Office learning

How to Plan an Office Holiday Party That Everyone Will Love

Are you trying to get your office ready for the holidays while you plan the best office holiday party ever? Check out our tips for hosting the best party of the year— in or out of the office.

Ana Gotter

The holiday season is pretty much here, and it’s time to get that end-of-year office holiday party on the books. Whether you’re pulling together an in-office party complete with decor and refreshments, or planning an offsite party with a DJ and a photo booth, there are plenty of fun and creative ideas to choose from. 

Winter holidays present a fantastic opportunity to show your appreciation for your team, help them celebrate one another, and close out the year with gratitude and joy. An office party is the perfect morale booster and bonding experience - something your team can look forward to as the year draws to a close. 

Let’s dive into a few ways you can plan an office holiday party that everyone will love. 

Plan the Holiday Party 

Before you nail down the details for your office holiday party, choose a date that works for as many of your team members as possible - and start planning as early as possible.

Pick an afternoon when your team is most likely to be in the office; that means it’s important to plan the party far enough in advance that people aren’t already taking vacation days. Having the party two days before Christmas almost guarantees that your co-workers will already be out of the office and traveling to visit family. 

Once you’ve decided what day you’ll have the party, send out invitation emails to your team. If you’re holding the party in-office, include a link to a shared spreadsheet or document where anyone who wants to sign up to bring refreshments may do so. Make sure you have a variety of delicious snacks (make sure you have allergy-friendly options covered), and consider fun activities like office karaoke. 

Involve your team members in the planning— don’t go it alone. In addition to inviting your co-workers to bring refreshments and party supplies, ask for their input on activities. If you don’t have team members willing to participate in planning, you could even consider hiring a party planning service to help you.

If you’re having an offsite party:

  • Determine and book the location. Will you hold your party at a restaurant or an offsite event venue? 
  • Will the party require travel to the venue? Arrange transportation for the team so everyone has a designated driver. A shuttle service, bus, or even credits toward Uber or Lyft are great options.
  • Consider hiring an event planning service to assist with pulling together all the party details.
  • Give yourself plenty of lead time to book a caterer, DJ, bartender, and any party entertainment. 
  • Make sure there will be enough food and non-alcoholic beverages to go around. Not everyone drinks alcohol, and it’s important to be sensitive to that.
  • Plan an interactive activity. Whether you choose a traditional photo booth or fancy VR set, it’s important to have something besides drinking to entertain team members. 
  • Take food allergies into consideration, and have your caterer accommodate any team members who need it. 


If you haven’t decided on an offsite vs. an in-office holiday party yet, take a look at your budget for the event, then weigh the pros and cons of your options. For example, do you have a large enough budget to book an offsite event at a venue - and hire the outside help you’ll need to make the party a smash hit? 

On the other hand, having a party in-office is a lot less expensive, but it’s not generally accepted to have alcohol at work, during work hours. If your team is set on having an open bar at the party, offsite would be a better choice. And, if you don’t have the budget to book out a large venue and hire vendors, perhaps reserving a party room at a restaurant after hours would be better.

A word on remote employees: if it’s possible, include your remote workers in the festivities. If they live close enough to the office to visit in person, they might want to make travel arrangements to participate. If they can’t be there, help them organize a virtual party, virtual office visit (hello, video conferencing!), or send them something special.

Virtual reality headset rentals for an office holiday party.
Image source: Rentacomputer.com

Order Office Gifts 

Many offices give a gift of some kind to their staff members during the holiday season. Some companies opt for bonuses, while others give gift cards, brownies or cookies in a branded tin, or small seasonal tokens like an ornament, stocking, or coffee mug filled with candy. 

You may also want to consider sending gifts to clients who you have worked with throughout the year. A small gift is a thoughtful gesture that shows gratitude for the past year and ushers in the coming year with goodwill. 


A few other ideas for office gifts include:

  • Starbucks gift card (they have a special page for businesses to order from here)
  • Warm, cozy socks
  • Throw blanket 
  • Assortment of teas
  • Tickets to the local museum or botanical garden
  • Restaurant gift cards
  • Vouchers for free or discounted meals or activities around town


Some offices choose to hold a raffle during the holidays, too - which is a great option for your team to raise money for a good cause.

Starbucks gift cards in bulk as gift ideas for an office holiday party.
Image source: Starbucks

Deck the Halls with Decorations

Most people love the holiday season, and getting the office decorated will help everyone feel the cheer. 

Hang stockings for each teammate, hang garland around the doors, and put up a fake tree with shatter-proof decorations. Those types of decorations are easy to store, won’t bring insects into the office, won’t spoil before the holidays, and are cost-effective long-term.

Be inclusive with your decorations. Set up a menorah if anyone in your office celebrates Hanukkah, for example, or use winter decorations that celebrate the season without pointing to specific religious observances.

If you use scented products in your decor, avoid products with strong artificial fragrances; these can affect scent-sensitive people. Instead, consider using a potpourri pot with water, cinnamon sticks, fresh cloves, and orange peel. 

Stockings with snowflakes and ribbons as decorations for your office holiday party.
Image source: Hoppier


Organize a Gift Exchange 

A gift exchange is a great way for coworkers to give gifts to one another without having to buy a gift for everyone. Have your teammates draw names at random so they’ll have just one coworker to buy for. 

Alternatively, you could play a game like Office Dirty Santa or White Elephant to add a fun twist. There’s nothing more entertaining (and awkward) then stealing a gift from your manager...or opening a hilarious gag gift from a co-worker.

Either way, set a price limit on gifts - $25 or below. You can make the gift exchange part of your in-office party, or have it at the office during the week of your offsite event. 

Other team activity ideas include: 

  • Holding an ugly sweater contest to see who can rock the most hideous holiday sweater of them all.
  • Handing out joke certificates tailored to each team member (like “Most Likely to Ask a Detailed Question at the End of a Meeting”). Remember to keep it kind!  
  • Hosting a bake-off or a cake drive. (Invite any employees with food allergies to bring their confections to share with others who have the same dietary needs.) 
  • Inviting everyone to bring a dish for a potluck lunch. 
  • Compiling a staff recipe book. Ask each team member to bring one family holiday recipe to share. 
Fun awards you can give out at your office holiday party.
Image source: Silly Certificates

Conclusion 

Office holiday parties are a great opportunity to spend time with your team, enjoy a relaxing and fun time together, and show appreciation for one another. In-office potluck parties are a big hit among many work teams - complete with a bake-off and a gift swap. Other companies prefer to pull out all the stops, booking an event venue like a hotel and hiring caterers and entertainment. 

Whether you have the party in the office, offsite at a large event venue, or in a relaxed restaurant, remember the time is best spent enjoying one another’s company, celebrating the past year, and charging forward to the year ahead. 

Looking for a little help with snacks for your in-office party?
Check out what Hoppier can do for you!