15 Can’t Miss Holiday Ideas to Celebrate Your Employees

Holiday theme party

There are many ways to express your appreciation to your agency employees for what they’ve done during the past year – for you, one another, and your clients.

Here are some options you might consider if you want to host a party:

Party Theme Possibilities

1: A Christmas Story: Close your office down early and screen the holiday movie for your staff. You can serve foods and beverages inspired by the film like “Chinese turkey,” meat loaf, mashed potatoes, red cabbage, Coke (in glass bottles), root beer floats, and fudge pops. No BB guns allowed.

2: Holiday Ball: This type of event typically requires an away-from-work venue – which you should have booked well in advance of now. It also typically needs a caterer and entertainment (unless your venue provides those things). You can adopt whatever theme you like – masquerade, Christmas character (where you come as a book, film, or TV favorite character), whimsy (the theme for the 2023 Word & Brown’s employee party), Nutcracker, or something else. Your menu can be a multi-course meal or a lower-key buffet. It can include hors d’oeuvres, salad, entrée, and dessert or appetizers and lighter fare. The choice is yours.

For entertainment, you can hire a DJ, string quartet, acapella group, small orchestra, local community or school vocal group, or use prerecorded music. Again, it all depends on your budget and your staff size. Even if not for this year, creating a holiday event committee can help you create an event that appeals to employees at all levels and who may have different backgrounds and cultures.

3: Other “Theme” Ideas: Other films and TV shows you might consider for viewing and/or party or event inspiration are White Christmas, Elf, Polar Express, Christmas Vacation, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Home Alone, Frosty the Snowman, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, A Muppets Christmas, or Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas.

4: Ugly Sweater Party: The opposite of a holiday ball is an ugly sweater competition. You can provide gift cards or prizes for winners in various categories. Food is optional, based on gathering size and time of day.

5: Christmas Character Party: Another competition, but no dinner. Maybe pizza or snacks instead. Employees dress as a favorite holiday character – like Scrooge, Santa, Frosty the Snowman, Kevin (from Home Alone), Grinch, Elf, or some other recognizable persona. Vote on the most successful recreation and distribute one or more gift cards to selected winners. You can divide competitors into different groups, if necessary, based on how many awards you want to distribute and the size of your staff.

Pinterest features a list of hundreds of other possibilities, too. If you want to forego a film- or TV-themed party, you can go with a broader theme. Maybe Santa’s Workshop (where employees bring or build gifts for Toys for Tots, a Children’s Hospital, or another charity), Holiday Lights, or Christmas Cooking.

Other Celebration Options

There are many other ways to celebrate and reward employees for their contributions to your success in 2023. You might consider:

6: An afternoon of board games: Whether you play Monopoly, Trivia Pursuit, Scrabble, Cards Against Humanity, Operation, Barrel of Monkeys, Mr. Potato Head, or some other game, the idea is to break out of the norm and offer some holiday fun for employees.

7: Off-site lunch or on-site BBQ or food truck: Your “booking window” may be about to close if you want to take your team offsite for a mid-day break or bring in a food truck. Maybe if it’s too late to book for this year (or early in 2024), you can put a reminder on your calendar for a future celebration.

8: Raffle ticket, movie pass, or scratcher giveaway: Pay it forward by giving staff the opportunity to win prizes, attend a holiday movie (as a group or on their own), or try their luck with a holiday-themed lottery scratcher.

9: Potluck lunch: Encourage employees to bring in a personal favorite dish to share with others. You can furnish a group dessert or dessert buffet.

10: Pretzels, popcorn, and pizza: Minimize your expense, but generate goodwill with pretzels, popcorn, and pizza.

11: Trivia night: Encourage competition among your employees with a trivia night gathering. You can serve sandwiches to minimize food costs. Eggnog (with or without alcohol) might tie the event closer to the holidays. Or ask trivia questions about holiday films and TV shows. You can go with teams or individual competitors. It depends on how employees you have.

12: Secret Santa or white elephant gifting: Invite employees to bring a white elephant gift for exchange. You can establish a $10 or $20 limit and encourage them to choose something clever or fun.

13: At-work or off-site karaoke: Rent a karaoke machine or book a karaoke venue to host an off-site event. Give your employees a chance to demonstrate their talents (or lack thereof).

14: After-work happy hour: Set a date and time for a post-work gathering at a nearby watering hole. You can distribute tickets for drinks (up to a certain dollar limit) and everyone can choose their own beverage (alcoholic or not). You can also tie your outing in with another idea like karaoke, trivia, or an ugly sweater competition (all mentioned above).

15: Goofy year-end awards: Recognize employees and have some fun with a year-end awards show. Create weird awards and a certificate for each that recognize a special contribution by your staff. Try to have an award for each employee. To get your creative juices flowing, check out this Thanks.com list that includes 200 funny award names you might consider

For other ideas, read 54 Fun & Festive Corporate Holiday Party Ideas in 2023 published by Roaming Hunger, which bills itself as a culinary community builder. Whatever you choose to do, make it fun!

Happy holidays to you and yours!

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