Undoubtedly, 2022 has been an interesting year for most businesses. On the positive side, COVID cases decreased, and consumer spending increased. On the not-so-positive side, labor shortages remained a significant concern, and yet reports of an impending recession caused layoffs and belt-tightening in many sectors. Through it all, employers are struggling to find that "new normal" in their work environment, where some employees stay remote, others come back to the office, and still others work on a hybrid schedule. Whew! No wonder we're tired.
As you manage your "new normal" and prepare for whatever 2023 has in store, planning a holiday party for your team may seem daunting. However, your office holiday party is an opportunity to increase employee satisfaction and retention. A thoughtful and fun holiday party can help your staff feel valued and connected to each other and your brand without spending a ton of money. So, we believe that planning a holiday staff party is crucial to your success in 2023. Let us help you get started with party ideas appropriate for today’s disparate business environments.
In-person Holiday Party Ideas
If your staff is back in the office or you have the opportunity to bring everyone together for a party, your options for a great party are vast. This is not the time to fall back on the old tropes. As much as we love tradition during the holidays, your staff would appreciate it if you put thought and effort into doing something different this year. It shows that you understand just how unprecedented the last couple of years have been and how much you appreciate them sticking with you. Of course, you can still offer elements of tradition (like a gift exchange) in any event theme you choose. Here are some in-person celebration ideas to consider.
Many of us missed going to a theater to see a movie during the pandemic. Rent a local movie theater to watch a new or favorite holiday movie with your employees, coworkers, and clients. Set up a red carpet and step-and-repeat (printed by your favorite on-demand printer 😉) photo opportunity to make your staff feel like movie stars. Supply popcorn, candy, and drinks, or bring in a local caterer to complete the experience.
Outside Activity Day
By hosting the party outside, those employees who are worried about COVID may feel better about attending. Bring your staff to a winter-themed outdoor activity venue like an ice-skating rink or ski lodge for the party. Plan team games and activities and encourage staff to participate in the venue's offerings. Make sure to offer warm drinks and food for extra holiday spirit.
When a group gives back to its community, they become united in a common cause. There are always people in any neighborhood that may only have a happy holiday season with assistance from others. What a terrific way to celebrate the holidays! Bring your staff to a local community kitchen to serve a meal or volunteer to hand out gifts at a homeless shelter. Collect and distribute toys for kids in the foster care system. Call your local Salvation Army or food bank to find out how your team can best help local people in need.
This idea is an oldie-but-goodie celebration that stands the test of time. The holidays aren't holidays without yummy comfort food. Plan a progressive dinner at the office, with each department supplying a favorite holiday-themed dish. Ask each department to decorate their offices featuring the dishes they are serving. Print themed menu boards for each dinner stop and a map/menu handout for participants to follow.
Here's another can't-miss classic that can be incorporated into a larger holiday gathering idea or planned as the star of the show. For most of us, the cameras on our phones get more use than the phone. So, what better way to get to know your coworkers than with holiday photos, complete with silly photo booth props? Most full-service printers, like Phase 3, can create and print a variety of fun photo booth backdrops and props quickly and easily.
Remote Holiday Party Ideas
If your staff is still working remotely or is scattered across the country or globe, planning a holiday party means being creative. Luckily, there are many more opportunities for a fun virtual holiday party now than a few years ago. Here are just a few ideas.
Virtual Holiday Cocktail Party
Here's an updated version of a classic. There are vendors who can help you plan a traditional holiday cocktail party in a virtual setting, or with a printing and distribution partner, you could do this yourself. Before the party, you will need to send each staff member an ingredient list or a kit with the ingredients for the cocktails you will make during the party. You should plan to make several different alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks. At the event, your bartending host will teach your staff how to make each holiday drink and lead a virtual tasting. In between lessons and tastings, play fun holiday games, music, and movies to engage your participants.
Paint & Sip
A virtual paint-and-sip event is fun if you want something creative to do as a team. Send each teammate a kit that includes a small canvas, paints, and brushes. You can assemble the kit yourself or find a vendor to assemble and send the kits for you. At the event, have an art instructor lead the painting class and encourage participants to share their creations.
Team Trivia Competition
Trivia is a great virtual event idea that engages almost everyone in the spirit of competition and team pride. There are virtual event vendors who can plan and run this event for you, or you can plan it yourself using readily available online trivia questions. For an extra festive touch, theme the event to holiday or winter trivia. Encourage teams to work together to answer the questions in smaller virtual rooms and then come together to compare answers. Play music during the event to keep the energy up.
Here is another easy virtual event idea that almost everyone will love. Print branded holiday BINGO cards and send them to your staff members along with markers and other fun game tokens before the event. Make sure to find a charismatic and engaging host for the BINGO game during your virtual event. At the event, encourage staff members to play along and call out their progress. If you have a large group, break them into smaller virtual rooms to encourage more participation.
Virtual Secret Santa
This idea is a remote twist to a classic in-person holiday event. Here's how it works. First, randomly match your staff members up and provide a budget for a gift purchase. Then, send each name to the matched staff member along with the address to send a gift with a note "from your Secret Santa." At the virtual party, have staff members take turns opening their gifts and guessing who sent them.
Hybrid Holiday Event Ideas
Hybrid events can be very daunting to plan and manage. You want to include everyone, but those who are in-person will have different event needs than those who are virtual. Their experiences are bound to be different. How can you make sure they are both positive? Here are some ideas.
Ugly Sweater Contest
Everyone loves an ugly holiday sweater. And the ugliness is just as fun over video as in person. Make sure you give every person (virtual and in person) their time when asking for contestants to model their sweaters. Create categories like best ugly reindeer and best ugly Santa to give staff multiple opportunities to win. Ask all participants to vote on the winners. After the event, print and send or digitally send each winner a photo of them in their winning sweater.
Team Award Show
This is your chance to have your own version of the Dundies Awards. Before the event, brainstorm a list of serious and not-so-serious award ideas and have every staff member vote on the winners. Make sure to include some awards featuring remote work. Here are some examples:
- Best virtual background
- Best child/pet video bomb during a virtual meeting
- Best use of Slack channel
At the event, offer a funny prize or trophy for each award, give each winner a chance to say a few words, and play fun music. After the event, print and send or digitally send each winner an award certificate along with a photo of them accepting their award.
This is a fun, competitive holiday game. For in-person players, provide wrapping paper, scissors, and tape. For virtual participants, ask them to have those items available. To start the games, give the in-person players a random object (easily found in most households) like a pen, stapler, remote control, or can opener. Ask the virtual participants to find that item in their homes. Then, give each participant one minute to wrap the item. Finally, ask a judge to determine who wrapped each item the best.
Holiday Card Activity
Before the event, print branded holiday cards with an uplifting message and send a stack to each virtual participant with markers, stickers, and other decorations. Collect extra cards and supplies for the in-person event. At the event, invite in-person and virtual participants to decorate and write encouraging holiday messages in the cards for local families and individuals in need. Play holiday music and encourage participants to tell stories of how their families celebrate the holidays. After the event, collect all the cards and send them to local nonprofits like homeless shelters and food pantries to distribute to their clients.
In the wake of a tumultuous year, the holidays are an excellent time for you to celebrate and appreciate your team and the great work they do every day. No matter how you celebrate this year, plan to include fun activities that allow everyone to connect, engage and relax. A positive experience during the holidays can set your team and your business up for success in 2023.
If you would like assistance bringing your holiday party vision to life, the experts at Phase 3 are here to help. Contact us today.