Do Something Different This Holiday Season

With the holiday season approaching, many companies are rethinking the traditional holiday party. The office holiday party, complete with formal evening attire, was once a cornerstone of corporate culture and an expected annual event. In recent years, the concept of the holiday party has shifted in the minds of both employers and employees. For employers, there are concerns about cultural sensitivity, liabilities associated with alcohol consumption, and the potential impact on relationships at work. For employees, the holiday event can be just one more thing on their plate that compounds the stress of the season – rather than an enjoyable night out, it becomes an obligation, especially for those involved in the planning.

The goal of the holiday celebration should be to bring employees together in a social setting, with a focus on strengthening personal connections and workplace relationships. There are some great ways to accomplish this without spending the time and money on a big formal event, and your employees will appreciate low-key alternatives to an expensive, energy-consuming, formal office party.


Giving Back

Choose a local charity, or ask your employees to nominate one, and get everyone involved. Getting employees together to volunteer is a great way of giving to those less fortunate and builds a sense of teamwork and morale. Serving lunch at your local shelter or assembling meal bags at your local food bank, can be very meaningful ways to bring employees together during the holiday season.


Organize a Pot Luck

A pot luck lunch gets your employees involved and allows them to show off their culinary skills. Employees will not only enjoy some social time away from their day-to-day, but they also may learn more about one another – particularly if it’s a diverse group and employees are encouraged to bring dishes that represent their culinary heritage. A sign-up sheet can be a great way to keep the selection of food organized, and coupling the pot luck with an ugly holiday sweater day can make it even more fun.


Include an Activity

Having an activity that employees can do together strengthens relationships and get everyone involved. If you have a lot of introverts, a task-oriented event is very inclusive and encourages employees to network outside of their regular peer group. By taking the focus off the conversation and redirecting it towards an activity, hands-on experiences also reduce self-consciousness and help to break down barriers. A group cooking class or an escape room are shared activities that encourage everyone to participate.


Keep it Casual

If it’s important to your employees that you hold a holiday party, there are ways to make it celebratory and memorable without spending a lot of money. Comfortable surroundings and a casual dress code are a great start, and keeping the food less fussy will suit the occasion and your budget. Supplying activities, like board games, that people can do together will keep it interactive, and an ‘open house’ style event where people can come and go makes it flexible for employees to drop-in when they can.

So, if the traditional holiday office party is affordable for you and wanted by your employees—host one. Otherwise, there are many great alternatives that still accomplish the same goals – bringing employees together, strengthening relationships, celebrating the season, and having fun.  




Rodney Steele