15 office holiday party ideas for a festive work celebration

Five coupe glasses are held out as a bottle of liquor is poured into them.
Paperless Post BlogHolidays > 15 office holiday party ideas for a festive work celebration

They say it’s the most wonderful time of the year, but did “they” ever find themselves in charge of the office holiday party? If you’re hosting the office party this year, we’re here to ensure that your event leaves employees, clients, and volunteers feeling appreciated, danced-out, and maybe a teeny bit hungover. 

This guide combines tips from holiday planning experts with all the details you need to know—from the most thoughtful time to host to setting the right tone to a party-planning timeline that will help you stay on schedule, as well as some remote-friendly tips and tricks thrown in for those digital nomads. So break out the dreidels, the ugly sweaters, and your holiday spirit, and get ready to plan the ultimate party.


Office holiday party ideas

Several mugs of hot chocolate with various sweet toppings like marshmallows, chocolate chips, and candy canes.
Image via Crowded Kitchen.


Is your office more of an ugly sweater type, or a wine-and-cheese group? Fiona Leahy, professional event planner and designer, says “There’s no one type of ‘festive’! If you are a minimal brand, then stick to that. Keep things authentic, but most importantly, fun and on-brand.”

If you want everyone to talk about your epic office holiday party for months to come (in a good way!), these company holiday party ideas will get your team in the spirit. You’ll also find a few ideas for food and drink, themed décor suggestions from Paperless Post Party Shop, and some inspiration on how to host these as virtual holiday party ideas for work too.


Meet the experts
Whitney Wu is the Director of People Operations at Paperless Post.
Fiona Leahy is a professional event planner and designer.
Ren Akinci Ren Akinci is the EVP, People & Culture Officer at Emerald (EEX).


1. Ugly sweater party

Whether it’s bright green with a picture of Santa’s face or a thick wool sweater your grandma knit for you, we’ve all owned one at some point. Tap into your team’s humorous side by throwing the ultimate corporate holiday party theme where everyone wears an ugly sweater.

  • Food: Make or find ugly sweater cookies to keep the theme going.
  • Drink: Serve up some holiday-colored sparkling punch.
  • Décor: String up some folksy woodland garland across your venue.
  • Activity: Host a runway competition and give prizes for the sweater voted ugliest.
  • Make it remote: Challenge your team to an ugly sweater selfie contest, and stage ridiculous holiday background scenes for maximum hilarity.


2. Cookie or gingerbread decorating 

Left: Two pairs of hands decorate Christmas cookies with red and white icing. Right: An invitation for a cookie decorating party has a gold laurel made of holly and a bow with a space to upload a logo or monogram in between.
Image via Adobe; “Holly Laurel” by Paperless Post.


Throwing a cookie or gingerbread decorating party is a delicious way to kick off the season. The best part? You can eat your mistakes!

  • Food: Include festive appetizers, such as a holiday cheese ball, along with cookies.
  • Drink: Add yummy sugar cookie martinis to the cocktail menu.
  • Décor: What better decoration for a cookie party than a gingerbread man table accent?
  • Activity: For the more competitive members of your team, make a contest where the best cookie or gingerbread house wins.
  • Make it remote: Have cookie ingredients delivered to team members’ houses, or set a time when everyone can pick them up from their local grocery store. Then start the contest together on Zoom.


3. A wine-and-cheese tasting party

Cheese-and-wine tasting parties are a classy way to feed guests while they mingle and participate in a shared activity. 

  • Food: Set up a cheese-centric charcuterie board for the cheesemongers in your department.
  • Drink: Have a variety of wines available as well as non-alcoholic drinks.
  • Décor: Hang up Christmas honeycomb decorations for a touch of class.
  • Activity: Hire a sommelier to guide your team through the nuances of chardonnay and pinot noir.
  • Make it remote: Deliver an array of cheeses and wines to your employees. Then host a Zoom call where you can savor the flavors together. 


4. A night at the theater

Fantastic holiday parties don’t have to be confined to conference rooms or the break area. Take your team to see a classic holiday show like “The Nutcracker” or “A Christmas Carol” for a treat outside of the office, instead.  

  • Food: Movie nights are all about the popcorn, so prepare some Christmas crunch.
  • Drink: Poinsettia cocktails bring the holiday spirit(s) to your party.
  • Décor: Bring some treats to the theater for families with peppermint candy surprise balls.
  • Activity: Rent out a movie theater showing a Christmas classic—yes, “Die Hard” counts—or the latest holiday blockbuster. For a low-key option, use a projector to play a movie big enough for everyone to see, no matter where you’re partying. 
  • Make it remote: Take a poll to find out the most popular holiday movie among your team, then stream it together! You can even download an extension like Teleparty so that all your coworkers can comment on the screen while watching.


5. Volunteering

Left: An invitation reads “Please join us to help serve our community” with a collaged border of “farm-to-table” items including livestock, vegetables, and serveware. Right: People appear to handle cans of soup and fruit at a soup kitchen donation center.
Farmers Feast” by Paperless Post; Image via Joel Muniz.


Whether it’s arranging a day for your team to volunteer at the local food bank or picking up trash from the side of the highway, your coworkers will appreciate the opportunity to band together while building a better world. 

  • Food: French onion cups are easy to take with you, no matter where the party goes.
  • Drink: Serve gingerbread lattes for the warm, fuzzy feelings.
  • Décor: Hand out felt holly headbands for on-the-go decor.
  • Activity: Look up local volunteering opportunities (homeless shelters, missions, animal shelters, nursing homes, adult education organizations, libraries) based on your team’s interests and passions.
  • Make it remote: Empower your remote employees by setting a day or two aside for everyone to work a phone bank for a local nonprofit, health department, or voting board.


6. Casino night

Recreate the glitzy look and feel of Las Vegas or Atlantic City with a casino night party for your team. 

  • Food: Waitstaff can pass out portable appetizers like sausage cheese balls from table to table.
  • Drink: Christmas mimosas make a great addition to any holiday party, at any time of day.
  • Décor: Set up casino tables and decorate with casino imagery (chips, playing cards, bright lights).
  • Activities: Keep it simple with traditional card games like poker or blackjack—feel free to only play with chips and keep actual cash out of it—or up the ante and rent a roulette wheel.
  • Make it remote: Everyone loves a good game—but instead of poker or blackjack, create an online gaming tournament with fun options like Scribbl.io, Among Us, and Quiplash.


7. Jingle bell rock

Left: A copper cocktail shaker pours red liquid into stemless glasses garnished with holly and cranberries beside cinnamon and a copper jigger. Right: A holiday party invitation with gold text and line drawings of a martini glass, rocks glass, and cocktail shaker with red garnishes.
Image via The College Housewife; “Montmorency” by Paperless Post.


A live band can enliven any party, whether they play holiday tunes or otherwise. If you’re going with a Christmas theme and have the funds, you can also hire a small ensemble of professional carolers. 

  • Food: Pass around bacon-wrapped dates for a palate-pleaser.
  • Drink: Consider serving homemade spiced rum while your hired entertainers perform.
  • Décor: Set out peppermint placemats for the ultimate holiday vibes.
  • Activities: In between music sets, hire a Santa impersonator to circulate around the room or ask for Christmas wishes.
  • Make it remote: Many entertainment companies are more than willing to do online performances, encouraging audience participation and merrymaking across the internet.


8. Bundle up for an outdoor winter wonderland

If you live near a resort, consider taking your team skiing, snowboarding, sledding, ice skating, or simply out to sip cozy drinks at the lodge. These are also great for kids and adults if you choose to host a family-friendly holiday activity.

  • Food: A pig in a blanket wreath looks—and tastes—like a party.
  • Drink: Serve up steamy hot chocolate to warm up between winter activities.
  • Décor: Decorate with cute house napkins for that homey feel.
  • Activity: Organize a (friendly) interdepartmental snowball fight or sledding competition.
  • Make it remote: If a trip isn’t an option, send your employees a wintry care package to enjoy together, such as a hot cocoa kit, a woodsy-scented candle, a cozy sweater or blanket, or a gift card for a food delivery service—perfect for when it’s too cold to go to a restaurant.


9. Decorate the halls (in the office)

Left: A green invitation for “GKS’s 7th annual company holiday party” has a wide interior border of holly, fir sprigs, and gold berries. Right: Four people hold glasses and sparklers near a tablw of food in a room with white string lights.
Berry Merry” by Paperless Post; Image via Nicole Michalou.


Create a holiday atmosphere by adorning the office with festive designer decorations. Allow employees to deck the halls, their desks, and the break room with tinsel, paper snowflakes, stockings, string lights, and Chanukiahs.

  • Food: Serve spicy cranberry meatballs for a holiday twist on a party classic.
  • Drink: A peppermint White Russian puts just the right taste in guests’ mouths.
  • Décor: Put up designer decorations and ornaments or employee-made creations early in the season to enjoy all month long.
  • Activity: Bring a little paint, glue, and glitter for everyone on your team to decorate a tree ornament with their name on it.
  • Make it remote: Send your team ornament-making kits complete with glitter, paint, markers, and tinsel. Make ornaments together on Zoom and show off your artistic skills. 


Holiday office party games

Left: Two people wrap presents in Christmas wrapping paper with gold and green ribbons. Right: A navy blue invitations for a “White elephant exchange” has an Art Deco-inspired border with delicate gold holly leaves and fir sprigs.
Image via Roman Odintsov; “Deco the Halls” by Paperless Post.


Inspire laughter, memories, and tons of fun by adding a few activities that align with a general theme—from white elephant to toilet paper Santa.


10. White elephant

An office holiday staple, the white elephant game is a fun way to exchange gifts of varying expense. 

To play:

  • Tell guests to bring in a wrapped gift of an agreed-upon value—typically $20 or less.
  • At the party, have guests choose numbers out of a hat. The person who chose number one picks a gift to unwrap first.
  • The next guest can “steal” the gift or open a new one.
  • Each guest after that has the same choice: Steal an unwrapped gift or open a new one.


11. Holiday scavenger hunt

Set up a holiday scavenger hunt in your office building or party venue for a fun activity that gets employees out of their desk seats. 

To start:

  • Create lists of items found around the building—both easy and hard to find.
  • Give individual guests or teams a list and a set amount of time to find as many items as they can.
  • Guests either gather around or take pictures of the items on the list.
  • Have a festive prize ready for the employee or team with the most items checked off the list.


12. Toilet paper Santa

You’ve decorated the tree and the halls—now it’s time to decorate your coworkers. 

Here’s how it works:

  • Split your guests into teams and give each team a roll of toilet paper.
  • Set a timer for a few minutes.
  • With one team member posing as “Santa,” the rest of the team drapes them with toilet paper to create Santa’s beard, hat, and coat.
  • Have all the Santas model their outfits and give a prize to the winning team.


13. Secret Santa

An online invitation for a Secret Santa party is light green on the left with a faint snowflake shape behind the type, and on the right, an animationof a fir tree branch with red ball ornaments and the words “Deck the Halls.”
Deck the Halls” Flyer by Paperless Post.


Add some intrigue to your office holiday party with a classic Secret Santa game.

To play:

  • Ask guests about their preferences—favorite foods, favorite stores, favorite hobbies—and write them down to pass out.
  • A few weeks before the party, have guests choose the name of another guest randomly, either by drawing a name from a hat or using a service like Elfster.
  • Tell guests to buy a gift for the person they picked based on their favorite items.
  • At the party, let guests exchange gifts privately or in a group setting.
  • For added fun, have guests open their gifts without knowing who gave them, and give them a small prize if they guess their Secret Santa correctly.


14. Office escape room

If your coworkers love a good puzzle and work well together, an office escape room is the perfect game for a holiday work party. 

To set it up:

  • Find an escape room kit or design your own escape room with pieces of office trivia.
  • Split your guests into teams—around five people per team is best—and set a timer for one hour.
  • Let guests try to solve the mystery!


15. Guess that holiday song

Can your coworkers guess a holiday song or Christmas carol in just a few seconds?

To test them:

  • Create a playlist of holiday songs and Christmas carols—include a variety of artists, release years, and genres.
  • Hand out paper and pencils to guests.
  • Play a few seconds of each song—less time for more popular songs, more time for obscure or hard-to-guess songs.
  • Give one point for each correct title and another point for each correct artist.
  • Hand out prizes to winners.


What makes for a good office holiday party?

It doesn’t take much to throw a successful work holiday party. What’s important is team bonding and celebrating your successes together in a relaxed environment. Whether you keep it simple or shoot for the stars, here are a few aspects to consider for your company holiday party so it goes off without a hitch.



Even if your coworkers all work in the same room, it’s important to send actual invitations for your office holiday party. They let your team know the when, the what, and the where of your party, not to mention key details like dress code, themes, itinerary, and whether plus-ones are welcome. 

Send them quickly and conveniently with Paperless Post—there are hundreds of designs to choose from. Our holiday invitation collection has beautiful cards for traditional, funny, or family-friendly events. 


Guest list

It’s always a good idea to invite every employee, so nobody feels left out. Assure your remote employees that if they choose not to attend an in-person party, you will stream it all on Zoom. 

Ren Akinci, EVP, People & Culture Officer, at Emerald (EEX) likes bringing the whole team together. “I think people love being in person with their entire team on an annual basis. So often, depending on where you are, if you’re working hybrid or remote, it’s highly likely that you’ve never met in person. It’s important to meet in person because it can change the whole dynamic, there’s more energy, you can chat with them, and you can plan activities. Bringing people together in person has been the most impactful for us.”

But what about plus-ones? If you have a big office, consider limiting the guest list to employees. While it can be tempting to have a “the more, the merrier” mentality, keep in mind that including significant others can double your budget, as well as hinder coworkers from getting to know one another on a personal level.

However, if your employees travel a lot for work or log long hours, consider including their plus one to show that your company appreciates all they do. 



Your party venue dictates your activities, decor, menu, and party size. A workplace or bar setting is more appropriate for celebrating employees, an upscale dinner makes clients feel extra special, and an event space with room for speeches is better for reflecting company culture and appreciation. For a more unique space, rent an apartment or loft from Peerspace, Appear Here, AirBnB, or The Venue Report.

If your holiday party is virtual, find an online game hosting site like Let’s Roam—a virtual treasure hunt game—or Gloww, which hosts online trivia.


Date and time

Set the date as soon as you can. Employees have lives outside of work and will probably be juggling a busy end-of-year social schedule, so the earlier they can put yours in their calendars, the easier their December will be. 

The first or second week in December is best for office holiday parties, ideally on a Thursday or Friday. 

Be thoughtful about the time of your event, especially for commuters or people with families. A good rule of thumb is to start your party an hour before your business typically closes for the day.


Holiday party planning timeline

Whitney Wu, Director, People Operations at Paperless Post, likes to start planning holiday parties early. “I think it’s really important for us to get those dates on the calendar super early, so we start planning during the summer. Because we have so many remote employees, we’ve solidified the dates for fall and holiday parties early on so that many more people can plan their lives and travel.” 

When it comes to the planning process, a sample timeline might look like this:

  • Three months before: Create a planning committee to choose a theme and set a date. Delegate decorations, food and drinks, décor and atmosphere, activities and entertainment, and set up and clean up among committee members. Get the final budget approved.
  • Two months before: Reserve location and rentals. Book the caterer, bartender, DJ, band, photo booth, or photographer. Send save the dates.
  • One month before: Send classic invitation Cards to set a more formal tone, or send a Flyer if you’d like to use your own email provider. Include theme, dress code, and any other pertinent details. Plan décor and order any branded accessories—napkins, cups with company logo, etc. Decide on a menu with your caterer.
  • One to two weeks before: Create a party playlist. Check in with the planning committee to iron out any remaining details—don’t forget the ice! Confirm details with vendors.
  • Day before: Do a walkthrough of the space to check on decorations, lighting, and furniture rentals. Paperless Post Cards and Flyers automatically remind guests the party is almost here! Determine your final headcount with our RSVP feature. 
  • Party day: Remind employees about the party at the office. Leave early to ensure the space is party-ready before guests arrive. Do a walkthrough of the space. If you don’t have a photographer, take lots of pictures before the party really gets going. And again, make sure there is plenty of ice at the bar. And have fun!


More office party planning tips

Need a little more guidance for the big night? Follow these work holiday party planning suggestions for the best—and most organized—office holiday party ever.

  • Know your budget: Gather and confirm quotes from your largest vendors—venue, catering, bartenders, DJ, photographer—first. Then you’ll know what you can spend on décor, activities, and gifts. Break out the spreadsheet for this and update it whenever you have a final cost. Reserve 15% of the budget for wiggle room.
  • Set the tone: Let your guests know the theme with your invitation. Will this be a more formal, jackets-and-ties sort of night or a kitschy ugly sweater party? Make the tone clear so no one shows up wearing the wrong work holiday party outfit. Send a Flyer instead of a more formal Card, so you can customize your invitation with animated text and images, and send it through your own email provider.
  • Serve appetizers instead of meals: Appetizers keep people mingling without breaking up the celebratory flow with a sit-down meal or long buffet line. Friendly reminders: Guests should be able to eat an appetizer with one hand, and don’t ask them to help prepare or pay for the meal. After all, you’re celebrating them!
  • Hire a bartender: The last thing you want to do is task an employee, or yourself, with mixing drinks all night. Consider asking your bartender to throw together a signature cocktail and name it after a company-wide joke or office mascot. Be aware of drinking safety; you want people to have fun—without regrets.
  • Decorate your space: A few decorative items can transform any space into a holiday party venue, whether you’ve booked a room at a swanky restaurant or you’re celebrating in the office cafeteria. Setting a theme, like Winter Wonderland, can help the decorations fall into place.


Let Paperless Post help you celebrate the holiday season

Whether you’re exchanging Secret Santa gifts in a conference room or enjoying a night at the theater, your work holiday party will bring warmth to your employees during the cold season. Digital invitations from Paperless Post can help you set the tone of your holiday party before it even starts, keep track of how many people can make it, and more.

Our holiday party invitation collection will fit any theme, while maintaining a spirit of inclusivity for all. And we’ve gathered the best Christmas and holiday party invitation wording ideas that include options for all different types of holiday parties. When you choose invites from Paperless Post, we’ll do the heavy lifting while you sit back, savor the season, and let the RSVPs roll in.


Browse Company Holiday Party Invitations