It’s the most wonderful time of the year, AKA, the office holiday party! If you’re shaking your head “no” right now, we’re very, very sorry that your past holiday parties weren’t as festive or fun as they should have been. Don’t worry—our holiday guide is filled with unique corporate holiday party ideas, as well as some classics to get everyone into the holiday spirit this year!
How to plan an office holiday party everyone will enjoy
Choose a very merry theme
One of the best ways to get your fellow team members excited about your office holiday party is to choose a theme that absolutely sleighs. Luckily, the holidays offer a flurry of fabulous options to suit every workplace.
Ugly sweater party
Want to throw a holiday party full of silly spirit? Host an ugly sweater party! The theme is simple: Everyone shows up in their favorite “ugly” holiday sweater (or one they found at a local thrift shop or Amazon). That’s it! You can opt to have a contest for the ugliest and/or most creative holiday sweater, but even without that added element, people are certain to enjoy this casual and funny theme.
Silver & gold Gatsby bash
Who doesn’t love an opportunity to get glammed up and go OTT for the evening? Incorporate a little holiday flair to this dazzling theme by decorating in a “silver and gold” motif and see how far people go with their metallic glam.
Holiday game night
Whether you call it “casino night, “holidays in Vegas,” or simply just “holiday game night,” you can bet everyone will be game for this party theme. Set up a variety of games across the tables and decorate with lots of bright lights for that Elvis meets elfish vibe.
Looking for more of a team-building activity party theme? Escape rooms continue to be a popular group activity, and you can find venues in many cities that offer holiday-themed ones, like “find the missing toy” or “find Santa’s nice list.” This is perfect for smaller groups who like to problem-solve together (even at a party!).
We love this theme because there are so many ways to interpret it (and it can be as budget-friendly as the CFO likes). Decorate with oversized snowflakes, twinkling fairy lights, some old-fashioned sleds and a hot cocoa bar, and encourage guests to wear something white (Labor Day rules don’t apply here).
If Disco really did die in 1979, it’s having an incredible afterlife because it is EVERYWHERE right now (and it’s not going away anytime soon). Encourage everyone to don their flashiest ’70s-threads (velvet and sequins FTW), create a dance floor and decorate with disco ball ornaments.
Holiday movie night
Set up a cozy watch area (or rent a movie theater!), hand out popcorn and plenty of sweets, and put on a classic holiday movie like “Home Alone,” “Scrooged,” “Elf,” or even “Die Hard.” If chill is your goal, a holiday movie party is it.
Another classic theme, and one that’s sure to see no one leave hungry! This is a great option for both day and night holiday parties.
Holiday happy hour
It’s a theme, venue and activity all wrapped up in one spirited package. This is a staple holiday office party theme, and even better if you cover shared ride expenses for employees so everyone can have fun while staying safe.
End-of-year award ceremony
We can’t be the only ones thinking about the iconic Dundie Awards episode from “The Office” right now. Roll out the red (and green) carpet, create a slew of fun “awards” to hand out to each employee complete with tiny statuettes and see who has the most enthusiastic acceptance speech.
Find the perfect party venue
A venue can make or break a party, both vibe-wise and financially. Choose the one that fits your budget and the culture of your office best, and make sure to book your venue well in advance—they will fill up quickly during the holiday season.
A bar or restaurant
If you have a decent budget, renting out a bar or restaurant for your party is always a solid choice. The venue can take care of the sips and bites, and many will let you add some holiday decorations.
A movie theater
If you have a large budget and group of people, consider renting out a movie theater for the evening. While it’s not the most sociable venue for a party, it’s a unique and memorable location for a holiday party (and people can always head over to a bar later for the afterparty).
A bowling alley
Similar to a movie theater in that your activity is taken care of, a holiday bowling party is something everyone can enjoy. It also affords plenty of opportunities for socializing (and bowling contests)!
Another unique idea is to rent a swanky house on Airbnb. From cozy lodges to penthouses with breathtaking views, you can treat your employees to an unforgettable party that definitely doesn’t feel like the office.
Speaking of the office, why not host your party there? What makes a party special isn’t the location—it’s the people there. If your office has the space, put your budget into decor and catering and gather everyone around to celebrate how awesome you all are!
Plan activities everyone can enjoy
There's no better way to break the ice at an office holiday get-together and get everyone in a merrymaking mood than with some entertaining activities!
This gifting fave is a must for many offices and friend groups. A few weeks before the party, ask everyone if they would like to participate in a Secret Santa gift swap, then randomly assign coworkers to each other using the trusty “pull a name out of a hat” method or an online Secret Santa generator. Many sites allow participants to add gifting suggestions to their profile, which is a welcome feature if you aren't sure what your colleagues are into. Regardless, make sure you set a price limit and stick to it.
White Elephant/Yankee Swap/Dirty Santa
This gift swap goes by many names, but no matter which moniker you prefer, it’s a LOT of fun! Everyone participating brings a wrapped gag gift, a great gift, or something they no longer want from their homes. Then, you go around in a circle, and people either choose a wrapped gift from the pile or steal an unwrapped gift from someone else. Usually, you go around twice to make it a bit more fair, and also set limits on how many times a gift can be stolen before it’s out of the running and someone can keep it for good.
No matter how much someone says they won’t sing along, once “All I Want for Christmas Is You” comes on, they’ll be trying their hardest to hit those notes.
There are two ways in particular that we like to play this game: 1. Hide holiday-themed trinkets around the venue, split everyone into groups, and then give them a list of what to find. Whichever group finds everything on their list first wins a prize! 2. Hide some cool prizes around the venue and then send everyone off to find their surprise present. Once someone has found something, it’s theirs, and they stop searching to allow everyone to find a gift.
If games aren’t your office’s thing, offer another type of experience, like a wine tasting. Bring in a sommelier to curate a selection of wines and make sure there’s plenty of charcuterie on hand.
You can bring in a pro, or have someone from your team act as the trivia master and quiz the group on everything from general knowledge to company facts.
The annual holiday party is a time to let loose—literally. Pump up the holiday music and other dance hits to get everyone grooving. Dance contest, anyone?
Set up a photo booth
You can create a DIY tinsel backdrop and grab some festive photo props so partygoers can snap endless photos with their phones, or hire a photographer to come in and set the whole thing up for you and take actual physical photos (remember those?).
Eating & drinking
The most straightforward, necessary activity of any party. Charcuterie, finger foods, sushi, waffle fries, candy canes, cookies, mulled wine, cider, hot chocolate…the list just goes on. People WILL remember the food and drink selection.
Get everyone in the holiday mood with some pre-party activities
While the weather outside may be frightful, these office-friendly holiday activities are certainly delightful! Treat your colleagues to a series of fun mini-experiences leading up to the holiday party, and they’ll know they’re in for a truly magical holiday party.
DIY ornaments or dreidels
Inspire everyone to indulge in their creative side with a paint-your-own ornament and/or dreidel station! This ribbon letter kit, these blank wooden ornaments and blank dreidels are some great options to consider (don’t forget to pick up some paint and brushes).
Gingerbread house competition
Competition just doesn’t get any sweeter than this! Provide plenty of gingerbread and icing, then watch as your co-workers construct masterpieces of spiced goodness.
Another sweet idea—a cookie swap! Ask people to bring a batch of cookies of their choice (homemade or otherwise) to contribute and set them all out for everyone to try.
Jolabokaflod book swap
The novel Icelandic tradition of swapping books for the holidays is a cozy way to exchange gifts and share great stories. Who knows, you may discover your new favorite author!
Everyone deserves to have a happy holiday. Set up a Toys for Tots donation bin in your office, participate in an Adopt-a-Family program to make a family’s holiday wishes come true, create an in-office food drive or let employees know about volunteering opportunities in the community. If you’re looking for more ways to help during the holiday season, check out our list of holiday volunteer ideas.
Hot chocolate bar
There’s nothing like a hot cup of cocoa to make any day feel like a holiday. Set up a yummy hot chocolate station with hot cocoa mix, hot water and/or milk, marshmallows, candy canes, sprinkles, whipped cream, festive cups, and a tray of cookies and peppermint bark.
Turn what can feel like a chore into a celebration! Everyone brings in the gifts they need to wrap, along with a roll of wrapping paper to share. The company provides ribbons, bows, tape and name tags, and then, the fun begins. People can mix and match their wrapping paper and relax knowing that no one will “accidentally” walk in on them wrapping pressies.
Deck your desks with boughs of holly (or whatever seasonal decor you love) and turn the office into a winter wonderland. Set a supplies budget to make it fair for all, and give a prize to the most merry desk-scape.
Office holiday party FAQ
Whether you're a seasoned party planner or a first-time attendee, here are some frequently asked questions about office holiday parties, along with helpful answers to ensure a memorable and enjoyable event.
How should you prepare for an office holiday party?
Preparing for an office holiday party involves a careful mix of planning and holiday spirit. If you're the one planning and throwing the party, you'll want to check the following to-dos off your list:
- Decide upon and book a venue.
- Organize food and drinks.
- Plan party activities.
- Book any entertainment and/or vendors, like DJs, mixologists, bands, photographers, etc.
- Send out holiday party invitations.
- Order holiday decorations and supplies.
- Enlist a group of volunteers to help with setting up and breaking down the party.
If you're one of the attendees, once you receive your invitation to the party, make any necessary arrangements, like childcare, to ensure you can attend. Next, choose a suitable outfit that balances festive spirit with professional attire. If there's a theme for the party, consider incorporating it into your look. Decide if you're planning to drink alcohol at the party to determine if you should take a rideshare to and from the party.
When should you start to plan an office holiday party?
Ideally, you should start planning an office holiday party a couple of months in advance. This time frame allows you to secure a venue, set a date and plan activities without risk of rushing or missing out on your dream location. It also gives you a jolly good amount of time to organize catering, entertainment and decorations. Starting early ensures a smoother planning process and gives colleagues enough notice to save the date and plan to attend.
How do you make an office holiday party fun?
To make an office holiday party truly magical, focus on creating a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere. Consider incorporating interactive activities like trivia games, photo booths or a Secret Santa gift exchange. Engaging icebreakers can help employees from different departments connect and get to know each other better, creating a sense of camaraderie. Live music or a DJ can also add to the festive ambiance, encouraging everyone to mix, mingle and jingle the night away.
What day of the week is best for an office holiday party?
Generally speaking, most holiday parties happen around the second week of December, Fridays are often popular choices, as they allow everyone to unwind after a week of work and sleep in the next day. However, if the party is held on a weekday, consider starting a little earlier to accommodate those who have family commitments or prefer not to stay out too late. You can also have a daytime holiday party if that suits your workplace better!
Which holiday invitations are the best for an office holiday party?
While it depends on your company’s culture, holiday invitations that pair the merriment of the season with a professional approach are excellent choices for office holiday parties. If your office party has a theme, like an ugly sweater party, Secret Santa or holiday happy hour, opt for an invitation that conveys this theme. Because the holiday season is so busy, consider sending holiday save the dates ahead of time so everyone can make plans to attend. Evite offers festive holiday invitations for every party, all with free RSVP tracking and advanced event planning features, including:
If your party planning committee has more amazing office parties planned beyond the holidays, consider Evite Pro. With Evite Pro, you can create unlimited events and enjoy unlimited access to 1,000s of Premium invitations, hundreds of greeting cards, and other Premium features that make planning those company shindigs a piece of cake.
All right, you’re now ready to deliver more holiday magic than a certain jolly fellow in December! We hope your office holiday party is THE party of not only the season, but of the year. Happy Holidays!