If you’ve decided to host a company holiday party this year, you’re among the 75% of companies who will. How do you make your party stand apart from all the rest? Knowing your employees' likes and dislikes is key. At Dymin Systems we have a good handle on how our employees like to have fun, but if you’re just starting out, here are a few questions to ask yourself before planning any company event.
Company Holiday Party FAQ
How much should I spend?
Unfortunately there is no simple answer to this question, but rule #1 is to make a budget and stick to it. If you’re working with a small budget, consider forgoing a hosted bar or going with a buffet-style meal vs. a sit-down dinner.
When do I host my party?
It’s important to not encroach too much on your employee’s family time, so steer clear of the week of Christmas and other holidays for those who are traveling. If you have a hosted bar, consider a day when employees don’t have to be at work the next day, they’ll be more apt to enjoy themselves a little more this way. Also consider whether you want to give employees a little extra time off; maybe closing early and giving employees half a day off the day of your party would go a long way.
Should there be an activity?
We’ve found that holiday parties are most successful when there is an activity all employees and their significant others can enjoy. Activities can be a great team building tool as well. Our events have included skiing, paintball, and scavenger hunts. This year’s party theme… casino night!
Who is invited?
Always be clear about who is invited to your company party. Is it employees only? Significant other (i.e., wife/husband/boyfriend/girlfriend)? Whole family? If your party includes alcohol, inviting the whole family may not be appropriate.
Where should it be held?
Hosting a party at the office is an inexpensive route to go, but employees often don’t fully relax and have fun. Finding a venue appropriate for your activity, guest list, and budget it important. Take a look at local restaurants that have private rooms large enough to accommodate your guests. Hotels with conference areas are great options, as are sports arenas is you have an activity planned.
Do I have to give a gift?
Absolutely not, but if you are going to give a gift, working it into your party can provide for a unique experience. Consider holding a raffle for gifts, or have a competitive activity. We have used a photo scavenger hunt to determine employees' pick of our variety of gifts, and this year’s faux casino will do the same!
Company Party Conduct
Maybe you aren’t planning your company’s holiday party, but there are still a few general rules to observe when attending.
DO dress appropriately. This means dress for the venue, activity—if there is one, and crowd. And yes, it’s okay to ask what appropriate attire is.
DO participate. If there is an activity, or maybe a karaoke machine, go ahead—be a team player!
DON’T get stumbling drunk. Remember that it is still a work function, and while you may be the life of the party that night, it won’t look too favorably for you come your next review.
DON’T talk "shop". No one wants to be bombarded with work-related questions when they should be enjoying themselves. Take this time to get to know your coworkers.
Other Holiday Fun
Company holiday parties aren’t the only events being held during the holidays. Here are a few ideas for other festivities that can be hosted at work or at home!
Ugly Sweater Contest
Put your thrifting shoes on and hit those second-hand stores! Ugly Sweater Parties can be a great way to let loose. Attendees often go all in with outdated hairstyles, gauche makeup, and of course that obnoxious sweater reminiscent of something Aunt Gertrude might wear. Ugly Sweater Parties can be turned into contests with prizes or hilarious trophies awarded to the person with the most outrageous getup.
Gifting holiday goodies is a tradition … by many. Making a variety of cookies and candies can be a lot of work though! Cookie swaps can be a great way to get a plethora of different goodies, and maybe even a recipe or two for you to use in the future. There are many different ways to host a cookie swap, but the general idea is that you make a dozen cookies for each participant, and in return, you get a dozen cookies from each.
Wrapping gifts is either a love-it, or hate-it kind of activity. Personally, I go ALL OUT with wrapping presents: making custom gift tags for each present, hand crafting bows, and on occasion stamping my own paper! Even if you’re of the hate-it crowd, when done in a group, this activity can become the highlight of your holiday. Have everyone bring their slew of gifts, some basic wrapping supplies, and serve up a delicious holiday-themed cocktail! CAUTION: you might find yourself actually having fun!
Holiday Movie Marathon
Whether you enjoy classic holiday movies like It’s a Wonderful Life or Miracle on 34th Street, comedies like Jim Varney’s Ernest Saves Christmas or Elf, or even short cartoons like Charlie Brown Christmas or Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer; there is a long list of holiday movies to choose from. Make a night of it—complete with drinks and snacks—or better yet, combine it with another event like an Ugly Sweater Contest, Wrap Party, or a Cookie Swap!
Christmas Cast-Off Gift Exchange
Re-gifting (the act of handing off one of your previously received unwanted gifts to someone else) may be considered tacky in some circles, but when everyone's doing it, it can't be that bad, right? Have all of your friends come over with one of last Christmas' cast-offs—a leopard-print Snuggie, an automatic-twirling spaghetti fork, or a hot-pink clip-on tie. Make sure everyone's gifts are wrapped and then play a version of "White Elephant," where people can pick from the pile or steal someone else's new acquisition. Who knows, maybe someone else actually likes that gift from your great-aunt Bertha!
Costume Pub Crawl
♫ Don we now our gay apparel ♪. You’ll be the center of attention when you and your friends show up dressed as Santa and his troop of elves. ♫ ‘Tis the season to be jolly ♪ Brush up on a Christmas carol or two, and head to your favorite watering hole. People will find your getup so funny, you may not even have to pay for a drink all night—now that’s a reason to sing. ♫ Fa la la, la la la, la la la! ♪