Last weekend we went to my husband's company Christmas party. I look forward to it every year because it's always fun and there's the potential to come back with some serious Christmas cash. Besides that, it's fun to get together – since it's a small office, it's like family. There are about 30 this year. I've attended parties for hundreds with an emcee and live entertainment. We all got incredible gifts or they held drawings for large prizes. Other years it was a simple potluck (didn't like). Or nothing (really didn't like). I love to leave a small gift like a festive cupcake at every place setting.
We've had formal events (I hear Adobe gives everyone an allowance to get a dress or a tux), at fancy restaurants or catered dinners, but most of the time it's casual. There is always room for an ugly Christmas sweater theme or tacky Christmas attire, or something like that.
The company Christmas party is a time when you can build loyalty and help make employees feel appreciated. It can help you get to know each other in a way that you can't otherwise. Don't pass it up. You may want to ask for volunteers to help out with the music, decor, food, and games. If you have it in an office be sure to decorate and transform the atmosphere so it feels more festive and not like work.
Who wants a boring office party?! NOT ME! If you're employees are boring you'll have to spend on entertainment, if they're not, include them in the fun! Here are some ideas to get you thinking…
Company Christmas Party Ideas
Money Bags – Pull Some Big Bills
Every year my husband's boss has the money pull game. He has a bag full of cash – some $1 bills, some $5, $10, $20, $50 and even $100s. Of course there are more $1 than $100 bills. You can only pull one bill out of the bag and you cannot look. We go around the room and we each get 10 tries. There is always more cash than we draw. I won almost $150 this year. The twist is, this is only for the spouses or guest of the employees, not for the employees. It makes us feel a part of everything. Since I work for myself this is my only Christmas party and it's wonderful that we're included.
Normally he has a trade for the people who got the lowest amount. They can either keep the cash or trade for an envelope. It usually either has cash or gift cards he got from Costco. Sometimes it's more than they already got, sometimes it's less.
Cash Pizzas – Give out Some Dough
In addition to having the money bag, there's always a gift for the admin staff and it always has cash in it too. I've been spoiled to think that Christmas parties must involve a lot of cash. One year the boss hid money inside hollowed out pieces of chocolate. So they opened the box of chocolate and they were surprised. This year I feel like he outdid himself – there were money pizzas. These were actual pizza boxes that were wrapped up like a gift but instead of pizza inside there were 100 dollar bills. Of course you don't have to go that big – any cash will be appreciated.
“The best part about the pizza is the dough.”
Tiny Prints (affiliate) has a list of fun office game ideas. They want to remind you that the purpose of an office party is to learn about your coworkers and to keep it fun (make people laugh).
“An office holiday party is a chance for colleagues to celebrate the past year of hard work while using the time to get to know each other outside of their daily tasks. That said, make sure you choose a game that allows for the staff to learn tidbits about their colleagues that they most likely wouldn’t learn during work hours.”
Funniest Christmas Presents: True or Not?
This is like true or false. You can bring up that time you got pink striped piglet pjs with bon bons and cupcakes on them and matching slippers. It may be true (this was an actual gift I got one year), or it may be a joke. You have to guess. If you go to this post on the Tiny Prints website, they have a list of all sorts of party game ideas along with all the details about how to organize the game. Besides the party ideas, they have fun gift wrapping ideas – including personalized gift wrap that could have your company logos printed on it. Or their Kraft paper with a simple red bow and labels. This will add a lot of class to your event! They also have the best business party invites.
Take a Swing at a Gift Card Piñata
Think piñata is just for birthday parties? Think again. This game will make your next company party more entertaining. Ideally you make it in the shape of a company mascot or character. You’ll be surprised that taking a whack at something is a great stress-relieving activity. Fill the pinata with money, gift certificates for nearby lunch spots, spa or massage gift cards, movie tickets, candy bars, and maybe even free product from the company. Use a bat to strike the piñata, bring a blindfold and put it on a string so you can move the pinata up and down while everyone takes a swing. Play some music, have a ball. I have actually seen this done in a parking lot with a small crane dangling the pinata and spotlights on it.
Do a Gift Exchange
I love a gift exchange. We usually set a limit of $20. Everyone draws a number when they come through the door. You go in the order of the number you drew. You can open a present or take one that's already opened. When a gift has been stolen twice then it can't be stolen again and the person must open a new gift. You can do a white elephant type of exchange but I prefer new gifts. We brought Unicorn Gold and a Squatty Potty which got everyone talking. The person who won was pretty pleased with her take!
At OrangeSoda Jay Bean was fond of sending us on scavenger hunts. Or something like that. He'd give prizes for the first person to tweet the answer to his question and include a certain hashtag. Or he'd ask someone to bring a safety pin or some other random object. It has been a long time and I can't remember a lot of the details, but that game was fun.
Hold a Funny Employee Awards Ceremony
For a fun way to recognize employees – host your own awards ceremony. Fun Awards by Larry Weaver has nicely designed awards for a reasonable price. You can download them so they work even last minute. There are over 100 to choose from and even templates so you can make your own. Give an award to the person who is always late, has the most creative office lunches or takes the best selfies.
You can either choose the winners yourself or hold a secret vote beforehand to determine the winners. Try to get photos of the winners to show on a screen. Give the award with an appropriately themed gift to make it even more fun. A blogger might want a gift card to Canva for example. Amazon gift cards (affiliate) are always appreciated because you can use them for anything from a tripod and lighting for your photography setup to a new wireless mouse or phone case.
I like this award best:
Secret Santa exchange at some point is simple but builds a lot of goodwill. Everyone in the office anonymously draws the name of one co-worker. They then buy an inexpensive gift for that person. The idea is to stalk that person on social media and try to get something you KNOW they will love. Their favorite snacks, look at their hobbies, and see if you can learn their favorite colors, so you can give a gift that they'll appreciate. Someone needs to pair people up and tell them who they will Secret Santa. Have each employee bring their Secret Santa gift all wrapped up and labeled with the person's name they got. Have a table for the gifts and have them bring the gift with them the night of the party. The gift can stay a secret OR you can have each person bring two gifts. Open one later in the office and have that one reveal who the Secret Santa is.
Bring your favorite business or marketing book and do a gift exchange with just books. Of course it can be any book, or a theme. The idea is to pass on books. I would ask each person to include a card explaining why they are giving that book or have the person who brought the gift say a little something about it. Draw names out of a hat and let each employee pick a gift. This works well in smaller groups because it won't take all night.
Other offices include a charity and invite employees to give to sponsor a family in need or to benefit an organization that needs help this time of year (like a food bank).
Whatever you do, take pictures. This is a great way to talk about milestones, celebrate and remember all that you've done this year as a group.
Do these company Christmas party ideas and games inspire you? I'd love to hear about your favorite parties.