9 Creative Ways to Spice Up Your Holiday Office Party

by Tiffany Bloodworth Rivers on November 16, 2018

The annual holiday office party sometimes gets a bad rap, but it’s still a great way to boost morale and make memories.

And while ugly sweater contests are definitely a solid go-to holiday office party tradition, this year, we recommend switching things up a bit.

Need some great ideas? Here are eight traditions worth trying this year.

Thanksgiving ‘Around the World’ Potluck

Depending on their culture and even the region where they grew up, most people have their own take on traditional Thanksgiving staples.

Ever tried sweet potato gnocchi from Italy? Chinese-inspired dim sum dumplings?

Sharing unique recipes with coworkers is a great opportunity to spark conversation and promote diversity.

Food Truck Facades

Food trucks are a big deal — especially in Texas, where the iOFFICE headquarters is. One cool holiday office party theme is to create your own indoor food truck park. The logistics of finding a large enough space to accommodate multiple food trucks could prove difficult, however. That’s why some companies have food truck employees set up shop indoors behind temporary displays designed to look like the side of a food truck.

You can even circle them around a bunch of picnic tables to make it feel more like an authentic food truck park.

Company-Themed White Elephant

A standard white elephant gift exchange is always a crowd-pleaser. But if you want to make it a bit more personal, have employees buy gifts associated with your company, its culture and its community. For example, for iOFFICE, this might mean presents related to dogs since we’re a dog-friendly workplace. You can also have remote employees call in via video conferencing so they can still participate.

Second-Rate Secret Santa

Like the previous office party theme, this idea is a new take on an old standby. In “Second-rate Secret Santa”, employees still secretly buy a gift for coworkers, but instead of giving them something they’d actually want, employees buy each other an item they know their colleague will totally hate—in the best way.

The goal in Second-rate Secret Santa isn’t just to give an objectively bad gift that no one would like. Instead, employees should try to find something their recipient has a personal aversion to because it shows the recipient that the giver has taken the time to get to know them. Aim for laughter (or at least a loud groan).

Themed Photos

This is an easy way to get some fun photos for your company’s social media sites.

You can set a theme for your holiday office party in advance or just stick with photo booth-style props. A few fun themes worth considering:

  • Lumberjack party
  • Pajama party
  • A very 80s Christmas
  • Holly jolly dog party
  • Tropical holiday getaway
  • Dress as your favorite holiday movie character (and make each photo resemble a mugshot to make this even more fun)

Volunteering or Attending a Charity Event

A great way to create some holiday cheer and encourage team-building is by volunteering. ‘Tis the season of giving, after all! Your local food pantry or soup kitchen is almost always in need of help, especially when the temperatures start to drop. (Just make sure you contact them well in advance to make sure you’ll actually be helping, not getting in the way.) There are also plenty of holiday-themed charity events you can attend, such as Jingle Bells runs and pub crawls. You can even partner with other businesses in the community to host your own.

Host a Toy, Coat or Food Drive

If your team is a bit too big to coordinate an entire charity outing, you can host a toy, coat or food drive instead. You can either have employees buy and donate items on their own or make it a friendly competition between departments to see who can donate the most. Either way, you get to share in the spirit of the season and help someone in your community have a better holiday.

Holiday Craft Contest

Another way to spark some friendly competition and fuel creativity is to host a holiday craft contest. Choose one craft—like holiday wreaths or stockings—and set a time for everyone who wants to participate. You can get everyone together during lunch, or, if your team is too large, have them take their items home to decorate. Then put them on display around the office and have everyone vote on their favorite.

Make a Year in Review Video

Ask employees to submit photos and videos from various company events over the past year and have them compiled into a fun video. You can also have someone interview employees about their favorite moments, both professional and personal. This is a good way to hear more about what other departments are doing, and it’s also good for getting remote employees in on the holiday fun.

You might also want to get your marketing department on board to create a short holiday video to send to clients. It can be a funny video or just a sincere “thank you” video.

What are some of your favorite office holiday traditions? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter! 


Tiffany Bloodworth Rivers

Tiffany covers leadership and marketing topics and enjoys learning about how technology shapes our industry. Before iOFFICE, she worked in local news but don't hold that against her.

Capterra Ratings: ★★★★★ 4.5/5