At the end of a busy year, an amazing company holiday party is great way to reward your employees for all their hard work – but not all company parties are created equal. We’ve all heard the water cooler whispers: tales of company parties that end in tears or parties where the food and drink forgotten. It’s enough to make anyone nervous about planning a holiday reward for the office, but if you follow our tips, you’ll have the perfect company holiday party coming together in no time!
Whether you throw your event at a cool location or hold the party at the office, here are our best 15 tips for keeping your holiday parties fresh, fun, and one your employees will talk about around the water cooler for all the right reasons.
Choose An Awesome Location
You don’t have to decorate cubicles with boughs of holly and hold your holiday party in the comfortable confines of the office. Plan a holiday party adventure and branch out! Plan a private party at a museum or find a unique venue that your team will find exciting. Getting out of the office is always good for morale and holding your holiday party off the beaten path is a quick way to your employees’ hearts!
Photo Booth Madness
Show your company pride by creating a DIY photo booth. Build a funny backdrop, hand out props and encourage your teams to take photos all night. Hire a photographer or find an employee with a passion for taking photos — either way your group will enjoy having something tangible to take away from the event.
The concept may sound scary but singing is actually one of the most effective team building exercises. Get a karaoke machine for your holiday party and watch employees get creative, step out of their comfort zone and build trust. If your employees are weary of karaoke, make it optional, but find some team members who will really champion the activity and get people involved. You could even head to a karaoke lounge to pack a double punch of awesome and host a fun event outside the office!
Give Out Some Serious Prizes
Everyone loves a good prize. So, if you are planning on having some fun contests (e.g. best ugly sweater) make sure the prizes are quality. Old company t-shirts and mugs won’t cut it. Your employees will feel valued if you invest in super awesome prizes. Think: gift cards, subscription boxes, or even an extra day or two of vacation time!
Learn a Skill as a Team
Holding a fun and unique workshop during your holiday party is a definite win. Learn how to make ice cream. Hold a mindfulness seminar. Learn a crazy or weird skill. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it gets your teams laughing and enjoying themselves. Schedule the workshop for the beginning of your holiday party and then your employees will have the rest of the time to socialize, laugh, and relax.
If a big holiday bash isn’t in the cards for your company, try volunteering as a group for the holidays. A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers survey found that 88% of millennials “gravitate towards companies with pronounced Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs, and 86% would consider leaving if their employer’s CSR no longer met their expectations.” Volunteering is great way to give back to your community and bond as a group. You can always throw a simple holiday cocktail party or dinner afterwards!
Themed Parties for the Win
A good themed party can add excitement to any event, but don’t go too over the top. Develop a simple overarching theme that the entire company will enjoy. If you can develop a theme that is born out of your company history and culture, that’s even better. Don’t be afraid to ask your employees for input, too!
A Gift Exchange That Isn’t Terrifying
Secret Santas and gift swaps can often conjure up anxiety and fear in employees, but they don’t have to. An awesomely planned gift exchange, with simple guidelines, can be a big win. Try planning a book exchange, where each employee gives a copy of their favorite book to a colleague. If you focus on meaningful gifts – that are both affordable and memorable – your teams will be more apt to participate!
Introduce Friendly and Fun Competition
Games are always a good idea at holiday parties. Take your event to the next level and introduce some cheeky competition. From scavenger hunts to renting cool games like pinball, competition is great for boosting energy and helping your team bond. Under the guise of the holiday party, they probably won’t even know they’re becoming a stronger team!
If your employees have a long commute, try compensating them for transportation to and from the party! Offer a ride service or plan the party around when your employees would already be at work.
Whether you are going to serve alcohol, wine, punch, soda or water, a fun way to mix it up and involve everyone is by creating tasting bars. If you have a wine or beer tasting, don’t forget to pair it with a tea or coffee tasting for people who don’t want to drink alcohol! Tip: Be sure not to make drinking the complete focus of the party, so everyone feels included.
Sneak in Some Team Building
Holiday parties are an AWESOME time for stealthy team building. Start the party off with some icebreakers, or play some group challenge games to get everyone laughing and working together. The great thing about team building during a holiday party is that all of the company is together! This gives employees who may not normally work together time to get to know each other. Because it’s a party, employees may be more open to participate and it won’t feel like team building at all!
Invest in the Planning Process
The best holiday parties are ones that the company took time to plan. Have a budget and plan out even the smallest details. The more invested you are in the event, the more your employees will appreciate it – and the better time everyone will have!
Get Everyone Involved
Don’t forget to get your employees involved. They will feel more connected to the holiday party if they’re helping plan it. This can help you figure out logistics, like whether to offer childcare or invite family members. Plus, the party will mean more to everyone if they’re involved.
Ask Your Teams for Input
If you don’t know what type of company party your employees would enjoy, just ask them! Do a company-wide survey and ask for ideas and suggestions about what to do for a holiday event. Have a brainstorming session before the holiday season starts. Don’t forget to get input after the event to find out what worked and what didn’t so you’re ready to roll come next year!
It’s never too soon to start thinking about your company’s holiday party! Let us help plan an event that’ll end the year with a bang – and get your team excited about what’s to come in the new year! Send us an email at [email protected] or give us a ring at 1-800-210-9676.