Company Christmas Party Ideas

Make your office holiday party a success

Colleagues sharing cake and drinks at Christmas party
Company Christmas party ideas for a fun event. Anna Bizon/ Getty Images

So you're the one who has to come up with the company Christmas party ideas this time around. You want it to be a big success, which means the first obstacle you face is getting people to show up. It's a busy time of year, and your office Christmas party faces a lot of competition from other events—ones that may be seen as more desirable than your invitation.

Employees who are tired, stressed, and more than ready for a workplace break may be hard to entice into spending even more time with one another, especially if the annual company Christmas party has become a tired tradition. Having shortbread cookies and drinks at the office while sitting around a flashing Christmas tree just isn't very inviting. How can you have the kind of company Christmas party that people want to come to and even look forward to next year?

Get Away From the Office

Whatever company Christmas party ideas you choose, if you want it to be a success, don’t hold it at the office. You could have your party catered by a celebrity chef or get a world-famous performer to play and sing, but you'll never have a fun, can't-miss-this-next-year event if you hold it where employees work. Being in the place where they normally do it will make the temptation to talk about work too irresistible, even if Yo-Yo Ma is playing.

Get out of the Nighttime Groove

While we tend to think of parties as evening affairs, they don't have to be. Even if your company Christmas party idea is to host a meal for your guests at a restaurant or hotel, there's no reason it can't be a brunch or lunch instead of dinner. Or even an afternoon tea.

There are advantages to sticking to daytime. For one thing, people will drink less at a luncheon than at a dinner. Just switching the time of day can make alcohol less of an issue and help ensure that your party doesn't turn into a drunken disaster.

Change It Up

Don't get stuck doing the same thing every year. No matter how successful your last office Christmas party was, a certain percentage of people will be bored if you do it again.

Try thinking of your party as an event rather than a get-together. Instead of the traditional sit-around-somewhere-and-eat party, you could host a disc golf, skating, curling, or bowling party. If you live somewhere with a warm enough climate, a river or bay cruise could be memorable. Or turn your party into a Christmas-themed murder mystery or scavenger hunt. Just find something everyone can do, and don't pick the same thing twice.

Make It a Family Affair

If you change your guest list from inviting just staff to inviting staff and their families to your company party, people's expectations and behaviors will change, too. For one thing, alcohol consumption will decrease. And as an added bonus, more people will be likely to attend when they don't have to find sitters. Activity-based parties are especially good for this—people of all ages can skate or bowl.

Mix up Your Guest List

Instead of hosting a company Christmas party that's just for staff, widen your guest list to include extended family, friends, neighbors, and business associates. Mixing up your guests makes your party more interesting for attendees as they'll get a chance to meet new people and have less chance of being trapped in endless shop talk. One example of this is to hold an open house with a purpose, such as raising and decorating a tree.

Consider an Alcohol-Free Christmas Party

Then there's the alcohol dilemma. Should you serve it at your Christmas party? As a human being, you want all your guests to have a good time and be safe. But both happiness and safety can be compromised when people are drinking. And as a social host, legally you have a duty to supervise your guests and make sure they all get home safely if they're consuming alcohol at your party.

There is no rule that you have to serve alcohol at your office Christmas party. If doing so makes you uncomfortable or anxious, don't serve it. People can certainly have a good time without drinking alcohol. Just make sure that everyone knows it's an alcohol-free party ahead of time and that you have plenty of other things if people are thirsty.

Besides juices, teas, coffees, and alcohol-free punches, mocktails can be a fun alternative. If you decide to serve alcohol at your party, be sure you understand your liability and plan for a safe party.

The Right Mix for Success

The trick to successfully hosting any party is to blend just the right amounts of excitement and comfort. With these company Christmas party ideas, you can host a party that the staff looks forward to attending instead of coming up with excuses for avoiding.