With the holidays right around the corner, Christmas party planning is in full swing! There are a thousand different directions you can take your celebrations, all depending on your company culture, employee count, and, of course, your budget.
We've curated a few dozen of our favorite work Christmas party ideas to inspire and motivate you, but don't limit yourself to only scheduling holiday festivities during a two-hour time frame.
Plan to infuse small moments of joy into your workplace throughout the Christmas season. In doing so, you'll likely experience an increase in employee engagement and a warmer company culture.
38 Work Christmas Party Ideas
When choosing which office Christmas party ideas to incorporate into your company party, the most important factor is to know your audience.
Do your employees appreciate the opportunity to dress up or prefer a more casual event? Would they enjoy an in-office event or want to attend a Christmas party at a new location? Are they open to attending something after-hours or should it be scheduled while they're on the clock?
From elegant catered events to classic gingerbread house decorating, we've got work Christmas party ideas that will appeal to any crowd! Combine a few to create the ultimate Christmas party experience for your employees they'll be talking about for months to follow.
Traditional Corporate Christmas Party Ideas
Tried and true, these office Christmas party ideas are all classic options. They're designed to appeal to a wide audience and typically don't require a huge amount of setup or an exorbitant cost.
Ugly Sweater Extravaganza
Encourage employees to wear their favorite ugly Christmas sweater to work for some casual fun in the office. You may even have everyone vote and award prizes for categories such as Fan Favorite, Ugliest Sweater, Best Sweater Vest, and Most Likely To Be Worn by a Grandma.
Christmas Movie Marathon
Spread holiday cheer by offering a few viewings of popular Christmas movies. Ask employees to vote on their favorites and then schedule showings they can visit at their leisure.
Include a movie food station with options such as popcorn, soda, and sweet treats. If you schedule this as an after-hours event, plan to make it a family affair and provide enough space and snacks for a larger crowd.
Coffee and Cocoa Bar
A DIY hot chocolate and coffee bar is an easy option to incorporate at your office Christmas party or as a treat in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
For the ultimate employee experience, offer a wide variety of ingredients, including:
- Base: hot chocolate made with milk for a creamier option and one made with water for lactose-intolerant employees; regular and decaf coffee options
- Sweeteners: whipped cream, caramel sauce, marshmallows, chocolate chips, and/or butterscotch chips
- Flavorings: cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla syrup, hazelnut syrup, flavored creamers
- Toppings: shredded coconut, sprinkles, crushed nuts, crushed peppermint, toffee bits
- Stirrers: candy canes, chocolate-covered spoons, cinnamon sticks, caramel sticks
Rent a karaoke machine and stick it in the break room for hours of musical holiday fun! Select a machine with a pre-approved selection or opt for one that allows employees to play their own music-- it's completely up to you. You can always take it up a notch by adding a dance floor near your karaoke machine.
Christmas Cookie Exchange
Add a sweet touch to your company holiday party by hosting a Christmas cookie exchange. Employees who want to participate can bring in a few dozen of their favorite treats to swap with other bakers in the office. Since baking can be time and effort-intensive, be sure to stress that this is a completely optional event!
Ask employees to bring their favorite holiday food for a festive potluck lunch at work. To ensure you have a range of foods in your spread, you might consider assigning a certain type of dish to each department or creating a virtual sign-up where everyone can volunteer for a dish.
Using a service like SignUp Genius, you can specify how many of each dish you need, creating spaces for 4 desserts, 2 breads, 6 drinks, etc.
Christmas PJ Day
Incorporate some cozy holiday cheer into your celebrations by encouraging employees to come to the office in their favorite Christmas pajamas.
Take your holiday office party on the road by choosing a few spots to go caroling. Many facilities will be glad to welcome a group of carolers ready to bring joy to residents who don't get to see many visitors.
Larger organizations can split up into teams or departments to visit a few different places. Check with local nursing homes, assisted living facilities, memory care facilities, and hospitals to schedule your visit.
A photo booth is a classic staple at Christmas parties. Put up some festive decorations in the background and stock up on a few fun Christmas props like giant candy canes and Santa hats. You can incorporate just about every party theme with the right backdrop and props.
Gingerbread House Decorating Contest
Gingerbread house decorating covers a little bit of everything-- tasty treats, team building, competition, and tradition. You can provide pre-assembled houses for teams to decorate or require that employees build it themselves as part of the challenge.
White Elephant Gift Exchange
Whether you call it white elephant, dirty Santa, or Yankee swap, this game is a classic that's been played at Christmas parties for decades. Employees should bring a gift that fits under the limit (usually between $10-$20) and be ready to fight for the item they want to leave with!
Rules vary by location, but typically the game begins by drawing numbers. Going in order, participants can choose to open a new present or steal an item that someone else has already opened. Once an item has been stolen 2 or 3 times, it can't be stolen again.
Themed white elephant exchanges are trending, and some of our favorite themes are:
- game gifts
- gift cards
- As Seen On TV
- coffee mug exchange
- gifts from grandma's house
- recipe kits
Christmas Around the World
Honor the way other cultures celebrate the holidays with a Christmas around the world event. A simple way to incorporate various cultures into your party is to set up a food station with Christmas treats from different countries.
Another option is to invite food trucks that offer different types of cuisine to park at the office during the event.
Unusual Office Christmas Party Ideas
Stray away from tradition with this unique compilation of Christmas party ideas, or pair one with a traditional celebration for a surprising twist during your work Christmas party.
Christmas Card Competition
Purchase some poster board and craft supplies-- think markers, glitter, pom poms, etc. Challenge all of your departments to make giant Christmas cards before the event. During your work Christmas party, display all of the cards and ask employees to vote for their favorite.
Like the ugly sweater extravaganza, you might offer themed prizes such as Glitz and Glam and Punniest Message. You'll be impressed with the Christmas cards people design!
A masquerade ball is the ideal event for a more elegant office Christmas party and pairs well with catered dinner parties. Employees may dress up in black tie or ballgown attire, complete with tasteful masks. For extra charm, consider scheduling the event at an older venue in town.
The Great Give Back
Corporate volunteering has been shown to increase employee engagement and boost productivity, and the holiday season is full of opportunities to serve other people. Schedule a few chances for employees to participate in service projects such as serving meals or handing out food boxes, collecting gifts for Angel Tree families, or even ringing the bell for the Salvation Army.
While we love the idea of encouraging employees to volunteer during the holiday season (and even year-round), be thoughtful in how you curate service opportunities. Try to stick to events within working hours and don't ask employees to give from their own pockets. For example, if you want to sponsor an Angel Tree child, budget for the gifts in your holiday budget and provide time during the work day for employees to go shopping.
Holiday-themed Office Olympics
This may be our favorite unique Christmas party idea on the list. If you've got a competitive group, they'll enjoy some office Olympics at your holiday party. You can find ideas for winter Olympic games online or search "minute to win it" games to create a list of competitions you want to offer, or put on your Santa hat and start brainstorming what kind of events your employees would enjoy.
Just a few ideas include:
- paper snowball throwing contests
- candy cane relay
- ornament balancing relay
Christmas Mixology Class
Get everyone in the Christmas spirit with actual spirits this holiday season. Hire a mixologist to come in and teach employees how to create a few festive cocktails. If you opt for a mixology class, be sure to schedule it after a catered lunch or potluck dinner so that no one is drinking on an empty stomach.
For remote employees, you can offer online mixology classes! Websites like Uncommon Goods provide online classes that include the necessary equipment for individuals to make unique and delicious drinks, including a virgin version of each for those who don't drink alcohol.
Christmas Costume Party
There are two major options when planning a holiday costume party: open it up to any holiday-related costumes, or suggest a specific theme like:
- Christmas classics
- movie characters
- winter wonderland
- Gingerbread get up
If you encourage costumes, be sure to offer a photo booth so employees can document the occasion.
Merry Murder Mystery
This work Christmas party idea is a great team-building activity as employees work together to solve a festive mystery and discover who the killer is. For an especially memorable event, fill the office with holiday decorations that match the game's theme and encourage employees to dress up as their character would.
Creatives may want to design a murder mystery game themselves, but you can also find premade kits available online for purchase.
If your office is animal-friendly, consider a holiday work party that centers around your furry friends. Invite employees to bring in their friendly pets to snag a photo with Santa and participate in a pet costume contest.
To ensure your Christmas party doesn't include too much chaos, you might try scheduling separate events for dogs and cats or asking employees to sign up for a time slot to bring Fido to the office.
Gift Wrapping Station
Help employees avoid a last-minute gift-wrapping frenzy by offering a gift-wrapping station at your corporate holiday party. To secure the help of a professional gift wrapper, consider reaching out to employees who work at high-end department stores that offer this service; they have experience and possibly even training on how to beautifully and efficiently wrap gifts. You can also check with friends and family to see if anyone wants to work the station.
Stock up on all the necessary supplies-- including tissue paper, gift wrap, bows, tape, and scissors-- and you're all set!
During the party, employees can drop their Christmas gifts off at the gift-wrapping station and pick them up once they're finished. To maximize the helpfulness of this service, you can even hire someone to shuttle the wrapped gifts to your employees' cars before they leave.
Visit a Holiday Market
Large-scale holiday markets usually have a little bit of everything to offer: opportunities for Christmas shopping, delicious food, and even activities like ice skating. Block out an afternoon for employees to head to your favorite market and enjoy a relaxed few hours together.
Crafty Corporate Christmas Party Ideas
Santa's workshop isn't the only place where goodies will be made this holiday season. Crafty Christmas parties ensure that employees leave with more than a full belly and a cheesy Santa gift.
They also end the workshop with something beautiful created by their own hands. To make the event more enjoyable, offer some festive drink and snack options before or during the crafting.
While we understand it's not possible for all organizations, we recommend covering the cost for employees to participate in any makers workshops.
Wreath Making Workshop
Hire a wreath-making pro and schedule a workshop for employees to make their own front door décor. If you don't know someone crafty, check with your local Michael's, which often offer makers classes.
Ornament Making Workshop
Ornament making options are nearly endless. For a simple and completely unique handmade ornament, purchase tiny canvases for employees to decorate with paint and marker pens. After decorating the canvas and attaching ribbon with a little hot glue, they'll have a one-of-a-kind ornament to gift or hang on their Christmas tree at home.
If you're looking for a few other handmade ornament ideas, we especially love the ugly sweater and stamped clay ornaments recommended here.
Holiday Season Sip and Paint
Sip and paint parties are the perfect opportunities for employees to craft their own unique holiday décor or personalized Christmas gifts. Typical options include a festive canvas or door hanger. Most people who provide this service will supply everything you need including the surface, paint, brushes, and even tablecloths.
Of course, don't forget the 'Sip' part of this event. Grab a few bottles of wine or hire a bartender to create a custom holiday cocktail for employees to enjoy while they paint.
For a work Christmas party idea that enables employees to create something beautiful, either for themselves or as a Christmas present, schedule a pottery painting session.
Many local pottery places offer pottery pieces and paint, and most will fire the pieces after you're done painting. If you want to go this route, it can be helpful to pick all the pieces up once they're done in the kiln and bring them to the office.
Outdoor and Adventure Christmas Party Ideas
Whether your local weather allows for an outdoor holiday event or your office is full of adventure enthusiasts, we've rounded up our favorite work Christmas party ideas to satisfy everyone's adrenaline craving.
Bonfire and S'mores
We love the idea of carrying this beloved Fall tradition into the winter months. Invite employees over to your home or book an outdoor venue that allows bonfires. Add a corporate touch to the event by providing catered, gourmet hot dogs. Of course, don't forget the hot chocolate!
Take the company Christmas party to the slopes! If you're working with a larger budget and travel-friendly group of individuals, a ski retreat is an incredible way to end the year and build camaraderie. It's unlikely that everyone involved will enjoy skiing, so choose a venue that offers other activities, whether that's snow tubing or self-care at the spa.
Get everyone moving with a Christmas party at the local ice skating rink. While it may cost a little more upfront to buy tickets for everyone, most rinks are already decorated with festive props so your holiday setup will be minimal to none! Many also provide food and drink options from a nearby food truck or restaurant.
Festive Scavenger Hunt
Send employees on a journey across your company's campus or across the town with this office Christmas party challenge. Curate a list of items each team needs to find and photograph, including the points available for each, or create a series of riddles that lead teams from one clue to the next.
Need a completely out-of-the-box work Christmas party idea? Axe throwing fits the bill! Take your team to a local axe throwing venue and then treat them to dinner afterward-- it's a celebration they're unlikely to forget.
Escape Room Challenge
Escape rooms are ideal for a small business Christmas party where you're trying to plan for a close-knit group of employees. An escape room is also a helpful option if you want to celebrate Christmas without planning an event that focuses on the holiday itself.
Online Work Christmas Party Ideas
Gather around the virtual Christmas tree with these work Christmas party ideas for remote employees. Virtual events can be as elaborate as you want to make them.
Just schedule some time for festive games at the end of a workday for a more casual celebration, or mail each employee a package to participate in your Christmas party activities if you want to host a more involved event.
Holiday Trivia Night
From holiday traditions around the world to well-known quotes from classic Christmas movies, test how much your employees know about Christmas with an online trivia night during your work Christmas party. Employees can compete as individuals or break up into teams.
There are several extensions and websites you can use to hold the virtual event including the Zoom app's meetings.fun and Trivia by Dive. Whatever you decide, test it out beforehand so you're ready to host a fun game without any techy interruptions.
When your employees are spread across the country or across the world, a holiday scavenger hunt is a unique opportunity to bring them together. Before your virtual Christmas party, curate a list of holiday-themed items that employees may be able to find in their home.
During the scavenger hunt, send out the list and see who can collect the most items within your time limit.
For an extra layer of competition, list items one by one and challenge employees to go find each one. The first one back on screen gets a bonus point!
Virtual Secret Santa Gift Exchange
Employees don't have to share an office building to exchange gifts with one another. Why not add a virtual Secret Santa exchange to your list of online Christmas party ideas?
The easiest way to set up this virtual present exchange is to use an online Secret Santa name generator like Elfster, DrawNames, and Sneaky Santa. Anyone interested in participating can have their name and address added. Just set a time frame and spending limit and you're good to go!
Visit with Santa Claus
If your organization is especially family-oriented, consider scheduling a virtual visit with Santa. Santa can read a few books and then speak to children-- either individually or in the group call-- to hear what they would like for Christmas.
Virtual Wine Tastings
Organize an online wine tasting for a classy holiday experience. There are several companies you can work with to design the event, and most will ship wine and host the tasting for you, so all you have to do is provide the contact information for employees and cover the cost.
Bingo is a fun party idea that players can enjoy in a virtual setting. Send out online Bingo cards before the event or use a Bingo game hosted by an app or website. Email each winner a digital gift card since you can't share a tangible prize with them.
Office Christmas Party Dos and Don'ts
A work Christmas party is a chance to strengthen your company climate and emphasize the value you place on your employees, but stepping outside of the typical day-to-day routine of the workplace also allows for more to go wrong.
Following some simple guidelines can help everything flow more smoothly and result in an event everyone enjoys.
Do encourage responsible alcohol consumption.
If your work Christmas party idea includes alcohol, a few choices can help everyone be wise with their consumption.
- Provide safe transportation so everyone makes it home.
- Skip the liquor and only serve beer and wine.
- Hire an experienced bartender to prevent employees from overindulging.
- Provide a limited number of drink tickets per person.
- Offer fun nonalcoholic options beyond water and soda.
- Send a memo before the event with a reminder about your expectations and what professional conduct looks like at events like this.
Don't make celebrations mandatory.
Mandatory fun isn't really all that fun. Employees may not want to join in celebrations for a number of reasons, including religious or personal preferences. If you want to broaden the holiday spirit so that more employees feel inclined to join, widen the theme to include all winter holidays or stick to a strictly seasonal focus, such as a Winter Wonderland.
Do talk to employees about the best time to host your event.
General advice is that the holiday office party should fall within working hours so that celebrations don't become a burden. This works well if your work schedule allows for the Christmas party activities to take place during the workday, but for some organizations that just isn't possible. In addition, keeping your event between the hours of 9-5 may not be possible if it involves an event venue or activities with evening availability.
A quick pulse survey can help you discern the best time to schedule your work Christmas party. You won't be able to accommodate everyone's availability and preferences, but you should be able to plan something that the majority of your employees can attend.
Don't forget to account for dietary preferences and restrictions.
One of the biggest perks of holiday celebrations is the abundance of delicious food, so it can be a bummer when there are few options for people with dietary restrictions. A few common scenarios you might need to consider are vegetarianism, gluten sensitivity, lactose intolerance, diabetes, and food allergies. You don't need to make sure every dish caters to all restrictions, but it can be helpful to ensure there are at least a few options for people who may not be able to eat gluten or are allergic to nuts.
Do schedule the event early.
The month of December fills up quickly. Schedule your work Christmas party within the first week or two to ensure it doesn't conflict with travel plans or family celebrations. Be sure to also inform employees of the date as soon as it's set in stone so you make it on their calendars before other events pop up!
Don't blow your holiday budget.
It may be tempting to go all out as you brainstorm plans for your office Christmas party, but any work Christmas party idea that eats up the majority of the budget leaves little room for holiday bonuses and gifts. Make sure your holiday party doesn't end up costing so much that you aren't able to provide your employees with an individual present.
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