You know how important it is for everyone on your team to come together, even if it’s just gathering around a box of sweets that suddenly appears in the break room. But especially these days, when so many colleagues are scattered all over, it’s important to plan something extra special for everyone to enjoy—and there’s no better time to do it than the holidays.
This guide will take you through ten work Christmas party ideas and how to throw the ultimate Christmas party, with some remote-friendly tips and tricks thrown in as well. (Speaking of—if you’re looking for a more complete guide to remote office holiday parties, we’ve got that too.) So break out the dreidels, the ugly sweaters, and your holiday spirit, and get ready to plan a fun and memorable work holiday party.
”Holiday Bar Cart” Flyer.
What makes for a good company holiday party?
Before we dive into holiday or Christmas party themes for work, let’s take a look at what makes for a good holiday party. Truly, it doesn’t take much to throw a successful work 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 you should consider for your company holiday party:
— Games and activities: Inspire laughter, memories, and tons of fun by adding a few activities to the office party schedule that align with your general party theme—from Secret Santa, to holiday Pictionary.
— Food and beverages: Be sure to serve up festive food and drinks at your work holiday party.
After all, the holidays are a special time of year—not only for the spirit of the season but for the delicious treats and libations, too.
— Decor: 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.
— Invitations: Invitations are essential to any holiday celebration. They let your team know the when, the what, and the where of your party, not to mention key details like dress code, themes, and the itinerary. Send them quickly and conveniently with Paperless Post—there are hundreds of business holiday invitation designs to choose from.
“From Desk ‘Til Dawn” by Paperless Post.
9 Work holiday party ideas
Now that you know all the ingredients of a work holiday soirée, here are a few company Christmas party ideas that will get your team, both remote and in-person, in the holiday spirit.
— Ugly sweater party
One of the most beloved symbols of the holiday season is the ugly sweater. 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 a party where everyone wears an ugly sweater, then offer prizes for the sweater voted ugliest.
Thankfully, ugly sweaters can still be fun and festive in a digital venue—you can even take it up a notch. Challenge your team to an ugly sweater selfie contest, encouraging staging ridiculous holiday background scenes for maximum hilarity. Have your team send their selfies to the host before the digital party. Then the host can share their screen to reveal each selfie. Be sure to record your coworkers’ reactions—it’ll make for an extremely memorable company photo!
— Cookie or gingerbread decorating
If there’s one aspect of the holidays that’s Scrooge-proof, it’s the bounty of sweets to eat. Throwing a cookie or gingerbread decorating party is a delicious way to kick off the season. For the more competitive members of your team, make a contest where the best cookie or gingerbread house wins. The best part? You can eat your mistakes!
Arrange for all the ingredients your team needs to be delivered to their houses or set a time when everyone can pick them up from their local grocery store. Then, start the contest together on a Zoom call.
— A wine and cheese tasting party
One of the easiest ways to stoke the flames of good cheer is to eat delicious food. Nothing brings out the inner connoisseur in us than cheese and wine. Cheese and wine tasting parties are a classy way to feed guests, as well as get them talking and participating in a shared activity. Consider hiring an expert to guide your team through the nuances of chardonnay and brie.
If you’re still WFH, arrange for an array of cheeses and wines to be delivered to your employees. Then, you can either hire an expert to guide you through the pairings, or arrange for everyone to meet on a Zoom call where you can simply savor the flavors together.
— A night at the theatre
Fantastic holiday parties don’t have to be confined to conference rooms or the break area. One of the best ways you can show you appreciate your team is by taking them to see a classic holiday show like “The Nutcracker” or “A Christmas Carol.”
If you’re looking for something slightly more casual, rent out a movie theater where they’re showing a Christmas classic (yes, “Die Hard” counts) or the latest holiday blockbuster. Or for an even more low-key option, use a projector to play a movie big enough for everyone to see, no matter where you’re partying.
Can’t enjoy some holiday entertainment in person? No problem. 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.
“Farmer’s Feast” by Paperless Post.
There’s no more fulfilling way to spend the holidays than giving back to the community. 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 show they care about building a better world. Here’s an (non-exhaustive) list of places to volunteer your time:
— Homeless shelters and missions
— Animal shelters
— Adult education organizations
— Nursing homes
Empower your remote employees by setting a day or two aside for everyone to phone bank for a local nonprofit, health department, or voting board. You can do this job remotely, so everyone can feel safe and secure.
Want to know how you can add a little cheer? Order everyone on your team a pizza and snacks to be delivered to their home.
— Casino night
Recreate the glitzy look and feel of Las Vegas or Atlantic City by throwing a casino night party for your team. You can keep it simple by offering traditional card games like poker or blackjack that your guests will love (feel free to play solely with chips and keep actual cash out of it). Or, you can up the ante and rent a roulette wheel. Whatever you decide, these are the essentials you’ll need:
— Plastic poker chips
— Playing cards
— Buffet-style food and snacks
— Cocktails and mocktails
— Someone dressed up like a dealer
Everyone loves a good game—but instead of poker or blackjack, create an online gaming tournament with some fun games like:
— Among Us
— Quiplash or other JackBox games
— Hire entertainers
While clowns might not be age-appropriate (and are, at times, terrifying), there are plenty of other entertainment options for a work holiday party. 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, hire a small ensemble of professional carolers. Here’s a short list of some other options:
— Elvis impersonator
— Santa Claus
Many entertainment companies are more than willing to do online performances, encouraging audience participation and merrymaking across the internet. It might sound a little hokey, but it’s surprisingly fun.
— Bundle up and head outside
One of the most fun work Christmas party ideas? A wintery vacation! If you live near a resort, consider taking your team skiing, snowboarding, sledding, ice skating, or simply sipping cozy drinks at the lodge. Any of these activities are a surefire way to get those who participate into the holiday spirit and it’s an enjoyable way to get some exercise and create a culture of wellness in the office.
If a trip isn’t an option, send your employees a wintry care package to enjoy together. That can include:
— A hot cocoa kit
— A woodsy scented candle
— A cozy sweater or blanket
— A gift card for a food delivery service (for when it’s too cold to go to a restaurant)
— Decorate the office
Create a holiday atmosphere by setting aside a day, preferably right after Thanksgiving, to adorn the office with festive decorations. Allow employees to deck the halls, their desks, and the break room with tinsel, paper snowflakes, stockings, string lights, and chanukiahs.
You can also set aside a little time for everyone on your team to decorate a tree ornament with their names on it. Bring a little paint, glue, and glitter, and your office Christmas tree will sparkle with cheer.
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 Sipping” by Cheree Berry Paper & Design for Paperless Post.
Festive food and drinks
The root of the word “festive” is “feast,” so it’s no wonder drinking and eating are at the heart of every holiday celebration. When deciding on a menu for your celebration, it’s important to keep food, beverages, and desserts in mind.
Sometimes all it takes to instill the holiday spirit is picking the right color of food (think red, green, and white). Or, offering seasonal favorites can be a way to go. Here’s a list to get you started:
–Baked brie with fruit preserves
You would do well to include soft drinks and fizzy water on any holiday menu. But no holiday party is complete without eggnog. The best part? It can be made alcoholic! Just add a little rum or bourbon to give it some spirit. Here are some other great options:
–Apple cider (add bourbon to make it alcoholic)
–Hot chocolate (add your favorite liqueur)
–Hot buttered rum
It doesn’t take much to treat your team to delicious holiday desserts—so long as there’s sugar, and you’re good to go. So deck your serving tables with an assortment of cookies, English toffee, shortbread, fudge, and cupcakes. Or if you’re looking to up the holiday sweetness, try peppermint bark, chocolate truffles, warm bread pudding, or a yule log. And you can never go wrong with red and green M&Ms or chocolate gelt.
If you want to throw a work holiday party in the office, make sure the room is adorned in the spirit of the season. A quick-and-easy way to set a festive mood is by stringing lights and placing some kind of pine or spruce tree away from the action, but close enough so that everyone can admire it. Of course, decor isn’t limited to tree ornaments and lights. Holiday theme napkins and paper plates are a thoughtful addition that everyone will notice.
Nothing gets people in the holiday mood more than holiday music. Around the last month of the year, finding the perfect collection of seasonal songs is as easy as tuning into the right radio station or searching for a fun playlist on Spotify or any other streaming service. Everyone’s got a favorite track that gets them into the holiday spirit, but here is a handful of ours:
— “This Christmas” by Donny Hathaway
— “Same Old Lang Syne” by Dan Fogelberg
— “Christmas Wrapping” by The Waitresses
— “Chanukah Song” by Adam Sandler
— “All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey
— “The Christmas Song” by Nat King Cole
Work holiday party invitation etiquette
The Covid-19 pandemic has unquestionably changed the dynamic of gatherings and get-togethers, and workplace parties are no exception. We now have to consider the very awkward question: To invite or to not invite remote employees?
First, 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.
But what about that perennially awkward question any host must ask themselves: Should guests be allowed to bring a guest of their own? And if so, who qualifies as an appropriate plus-one? Depending on the type and size of the party, you may want to allow spouses or significant others to join. In some cases, you can invite employees to bring their young children—but generally, family-style work holiday parties are few and far between.
Ways to disallow guests in a polite fashion:
While we wish we could invite everyone, sometimes our budgets or plans make that impossible. Fortunately, there are some tried-and-true ways to disallow extra guests in a polite fashion.
— Explanatory: “Due to venue restrictions, we are unable to extend the invitation to children.”
— Formal: “Recipient only, no guests please” or “By invitation only.”
For other tips for how to include remote employees (do you fly them in or no?), check out our Virtual Office Holiday Party Ideas blog post.
Work holiday party invitation wording
Once you’ve finished planning your party, it’s time to think about how to word your invitations. By choosing invites from Paperless Post, you can customize your invitations to match the exact style of your party or hint at the activities that lie ahead.
Here are some examples, formal and casual, that will get the ideas flowing:
— Formal festivity: Invite your team to a holiday celebration with classic formal language in a holiday card:
Dixon and Sons
2021 Holiday Party
An evening of celebration for Dixon and Sons employees
Wednesday, December 15
319 Plum Street
RSVP by December 1
Due to venue restrictions, we are unable to extend the invitation to children.
— A little sophistication: Try this wording for a touch of holiday spirit and elegance:
Keller Corp cordially invites you to an evening of merriment at the annual Keller Corp
On Thursday, December 16th
Two Thousand Nineteen
At half-past five o’clock in the evening
140 Rocco Lane
RSVP by December 1
Recipient only, no guests, please
— A hint at what’s to come: Let your guests know what kind of celebration is in store:
Cognitech invites you to
A NIGHT AT THE THEATRE
Haul out the holly! Cognitech requests that you join us at The Velour for a complimentary viewing of The Nutcracker.
Friday, December 3rd
Show starts at 7
Limited tickets available. First come, first served.
RSVPs due by December 1.
Refreshments served during intermission.
— Casual good cheer: Keep it simple with a dash of celebratory sparkle:
Helio Optics Holiday Celebration 2021
Join Helio Optics for an evening of good cheer!
December 6th at 5pm
1919 West 5th Street
— A call to celebrate: Help your teammates get into the holiday spirit with this wording:
Please join us to
Toast the holiday season in style
November 15th, 2021
6:30 – 10:30
259 E Broadway
New York, NY 10002
Cocktail attire requested
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 during the cold season. Digital invitations from Paperless Post can help you set the mood of your holiday party before it even starts—and keep track of how many people can make it.
Browse holiday party invitations on Paperless Post!