Step away from the tinsel. Turn off the holiday playlist. And whatever you do, do NOT say one word about S-N-O-W. We know ’tis NOT quite the season just yet, but the companies that are really on top of their game are already making their holiday party plans. And we’re here to help make yours the most meaningful, impactful holiday party you’ve ever had.
Let’s start with the big fat problem.
What do you think when you hear “Company Holiday Party?” Last week, we asked 10 strangers in Midtown Manhattan and our Top 3 most common answers were:
- Lots of drinks.
- A little awkward.
- Could be better.
But how can we make it better?
It’s a great question, and it all comes down to purpose. What is the goal of your holiday party? How do you want your team to feel when they walk into the room? How about when they leave?
With just a little bit of purpose and direction, we can help you transform your holiday party to one that is meaningful, more than just the drinks, and a whole lot of fun.
Read on for our top 3 ways to take your holiday party up a notch.
1) Make charitable giving more than a check (or a checkmark).
A lot of companies put a checkmark next to “holiday giving” by cutting a check or hosting a book or toy drive. But that doesn’t create any connection between the employee and the cause. If you’re trying to add meaning to the holidays, Bring books and we’ll donate them to a charity you’ve never heard of and you won’t ever hear about again won’t quite accomplish that goal.
Our suggestion is to include an active charitable station — where people are hands-on and see their impact first-hand. One example of this is to bring in “Build a Bike,” where your team can help assemble bikes that will be donated to kids in underprivileged areas. If you want to take it a step further, Build a Bike even has a package where kids receiving the bikes can even come to your office to accept the gift in person.
Another suggestion is to set up a letter-writing station, where people can write letters to troops overseas. Our recommended charity partner for this is A Million Thanks, an organization that will take away all the guesswork and just send the letters for you. Be sure to include your company’s address because often, the soldiers will write back to you.
2) Use play as a tool for connection.
Once you have everyone outside the office, you want them to do more than just stand around talking to the same cliques they talk to during their workday. It’s easy to break up that monotony by adding elements of play to your holiday party to encourage greater connection.
Specific ideas for this include:
It Takes Two
Bring in an LED ping pong table, air hockey, or other games you must play in pairs. This creates friendly competition amongst co-workers and encourages people to pair up and connect out of the office.
Include a photo booth with playful props that encourage connection (i.e., a handheld sign reading “best coworker ever!”)
Hire a performer like a magician, band, comedian, or dance troupe to bring your team together. After they’re entertained and amazed, they’ll have even more to talk about.
90s Game Night
Add a game show such as trivia, Minute to Win It, or Family Feud for a more programmed evening of play.
3) Consider time of year.
The problem with holiday parties is everyone seems to want to celebrate the exact same day. It’s Uncle Joe’s ugly sweater party the same night as your team dinner, which is the same day as the company gift swap, which is the day after your holiday-themed college reunion. Oh, and the next day you are leaving for a week in the Bahamas. It’s not a great thing when your party feels more like a chore than a celebration.
If you’re looking for more meaning, we’d suggest hosting your holiday party when people are more present and excited to get together. You could consider closer to Thanksgiving to say thank you, or even March to help keep spirits high despite a long winter.
Regardless of how you do it, your holiday party has potential to be meaningful, memorable, and fun.
Do you have other ideas of how to make your holiday party one that will leave its mark? Comment below, or join the conversation on Twitter.