How to plan the perfect office holiday party

How to plan the perfect office holiday party

Is the annual holiday party a “highly anticipated” or “dreaded” event at your office? If you’re the one in charge of this year’s event, you want to make it one to remember — and not because your coworkers get so out of hand that they lose their jobs. Like Phyllis Diller said: “What I don’t like about office Christmas parties is looking for a job the next day.”

Holiday office parties, when done well, can be great for boosting morale and providing employees with the opportunity to get to know each other better. It also shows gratitude for the hard work they have put in. So, how do you make it easy for all involved?

Decide on a convenient time

Your employees spend plenty of time with their coworkers and are unlikely to want to add more time to that. So, why not have the party during office hours?

If you can manage it, this will make your coworkers/employees adore you. Who doesn’t love a break from their everyday tasks! Be sure to reduce your employees’ workload to accommodate this. No one likes being forced to work late all week in order to attend the office holiday party.

Give employees the option to attend or not, but make sure you let them know their presence is desired.

Offer a variety of food

People eat such varied diets these days, so it’s good to have options. You can order in pizza, but also make salads available too. Veggie trays, meat platters, and nuts are also a great option. Consider those who are gluten-free, vegetarian, and meat lovers.

catering table

Your employees will love that you have thought about them, as there will not be much for some to eat at many other parties. And don’t forget the dessert. After all, as Julie Child would say, “A party without cake is just a meeting.”

To make having a variety of food easier, you could have everyone bring something for an afternoon potluck. Just make sure you provide the plates, cups, napkins, and cutlery.

Get creative with gifts

Make gift giving fun by suggesting white elephant gifts, themed gifts, or re-gifting. This way, employees won’t need to spend much money and will have a good laugh.

There are plenty of ways to set your party apart from the typical office gathering. If you have a smaller office, a gift exchange is a fun way for everyone to interact and get to know each other. Just make sure to set limits to make everyone comfortable participating in the gift giving regardless of budget.

Add a surprise feature

You don’t have to spend a lot to make the people of your office feel honored and appreciated. Get creative and offer something unique at your party. You could go for a DIY photo booth, for example. Have fun props and let employees take selfies with each other wearing funny hats and signs.

This helps everyone relax and enjoy each other’s company. If you have some extra cash to spend, you can hire someone to take the pictures using an instant camera. That way attendees will receive a copy of their pictures right away.

Make it festive

Whatever room you set aside for your office party, make it festive. This doesn’t mean that you have to go traditional. Maybe there is a theme that’s better suited to your company and brand.

UK event marketing company Event Juice suggests choosing a theme and researching it thoroughly. Some popular ideas include traditional Christmas, vintage, 60s, 70s, 80s, quintessentially English, pantomime, circus, Chicago jazz, winter wonderland, ballroom, colors, film inspired, wild west, spy, Caribbean, and Santa’s workshop. You could even allow everyone to dress up for the theme the day of the party.

Businesswoman in Santa cap hanging Christmas wreath over workplace in office

Part of making your party festive is including a great playlist of music to keep everyone happy and enjoying themselves. Karaoke machines are always a hit.

Send something home

Your employees have worked hard all year through. An extra way to reward them is to send a small gift home with them. Avoid using company products with your logo. Go for special goodies that your employees and their families will all enjoy. Favors, desserts, and gift cards are some simple ideas.

A little ingenuity can go a long way in showing your employees your appreciation and making your holiday office party more fun.


  • Seek to be as inclusive as possible
  • Make it fun and easy to attend
  • Get creative and consider a non-traditional approach
  • Show employees your appreciation


  • Make it more work for your employees
  • Make the party promotional
  • Give excessively long speeches
  • Forget about volunteers, part-timers, and interns

And, of course, do remember to smile.

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