The holidays are a great time to step back and unwind a bit, especially after a full year of hard work. Celebrating the holidays at work is a vital way to maintain a fun and supportive company culture.
However, as many HR leaders know, planning an inclusive celebration that’s exciting and rewarding for everyone can be difficult. Do you plan a big dinner party? Bring games? Include alcohol? Rent a different venue or host it at the office?
There are a lot of work holiday party questions to answer each year, and in this post, we’ll go over some of the best holiday party strategies you need to plan the best event of the year.
6 Ways to Celebrate the Holidays at Work
There are all sorts of activities that you can plan for the holidays. Consider your number of employees, their personalities, and your budget, and choose which celebration works best for you.
1. Secret Santa
The excitement of getting a surprise gift from a coworker is always fun, especially when teams are close with each other. Plus, it helps employees get to know each other better in an anonymous, risk-free environment. Simply have employees randomly choose a recipient, set a limit on the price for each gift, and watch as creative gifts come rolling in!
2. Decorating Contests
Bring out your employees’ creativity with decorating contests. These work great for any holiday, be it Halloween, Thanksgiving, Kwanzaa, or Christmas. Decorate desks, decorate cookies, or create and decorate gingerbread houses. The possibilities are endless! These are great for team building and giving employees some time to relax and have fun together.
3. Holiday Party
Holiday parties are the go-to celebration for a reason. Big events are great times to celebrate company successes and recognize employee efforts. Some work holiday party ideas include:
- Fancy gala where employees dress up and enjoy catered food
- Casual lunch at the office with games, snacks, and a raffle
- Digital holiday party for remote employees with trivia, virtual games, and packages of goodies
- Get together at a movie theater the company rented out
- Ugly sweater competition with prizes, party games, and food
Use whichever of these Christmas office party ideas is most fitting for your workforce!
4. Christmas Bonus
Rewarding employees for their hard work throughout the year is a great way to increase engagement and retention. After all, employees will want to continue working for you when they know their work is appreciated.
5. Company Activity
Unlink company parties, company holiday activities are often less formal and more focused on getting out of the office to have fun together. Here are some holiday activities to consider this year:
- Holiday-themed escape room or mystery party
- Holiday scavenger hunt
- Food tours, bicycle tours, storytelling tours, etc.
- Holiday award show
- Day at the mall for everyone to get their shopping done
- Holidays-around-the-world potluck
6. Service Activity
Everyone enjoys getting gifts, but giving is even more powerful. Empower your employees to give back this holiday season with a service activity during company time. Find a cause that’s important to your organization and allow employees to serve.
Celebrate Diversity With Holiday Celebrations
Workplace holidays are an awesome opportunity to build your company culture, have fun, and spread awareness for others. Educate yourself on all of the holidays that you can celebrate at work, and don’t assume everyone celebrates the same days in the same ways.
In doing so, you can create a culture where employees feel seen and valued, regardless of where they come from or what their traditions are.
6 Strategies for Inclusive Holiday Celebrations at Work
Keeping in mind that not everyone celebrates Christmas or Thanksgiving, here are some ideas for inclusive holiday celebrations:
1. Offer Floating Holidays
Give employees a couple days off to use when and how they want. These floating holidays will allow employees who celebrate holidays other than Christmas or Thanksgiving to take the time off they need to spend time with their loved ones.
2. Gather Employee Feedback
Do you know what your employees want to do for their holiday party? If you haven’t asked them, you probably don’t know! Get employee feedback about their holiday preferences and traditions so that you know how to make employees feel welcome and comfortable. Ask questions like:
- Which holidays would you like to celebrate at work?
- Which holidays would you like to have off?
- What cultural events or celebrations are meaningful to you?
- Is there anything we should know about your cultural or religious beliefs when it comes to holiday celebrations?
3. Be Careful With Decorations and Food
Certain decorations or food dishes may be offensive to some without you even realizing it. For example, red and green are great for Christmas, but blue and white are celebratory colors for Hanukkah. Stars and angels are fitting decorations, but some religious beliefs may not appreciate them.
When it comes to food, the traditional champagne and Christmas ham may not sit right with those who don’t drink or eat pork. To that end, offer multiple food and drink options to ensure everyone has something they can enjoy.
Once again, talk to your employees and find out what is and isn’t appropriate for your holiday celebrations.
4. Encourage Awareness
When planning inclusive celebrations, don’t make changes and leave employees to guess why. Explain different traditions and religious beliefs to spread knowledge and awareness, which increases understanding.
5. Ensure Everyone Is Involved
When it comes to the location of your party, ensure that everyone can be involved. If you have remote employees, either host a separate party for them or fly them in for the event. Even if employees choose not to attend, they deserve to at least have the chance.
6. Create an Inclusive Company Holiday Calendar
With a calendar that includes all of the holidays that your employees of different backgrounds celebrate, employees will be able to see and learn about the days that are important to others. Plus, this will help leaders plan company parties on days that don’t clash with other, lesser-known holidays.
Rewarding Employees During the Holidays
Holiday parties are almost always accompanied with gifts of some sort. So if you’re wondering what employee gifts are best for your holiday party, here are some strategies to keep in mind:
- Ask your employees to learn more about their interests, hobbies, and needs.
- Give employees the power to choose their own gifts.
- Offer something meaningful and memorable to each employee.
- Consider giving the gift of experiences or trips.
- Don’t put too much weight in the price—an expensive but unwanted gift is worse than an inexpensive but personalized gift.
The key for good holiday gifts is ensuring employees get something that they want. Nothing says “I don’t actually care about you that much” like a ceramic mug and a cooler that no one needs.
Have a Holly, Jolly Holiday Celebration at Work This Year
A successful holiday season is one where all of your employees feel appreciated, seen, and valued, regardless of their backgrounds, traditions, or interests. What you do to celebrate matters a lot less than ensuring your employees feel that way.
Take a moment to think about what your people will truly value and then build a holiday celebration at work to fill that gap. And if you want to create memorable holiday celebrations and offer the best rewards, Awardco can help.