Holding an annual holiday party is a great way to build camaraderie in your business. It’s the perfect opportunity to show gratitude toward the employees who helped make the year great while also giving them the chance to kick back and relax with one another.

There’s a lot of Good Idea, Bad Idea sifting you’ll need to do to host an awesome Holiday party. Implementing these key insights (and avoiding the unsavory ones) is how you transform your party from an obligation to a celebration.

Here are a few tips to pull off a fantastic holiday celebration:

How to Host a Rockin’ Office Holiday Party

The Venue

Are you holding your party at the office or an outside venue? If the party’s at the office, everyone already knows where to go and what the parking situation is. However, not every office has space for a party, and it can be hard to transform the area from a working zone to a festive one. If you go to a restaurant, these places have experience creating holiday meals and a festive atmosphere. It might be a little more expensive, but your employees are (probably) worth it.

Do: Consider your guests’ needs and what the space can offer.

Don’t: Leave this decision until the last minute; the venue choice has a big effect on a party.

The Decor

Look for nondenominational decor that will bring the winter season to life. This could include wreaths, electric candles, glittering snowflakes, etc. If it would have a place in your own home where family and friends (and even in-laws) see it, chances are it’s a good call to have at your party.

Do: Use lighting strategically, for instance to draw attention toward centerpieces.

Don’t: Forget about fire safety IE don’t plug in more than three strands of lights into the same outlet or set candles near a flammable tree.


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The Invitations

One classy option here is to send an invitation out with an office holiday card. You can also send out e-invites. This makes it easier for employees to RSVP, and easier for you to keep track while planning. Here you can get and give out valuable information about the party. This could include starting hours, the theme or dress code (if any), a box where guests could note any special requests or food allergies, etc.

Do: Include important details like the address, parking information, and dress code.

Don’t: Forget a +1 on the card so your guests can take a family member with them.

Food and Drink

The buffet is one of the centerpieces of a holiday party. If it’s a large party, remember that you may be dealing with employees with different diets or allergies. You may want to ask catering to come up with cards for each dish listing their ingredients. If you’re planning a party at a restaurant, make sure you’re offering a varied menu with something for everyone. Finally, if you have an open bar or are planning a champagne toast, include non-alcoholic options.

Do: Offer a wide variety of choices.

Don’t: Forget about food allergies or drink preferences.

The Music

Remember that everyone has their own specific tastes in music. Also, especially loud and festive pieces are cheerful but make it difficult to hold a conversation. Your safest bet is a mix of non-religious holiday songs and easy listening music like light jazz or classical pieces.

Do: Include a variety of music and keep tabs the volume knob

Don’t: Choose songs without screening them first. A lot of holiday music is highly religious and not a good choice for an inclusive party.


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Welcome New Talent

As your company grows, so will your workforce. The holiday party is a great way to welcome them into the fold. You may want to plan some fun party games to break the ice for everyone.

Do: Plan party games that get people talking and teaming up, such as a team building scavenger hunt.

Don’t: Choose party games that require a lot of concentration or physical ability. Not everyone may be able to keep up.

Employee Recognition

The holidays are naturally a time to look forward. However, it’s also important to look at the year behind you. The employees are a big part of the company’s success, and holiday parties are a great time to recognize their hard work. One way you can do this is through a speech where you extend the company’s gratitude to partygoers.

Do: Recognize everyone; each employee has a valuable role in the company.

Don’t: Let the speech drag on; guests are eager to get to the music, dancing, and buffet table.

Gift Giving Guide

Companies can handle this in a variety of ways. They may suggest a ’50 dollar maximum’ for presents the employees give each other. If the company itself wants to give out presents, think outside the box. You might want to assemble party favor bags with seasonal teas and a company branded mug, for example. Other solid suggestions include gift cards to local restaurants or universally useful items like thumb drives.

Do: Give everyone the same small gift as token of the company’s esteem.

Don’t: Set up a game of ‘dirty Santa’ unless you know that everyone will get into the spirit of things without hurt feelings.

Have fun!

Number one thing to keep in mind is to have fun. This is a time of celebration for the company and for the individuals who make it a joy to be part of. End your year on a high note and get everyone feeling proud and included before gearing up for another big year.

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