8 Fun Alternative Christmas Party Ideas for Your Office

Another year, another office Christmas party. You book the office function room, pull out last year’s dusty decorations in the storeroom, flip through buffet catering catalogues and end up ordering everyone’s favourite platter of sausages and roast prime ribs. One word? Boring. This is not to say that being traditional is not a bad thing, but why not switch things up and do something a little different this year?

Here are 8 fun alternative Christmas party ideas for your office to consider to break the rut:
1. A getaway

Whether you are leading a team of 5 or 500, an overseas getaway or retreat for your employees can do wonders. Physically getting away from the office and into new territory can re-energise your employees, encourage collaboration between departments and strengthen relationships. Be creative in planning activities and avoid traditional icebreakers and teambuilding exercises. Let your employees play volleyball on the beach or group kayaking where everyone can let loose and have fun. These activities can help bond employees who will otherwise not have come together during regular work days. If the purpose of the getaway is to have thoughtful conversations on company related topics, ensure that there is a good mix of individuals for every group to encourage interaction and fresh perspectives on tired issues. Getaways leave employees feeling refreshed, recharged and ready to take on issues in better productivity.

 2. Donate (time) to a charitable cause

Christmas is a time for giving and what better way to give than to donate your time to a charitable cause? Whether it’s distributing food items to the needy or volunteering time at an old folks’ home, companies are stepping up efforts to give back to society. Allowing employees an opportunity to give back to their communities helps to instill a sense of pride in themselves and the organization they work for. This can increase their loyalty and lead to better retention for the company. If your company is new to this, schedule a day for all employees to participate in an activity or cause to bring Christmas cheer to those in need.

    3. Hold an employee awards ceremony

Employees are being asked to do more with less, be on-call or on stand-by 24/7 as businesses work on tighter budgets. Employee recognition is more important than ever. Hosting an employee awards ceremony is a fun way of recognizing the efforts and contributions of your employees as the year comes to an end. It need not be a formal event as it is about getting employees together to show your appreciation for them. You could have departmental nominations a week or two before the actual event and allow employees to vote for their candidate of choice for the awards! Rather than host the award yourself, get the office clown or social butterfly to do the honors to inject some fun into the event.

 4. Group Christmas wreath and crafts making workshop

Rather than spend money buying Christmas decorations for your office, allow your employees to have a chance to truly get into the festive spirit by getting them to create their own decorations to spruce up the office. Enhance creativity by rallying employees to use recycled materials such as plastic bottles, sequins, bottle caps, cardboards, etc. in creating the final products. Not only will employees experience bonding, but this will bring out their fun side to work on something different other than routine work. You can also invite art and crafts experts to conduct workshops on Christmas wreath making, card making or ornaments to guide the less artistic inclined employees. Ramp up the fun by having an inter-department competition and have employees vote for the best decorations.

5. Plan a Secret Santa gift exchange

Secret Santa is a tradition where employees pick a name randomly to become someone else’s Secret Santa. They will be given a wish-list of gift ideas to choose from to give their chosen Santee. After opening their presents on the day of the gift exchange, every one has to guess who their Secret Santa is. It is a game where guessing is as much fun as receiving the gift. Secret Santa can be a fun way to engage your employees and boost morale during the holidays. Bear in mind that not everyone can afford to buy expensive gifts, so setting a budget limit at the beginning can help to alleviate anxiety among employees. Stick to generic gifts as the presents will be opened up in an office setting and no one should risk being humiliated or embarrassed by their gifts.

6. Organise an employee potluck

Who doesn’t like food? Instead of the usual catered buffets, invite your employees to bring a dish (or two) for a Christmas lunch. Some of your employees could take the chance to show off their culinary skills while others get to share their food recommendations from their favourite food joints. Post a sign-up form online or in the common area so employees can bring a variety of food. For a fun twist to a potluck lunch, you could try setting up a theme such as “international food” and have employees bring food that represents cuisine from different countries.

 7. Take to the waters

Create a sea-faring Christmas party by renting a yacht and pampering your hardworking employees for a day. Put together some team-building activities such as a karaoke competition or treasure hunt onboard. This will be a holiday party that employees look forward to as it is definitely a nice change from the usual office parties on land. Consider allowing employees to bring along a friend or family member to join in the fun too, especially if it is a day to show appreciation and reward your employees.  

 8. Have a themed party

Use your imagination and choose a theme to anchor your office Christmas party. Think “Winter Wonderlands”, “Masquerade” and “White Christmas”. Or get employees to offer suggestions and vote on the most popular choice and set it as the theme for the office party. Everyone has to dress up based on the theme. Level up the fun by creating a “best-dressed” competition among departments or individual employees.


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