

Gift exchanges are a classic event for holiday parties at work. Try adding a creative twist to a classic gift exchange by incorporating a theme or developing a unique format for the exchange. Divide your employees into secret gift-exchange pairs, have a baked goods swap or play guessing games to determine who gets which present. During the gift opening, come prepared with a few extra presents to ensure everyone has something to open.

Related: 35 Ideas for Your Work Gift Exchange

8. Decorate cookies

Set up a cookie decorating table where attendees can listen to holiday music and talk while they create designs with frosting and sprinkles. Prepare plain sugar cookies in fun shapes like stars, pine trees, candy canes, gingerbread men and snowflakes, then set up a frosting station with a range of colors and decorations. You can have your employees take their own cookies home or trade them with one another throughout the party.

9. Create a potluck feast

Have each of your team members sign up to bring their favorite holiday dish and host a potluck over the lunch hour. You can provide a few snacks and drinks and have employees decide what else they want to bring. Create a sign-up list with different categories to make sure you have an even distribution of sweet and savory dishes, with options for people who have dietary restrictions.

Related: 35 Creative Team Outing Ideas

10. Set up a photo booth

Use wrapping paper, lights, and other festive decorations to create a photo-booth backdrop where employees can take pictures together commemorating the party. Your team can have fun playing with festive props and posing in small groups while waiting for the camera timer to flash. You can provide employees with a digital link where they can view all of their photos, create an office holiday card with the pictures they took or have a printer set up so they can take them home right away.

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Tips for hosting a work holiday party

If you want to be sure that your next holiday party at work is a success, try implementing these basic tips into your planning process:

Related: How To Plan an Office Party

Ask your team for input

Give your team the party they want by asking for feedback about the party. Create a survey to learn what kinds of activities your team enjoyed in the past and which ones they want to see in the future. Ask for ideas on the party theme or the types of favors to give out. Consider having your team contribute to a shared playlist to choose the music for the holiday party.

Be inclusive

When planning your holiday party, remember that people on your team may celebrate different winter holidays or not celebrate at all. In addition to activities based on specific holidays, include some secular winter-based activities to ensure everyone feels included and comfortable.

Related: Inclusive Culture: 5 Ways To Foster Inclusivity at Work

Select a fun theme

While a general holiday theme can still make for a fun holiday party at work, having a unique, specific theme can generate extra excitement among your staff. Having a pajama party, an ugly sweater party or a similar theme can get your team members more involved and help the party feel more special compared to regular work get-togethers. Classic holiday movies or even holiday songs can also make great party themes.

Incorporate new activities

Keep your team engaged by offering new activities compared to previous holiday parties. If possible, reflect on past parties and think about what activities you've already done. Make small changes to annual activities to keep them exciting, and try to include a few completely new games or crafts on the schedule.

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