5 Alternatives To A Holiday Office Party That Your Employees Will Actually Like

It’s the end of the year, and you know what that means: corporate parties. Whether it’s the annual holiday party or a big meeting to celebrate the end of Q4, this is the time of year everyone looks forward to.

Or…maybe not.

Let’s be honest, we’ve all suffered through a soulless party thrown in a conference room with flat soda, cold pizza, and a general sense of boredom that no company-mandated white elephant gifts or ugly sweaters could dispel. 

So this year? It’s time to shake things up. We have plenty of suggestions on how to throw a company party that will actually make your employees feel appreciated. And trust us, that’s the way to start Q1 right.

  1. Rent A Venue Made For Events

A good amount of party-goer’s enjoyment comes from the venue. Even if your end-of-year party is just a way for your team to chat and relax with their coworkers, they should at least be able to do it in style.

Look into hosting this year’s party at a modern event center. These aren’t the beige, outdated event halls of retirement parties past – many feature multimedia entertainment, such as video walls, deluxe sound systems, and exclusive VIP rooms. Paired with a fully planned party, it’s a great way to end the year right.

  1. Treat Your Team To A Luxury Dinner

Rather than making do with pizza and industrial-sized bags of stale popcorn, show your employees you care by treating them to a night out at an exclusive restaurant. Whether it’s dinner at a top-of-the-line exotic steakhouse or picking up the tab for a company-wide KBBQ night, the way to your company’s collective heart is through its collective stomach.

Many restaurants are willing to let you rent out their entire space for your event as well, meaning you can have the whole restaurant to yourself to mingle and enjoy everyone’s company outside of the office. It’s also a great, non-awkward way for remote-first companies to get the chance to hang out in person.

  1. Offer Experiences Instead Of A Party

Here’s the hard truth: not everyone likes going to parties. Many of your employees probably have no desire to stand around with a drink and make awkward small talk with someone outside of their department. Rather than forcing them to endure that, how can you ensure that everyone in your office has a great time? With activities.

Instead of a party, have your company go out and do some sort of activity together – it works as team building and as a way to keep anyone from feeling awkward. Take your team out for a night of axe throwing, or have a cocktail mixing pro come out to give your team a lesson in mixology. Or get some holiday frustration out in a rage room, or a department vs. department game of laser tag. The options for activities are endless, and they’ll be way more fun than a white elephant party.

  1. Give The Gift Of Travel With A Company Retreat

Take your holiday celebration abroad with a company-wide retreat. While this is certainly the priciest option on our list, it’s also the most fulfilling for everyone involved. Not only is it a great way to bond with fellow employees, but just think of how many people want to travel but can’t because of their jobs. With a company retreat, your team can enjoy a vacation without missing a thing at work.

Whether it’s a trip to experience the vibrancy of the Amazon, a company-wide Disney World stay, or a relaxing cruise up north, this is by far one of the best ways to show your team that you truly appreciate them.

  1. Skip The Party Altogether

Bear with us here for a second. Just because you don’t have an office party doesn’t mean you shouldn’t show your appreciation. Instead, find ways to do so that won’t rope your employees into a social event they either can’t find the time to attend or simply don’t want to deal with in addition to their other holiday obligations.

Offer low stakes but fun options in the lead-up to the holidays. A themed dress up day, a gingerbread house decorating contest, a potluck where everyone brings their family’s holiday staples – all of these are great options that can happen on company time and allows people to opt in or out without any awkwardness. And trust us, your employees will definitely appreciate that.

Don’t settle for a boring conference room party ever again. Instead, put as much effort into your end of year appreciation as your employees put into their work all year long. Give them a chance to really enjoy a job well done. And if you still want to make them wear ugly sweaters? Well, it’s a lot more tolerable on an Alaskan cruise than in the office.

ILR Author Bio
About the author

Jay Patton is a serial traveler and adventure seeker, based in Portland, Oregon. He enjoys hiking, running, and traveling the world, and is always on the lookout for the next big adventure.