8 Off-Beat (and Cost Effective!) Holiday Party Ideas for Your Small Business

The holiday season can be hectic for some businesses running on all cylinders to meet customer demand. Remember to take the time to show appreciation to those who make your business a success.

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Holiday parties can be lavish extravaganzas or simple celebrations, but they all translate into appreciation

Whether you’re throwing a bash that would make A-listers clamor to your door, or an event that’s more about intentions than investment, taking the time to recognize staff with a holiday party is important.

Whatever the size of your business, and whatever the season’s demands, a festive holiday event says “thank you” to the people who make it happen. Here are some holiday party ideas for businesses of all sizes.

1. Make it a family affair

Do you employ parents who have small children? Consider a family-friendly luncheon or early afternoon party.

Ask a staff member to volunteer as Santa Claus for the children. For parents, missing out on the long lines at the mall and getting a photo for the holiday card may be reason enough to attend.

These family-oriented festivities should be light on liquor (another good reason to hold them during the day) and focused on making memories.

Easy craft tables for the kids and holiday movies could help parents get a bit of time to mingle merrily with their coworkers while their children are occupied. Be sure to provide enough activities and food for staff members without children or who aren’t interested in a photo op with St. Nick

2. Holiday costume party

Does your annual holiday party need a boost? Why not make it a costume event?

Workers can show up dressed as their favorite holiday character. At the party, ask employees to stay in character for a bit more fun, or try it include iconic quotes from their character whenever possible. One tip – ask employees to keep it secular so everyone can feel included.

Workers can be dressed up all day in the guise of their favorite characters with a small event after hours for celebrations and awards. Or you can march your merry band to a nearby venue to spread the holiday cheer.

3. Holiday tailgate

If you’re lucky enough to be in a region where the holidays don’t mean snow and sub-zero temperatures, consider a holiday office party outside the office. Make it a tailgate party in the parking lot or a Christmas BBQ. You provide the main course and beverages, and they volunteer to bring in appetizers and sweets. Bringing in food trucks may be another way to feed the masses.

4. Sweet exchanges

If you don’t have a huge budget or a lot of space, consider paring down the event to a cookie exchange. Almost everyone has holiday cookies, fudge or Rice Krispies treats they make to celebrate the season.

A cookie or sweets exchange party with cocoa, cider, and candy canes is an easy event to host and it appeals to the sweet tooth in everyone. Workers can bring enough of their signature treats to last through the event.

5. Support local businesses

Does your local movie house run the classics at holiday time? You may be able to buy a block of tickets (usually at a discount) for workers and their family members and make it a Saturday afternoon excursion for the team. Have employees meet in the lobby before the movie so kids can meet, greet, and find seats together.

It doesn’t have to be a movie. Local ice and roller skating rinks, bowling alleys, and other family-friendly venues offer discounts for parties. These events let employees and their families join in the festivities and help workers learn more about their colleagues.

6. A day to repay

Consider ditching the holiday party for a day of volunteering. Survey staff members to see if they’d rather have the holiday office party budget donated to a good cause, or ask for staff to volunteer at a local charity. Many local newspapers run Letters to Santa r sponsor a toy drive. The company could offer to defer holiday party funds to pay for toys or meals if workers do the shopping for kids and families in need.

Consider volunteering at a local charitable organization as a day to repay. If you can close your doors for an afternoon and give back to the community, you may build holiday spirit in a way no party can generate.

One tip: so many charitable organizations are grateful for the help and support during the holidays, but the need is there throughout the year. Who knows, your day to repay event could turn into a beautiful, year-round friendship.

7. Workstation decoration

Employees might love the chance to trick out their workstation for the holidays.

After hours, let workers roam the office and rate their colleague’s masterpieces while they nosh and imbibe. An awards ceremony could finish the event with prizes offered to everyone and even a decoration king and queen designation (sashes and tiaras optional).

8. Beat the winter blues

For many businesses, the holiday season is the busiest time of the year. There’s no time to even think about a party, much less plan for and schedule one. But you don’t want staffers to think you don’t appreciate their herculean efforts all year long. Let employees know you’ll be hosting a beat the winter blues event to celebrate staff when they have the time (and the energy) to enjoy it.

Deferring your holiday party a month or so can mean more than giving staff a better opportunity to unwind. Catering and venue costs are often lower once the rush is over; you and your staff could end up getting more bang for your holiday party buck.

Start new traditions

The best employee events begin with employee input. Ask your staff what holiday traditions they’d like to start at your organization. They may surprise you with their silliness or their commitment to service. Whatever the event, remember a holiday party is a way to say thank you to the staff. Their hard work throughout the year makes the season bright.

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