1. Company awards
Roll out the red carpet and host a company awards ceremony for your employees — either in-person or virtually. You don’t have to dress in black-tie attire, but you can turn it into a fun production to get your staff excited to attend.
Company awards can go in several different directions. Consider making the celebration funny with silly awards such as the most likely to have the best water cooler topics, or hand out more serious awards. Stick with traditional awards such as years of service and top salesperson, or create unique awards for your company and industry.
Decide what type of award you want to give the recipients. Printed awards, trophies, gift cards or small swag items are all options.
When choosing the recipients of various awards, don’t overlook the strong but silent employees. The more outgoing people with the biggest personalities often stand out and get a lot of recognition. Find ways to recognize the quieter team members who work behind the scenes to help the company succeed.
You should also consider if you want the awards to be exclusive, with only a few people receiving recognition or if you want to give everyone some type of award. The latter can help everyone feel included and appreciated, encouraging camaraderie and teamwork.
2. Game day
If you want to focus on fun and team-building, a game day could be the ticket. Games help everyone relax, and they offer a mental break from the daily work grind. Several games promote teamwork, which can give you bonus benefits. Game ideas include office Olympics, workplace trivia, bingo or minute-to-win-it games. Another option is organizing a board game tournament or simply bringing in a bunch of board games and giving employees the afternoon to play whatever they want.
3. Food truck celebration
Providing lunches for employees is a classic way to show your appreciation for their work. For a fun twist on the classic catered lunch, hire a food truck or two for your celebration. Since food trucks sometimes have focused menus, check for food allergies and dietary preferences to make sure there’s an option for everyone. If you need more variety, consider reserving a private room at a local restaurant for a celebratory lunch.
4. Prize auction
If you’re thinking about handing out gifts to your employees, an auction offers a creative way to distribute them. Plus, everyone can pick what they want. Gather several items that your employees might want. A few ideas include:
- Company swag
- Local gift cards
- Gift baskets
- Extra vacation days
- Gourmet beverages
- Tickets to events or experiences
- Tech gadgets
Give everyone a set number of coins or fake bills to spend on the items. Then, auction off each item with the prize going to the highest bidder.
5. Scavenger hunt
Encourage bonding and get your employees moving with a scavenger hunt. Create a list of spots each team has to go to based on clues or a specific list of items. You might have them grab a token that’s at the location or take a picture of all team members at the spot.
To tie it to the success you’ve had over the past year, give clues related to major company events. For instance, you might choose the conference room where your team gave a pitch that landed the biggest new client of the year. The first team to complete the scavenger hunt is the winner.
Scavenger hunts can be done both in-person and virtually.
6. Group outing
Instead of holding the office party at work, plan a group outing at another location. The change of scenery can be refreshing for your employees. It can also feel more like a real celebration if you leave the office. Some ideas include:
- Escape room
- Mini golf
- Painting pottery
- Happy hour
- Laser tag
Take into consideration the interests and abilities of your employees. For example, axe throwing and laser tag might be difficult for people with mobility challenges. Getting suggestions from your team makes it easier to choose an activity that they’ll enjoy.
7. Decorating competition
Put your team’s creativity to the test with a decorating competition. You can choose any type of decorating with or without a theme. One option is to have each department create a decorative door display that shows the highlights of the department from the past year. If you’re wrapping your end-of-year celebration into your holiday party, you might invite teams to decorate for the holidays. Not only does it offer a break from the routine, but it also cheers up the workplace to make it brighter.
If your team is remote, you could do a cookie or gingerbread house decorating contest. Give employees a week or two to decorate with their friends and family, and then have them submit photos. The team can vote on their favorites.
8. Company retreat
If you have a bigger budget, a company retreat helps you celebrate the past year and gear up for the coming months. Company retreats can last a day or all week. Keep in mind that busy holiday schedules could interfere with participation if you’re planning the retreat for December.
Go into the retreat with specific goals, such as improving teamwork, solving a problem that held you back in the previous year or simply celebrating your accomplishments. Retreats usually strike a balance of work-related sessions and entertaining activities such as art projects, golfing or hiking.
9. Classes or workshops
Incorporating classes or workshops into your end-of-year celebration can give your team new skills that they can use in the coming year. Bring in a trainer to do a company-wide class, or let everyone pick a workshop or class that’s relevant to their position and cover the costs.
If you want to focus more on team-building than work-related skill building, look for a fun class. You might bring a baker to teach a cookie decorating class or offer a cooking or cocktail class to an entire team. These types of classes create an enjoyable setting and give employees time to bond and get to know one another. It can also be done virtually if your team is remote.
10. Talent show
Talent shows let your employees cut loose and show off their hidden talents after a year of hard work. People can learn more about each other beyond their work talents. You might find out your by-the-book accountant has a secret talent for singing punk rock. Keep the talent show flexible so everyone feels comfortable sharing as they prefer, from serious talents to silly, just-for-fun performances. Avoid forcing anyone to participate. Some people prefer to sit back and watch rather than take the stage.
If your team is remote, you could have your employees record themselves performing their talent and share with the team. The team can then vote on their favorite talent.
FAQs about end-of-year-celebration ideas
What’s the purpose of planning an end-of-year celebration?
Organizing a celebration helps you connect with colleagues and recognize the accomplishments you’ve achieved over the past year. It’s a way to relax and give your employees a fun way to spend time. You can use a year-end party to boost morale and show your appreciation for your employees.
How do you plan a year-end party at work?
Decide on your purpose for the celebration, and set a budget to help you plan. Choose an activity that supports that purpose, and choose a location that can accommodate that celebration type. Having a planning committee can make it easier to organize details including the date, time, decorations, food and other party elements.
How do you keep end-of-the-year parties interesting?
Knowing your employees well can help you choose a celebration idea that they’ll enjoy. Ask for ideas from your staff to make it fun. Hosting a celebration during the work day so employees get paid to party can get them even more excited about the party.
When should you hold the end-of-the-year party?
Most people’s schedules are busy at the end of the calendar year with holidays and family activities. You might wait until January when things calm down and there aren’t major holidays to look forward to. Another option is holding it at the end of your fiscal year if it’s different from the calendar year.