Just because the weather outside is frightful, doesn’t mean your corporate holiday party can’t be delightful. Whether you plan to host an in-person event or a virtual soiree, there’s no reason you can’t go all out and stay within your budget.

In our latest episode of Team Building Saves the World, we’ve put together a panel of holiday party planning gurus to discuss how to plan and throw a memorable holiday party for your team. Below we are going to outline a few ideas and things to keep in mind as you get planning.

3 Pre-party Planning Checklist Must-Haves

Before you start planning your corporate holiday party, check these items off your pre-planning list to ensure you’re covering all the bases. 

Stephanie Windland, Lead TeamBonding facilitator notes from her experience, “You can really tell the difference when there’s a company that’s planned something because maybe someone suggested that it’s good for morale and they’ve thrown it and are like, this might work. And then when a company really wants to show their employees how much they mean to them and really celebrate them.”

1. Seek Input & Plan Early

There’s no reason to plan this year’s holiday party on your own. Seek input from your employees to get an idea of what they would want. Ultimately, you are celebrating them so their opinion is one of the most helpful things to consider straight away. 

You can send around a survey, a simple email asking for ideas, or ask around at lunch time. Then, recruit two or three employees to join you on the office holiday party planning committee. Not only will this take the pressure off of you, but it will allow them to step up into a fun leadership role. That’s a win-win!

Plan early. Plan early. Plan early. Jayne Hannah, Director of Corporate Training and Virtual Events at TeamBonding, says it best, “Make that decision, commit to it. Look forward to it.”

By planning your office holiday party early, you are more likely to have people to attend and alleviate any last minute hiccups.

2. Party Logistics

The bare bones of holiday party planning start with the who, what, where, and when (we already know the why)! That’s why planning early is in your favor. You can design invitations, seek out a great price for a venue, figure out a date that works for everyone, and more. We have downloadable save the date and invitation templates you can customize for your own event here!

Let’s break down other logistical considerations to consider, so that you leave no snowball unturned:

  • Who: Determine which employees plan to attend. Are their families also invited? Do you plan to have a DJ? Or an entertainer? Are your attendees older? Younger? Be sure to keep in mind not everyone celebrates the same holidays.
  • What: What events do you plan to include? A dance party? A cocktail bar? Maybe a gift exchange or a holiday raffle? Picture the event you want.
  • Where: Online or in-person? If in-person, then the number of guests and what you plan to do will inform the type of venue you’ll need.
  • When: Day or night? Maybe both? During working hours or on the weekend? The sooner you decide on the date and time, the better everyone can plan. Remember, your team has a life outside of work, so make sure you are respectful of their schedules.

Jayne mentions to be realistic, “We are human beings and if you pack out your day and your agenda too much, or you expect minute by minute to minute, I guarantee it’s not gonna work because George will be late, or Henrietta will wanna take a call, whatever. So we have to be flexible. But remember that celebration is key.”

3. Get Creative Within your Budget

You don’t need to blow your office holiday party budget to go all out this year. You just need to roll up your sleeves and get a little creative. We have programs for all sorts of budgets, and by planning early you can better adapt better to the budget you have. 

While we’ll cover several budget-friendly party ideas below, here are a few basics you could incorporate into your party, to give it that extra bit of holiday sparkle:

  • Visit a local shopping center that has an Angel Tree. Everyone can choose an angel and make a kid’s holiday wish come true!
  • Keep a holiday music playlist rolling in the background.
  • Decorate the office or party venue with decor. Bring in a holiday tree. Maybe some candles. Ornaments and tinsel can serve as table centerpieces. Pick up extra bits and bobs at the store, a local thrift shops or even yard sales.
  • Have a projector screen? And some footage from past holiday parties? Consider keeping that on loop during the festivities.
  • Pizza is often affordable and simple. Pair that with a hot chocolate bar, and voila! Instant holiday magic!
  • Host an ugly sweater competition. The person with the glitziest, most hideous, and holiday-fied sweater wins the Falalala Fashion Faux Pas Award. Just remember to pick up some prizes!

Top 7 Corporate Office Holiday Party Ideas

Now for the fun stuff! There are tons of ways to celebrate, and each can be adapted to fit your teams unique needs. Get a head start on deciding which type of holiday office party you’d like to throw for your team with our list of six super creative holiday party ideas we’ve seen bring holiday cheer over the years.

1. Coordinate a Team-Building Charity Drive

Giving is better than receiving. And when your team bands together for a worthy cause, it can be just what Santa ordered to build teamwork and get in the holiday spirit. Many nonprofits are in need during the holiday season so the possibilities are endless to give back locally, nationally, or globally.

From a company-wide scavenger hunt to give back to healthcare workers, to building bikes, bears, and more in The Big Give, Cooking for a Cause, or create gift baskets for animals in the shelter, we offer dozens of charitable events to help your teach celebrate while making a difference.

For those working with a smaller budget, we recommend having each participants bring a couple of canned goods to the holiday party or office that can be donated to your local food shelter. These goods will surely make an impact on someone’s holiday dinner.

Pet care team building

2. Plan a North Pole Potluck

When you think of the holiday season, it’s impossible not to think of all the lush cuisine that awaits. Whether that’s turkey, ham, slow-roasted prime rib, tamales, roast duck, and more, the varieties are endless. 

Plan a North Pole Potluck dinner for your team. Since holiday cuisine varies all over the world, your team members more than likely have unique family and cultural traditions to share. Encourage them to bring a dish that is unique to their family’s celebration, or one they enjoyed when they were growing up.

You can also host a competition and work in teams where your group gets to prepare, enjoy and celebrate a serious multi-course gourmet meal in Team Cuisine. There’s no denying that food brings people together.

3. Host a Happy Holidays Happy Hour

This is an event that you can do in person or on a virtual platform. A Holiday Happy Hour can include any variety of drinks (with or without alcohol) and if virtual, then anything your employees choose on their own. And if you want something a bit more structured, opt for a fully facilitated mixology event. We offer a delightful Virtual Holiday Happy Hour, Team Mixology, Beer and Cheese tasting, or Wine Tasting events. 

Of course, no matter where you are, encourage moderation and safety-first–you don’t need any Blitzed Blitzens running around.

4. Have a Game Night

Hosting a game night is a great way to keep your team engaged and having fun throughout the entirety of the event. Here are a few festive game ideas to consider:

Trivia Night – The best thing about trivia is you can customize it to be anything you want. We’ve seen teams do strictly holiday trivia, or throw in some questions about the company or participants. Check out our Oh What Fun Holiday Trivia or Spin to Win for a professionally facilitated trivia event for your team.

Casino Night – Take your holiday office party to the next level with a thrilling Vegas-themed team building activity. Use funny money and laugh the night away playing a variety of casino inspired games. If you’re team is global, a virtual poker tournament might be a better option.

Race Reindeer – It sounds silly, but time and time again we’ve seen teams have a blast at the races. Reindeer Games is full of energy, suspense, and ground-breaking holiday fun.

5. Organize a Hands-on Experience

One of our favorite office holiday parties teams love year after year is our Gingerbread House Hunters competition where each team is challenged to design and build an absolute showstopper of a house. If your team is planning on being virtual during the holidays, a Virtual Gingerbread Competition is a great way to have some fun and get families involved. The kids always love it!

Other fun events include building chocolate bridges or hosting a cookie decorating competition.

6. Take Your Team on a Adventure

Everyone likes a good surprise now and again. Our Mystery Bus is a custom-tailored team building event that transports your team to some of the coolest, most wonderful destinations in and around your city of choice. During the holiday season, there are many light shows, venues, and attractions your team can choose to visit. They truly won’t know where they’re going till they get there.

Mystery Bus

Ready to Throw the Ultimate Corporate Holiday Party for Your Team?

It doesn’t matter where you throw this year’s holiday party or how big your budget is. The important thing to remember is your team will create new memories and experiences as the year comes to a close. If you want to make it really easy, we offer both an in person and virtual Ultimate Holiday Party.

Kevin Pertusiello, a lead TeamBonding facilitator, reminds us of the true meaning of a holiday office party–the experience:

“We get to have fun doing it and all of a sudden we get to walk away from something. And we now have that shared experience and we have just a richer set of qualities as we come out of it. It’s, it’s such a great thing. The power of play is very real.”

To better prepare you for your office holiday party planning, we invite you to listen to the full podcast, “Holiday Party Planning 101” here. Also, be sure to explore TeamBonding’s events portfolio to find other engaging holiday team building events that will get your team pumped for the holidays.

Anna Webber

Team Contributor

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