How to Throw an Office Holiday Party Your Co-Workers Will Be Talking About into the New Year

office holiday party
Photo: RawPixel/Shutterstock

Are you in charge of throwing the office Christmas party? What a great opportunity!  After all, if it goes well, you can expect plenty of appreciation and accolades. Make sure you don’t skimp on the planning, though. If the event is boring and awkward, the party will be remembered for all the wrong reasons. Looking for work Christmas party ideas? Read on for tips and ideas sure to make your office party fun, delicious, and full of holiday spirit.     


Why Have an Office Holiday Party Anyway?

The answer seems obvious: “To have a good time!” But there’s more to it than that. An office Christmas party is a great way to show appreciation. You and your co-workers have put in a lot of hard work over the year, and a thoughtful party acknowledges that work and all the professional development that went along with it. Another big reason to celebrate? Getting together builds personal ties. The constraints of deadlines and meetings don’t always encourage the kind of teamwork that is so important to the success of your company. Socializing as a group goes a long way!

holiday party lights
Photo: Efetova Anna/Shutterstock

How to Throw an Office Holiday Party: First Steps

The first step is identifying your budget and the guest list. These two factors will drive the rest of your decisions. Will only employees be coming or will they bring plus ones or even their entire family? Once you know who is going to attend, consider their idea of a good time. The engineers I used to work with would have hated a karaoke party but other departments would be thrilled with the idea. What spells “fun” for your office? The answer to this question will help you know how to allocate your budget and set you down the path toward a great company party. Clueless about what your co-workers enjoy after hours? Send out an email and ask them to pick from a few affordable work Christmas party ideas, and go with the most popular one.

Picking a Venue for a Work Holiday Party

A restaurant is a no-fail option, but also consider reserving space at an art gallery, botanical garden, museum, local historical site, or community center. If you live somewhere with temperate weather look to enjoy the outdoors and book a park pavilion. Establishments such as a bowling alley, paint-your-own pottery place, arcade, ice skating rink, the zoo, dance studio, or comedy show offer built-in entertainment.

The search for a party venue may be no farther than your desk. The office can be a great space for the company holiday event, especially if the party budget is tight. The success of this depends on your particular office, though. Some employees would appreciate having time off during the work day to celebrate while others would prefer a night out. A company holiday event held at the office is a great chance to play some Christmas party games or group ice breakers. Consider a photo booth, cookie decorating station, or meme contest for potential work Christmas party ideas. If the party is held at the office be sure to make the atmosphere different from the normal workday with music and decor. 

appetizers at an office Christmas party
Photo: Foxys Forest/Shutterstock

What Refreshments to Serve at a Company Holiday Gathering

Food and drink are key to a successful work Christmas party, but this doesn’t mean it has to be expensive or elaborate. There are many different ways to eat, drink, and be merry – just give some thought to your guests and what they would most enjoy. A catered meal, a rented food truck, a dessert bar, dinner cruise, and potluck are all great choices for different reasons. Fondue or shabu shabu are fun and social ways to enjoy a meal. Think outside of the dinner box and consider a brunch party or appetizers and happy hour party.

If you are holding your holiday gathering at the office, make sure you check with the Human Resources department or office manager on whether or not you can serve alcohol at your event.

What to Wear to a Work Christmas Party

The dress code will take its cue from the venue.  Party outfits should be appropriate but festive. A cute dress or button up shirt will fit well in most places.  Daytime events are more casual but can still incorporate holiday colors or jewelry.  Comfort is always important.  It is much easier to have a good time if you do not have to fuss with your clothes all night. 

holiday party attire
Photo: Valeria Boltneva

How to Decorate the Office for Christmas

Decorating for the company party is more than scattering pretty objects around. The purpose is to build atmosphere and set the expectation of a festive time. Twinkle lights and candles make for great mood lighting. Good decor not only looks wonderful, it smells great, too! Include live greenery like evergreen boughs, eucalyptus branches, and poinsettia. Citrus fruits and live wreaths make for lovely tablescape decor. They can also be taken home afterwards as party favors. 

Keep in mind the diversity of your co-workers’ beliefs. Christmas could feel universally accepted as it is embraced by many who are non-religious, but it is not celebrated by everyone.  Do not decorate with religious symbols- especially those of which you are not familiar. What you may see as a decoration, someone else may regard as sacred. Stick to festive items like garland and snowflakes and leave kinara, menorahs, and manger scenes out.

Holiday Office Party Invitations

Party invitations can run the gamut from a simple group e-mail to letterpress invites delivered by post. Online invitation services or social media event pages are simple and effective options. Also, there are many sites that offer downloadable invitation templates that you can use to print or e-mail. Whatever you choose, make sure that the holiday office party invitations communicate the dress code and clearly state whether employees are invited to bring a guest.  

Work Christmas party ideas
Don’t forget to share these tips on Pinterest! [Photo credit: Shutterstock Dragon Images]

With a little effort and creativity, your office holiday party will be loads of fun! Your co-workers will leave smiling, feeling appreciated, and already looking forward to next year’s bash. 

Want more work Christmas party ideas?  Check this article on 7 tips for hosting the perfect holiday get-together.