8 Unforgettable Ways to Celebrate the Office Holiday Party

For those (un)lucky ambitionistas in charge of planning this year's office party, don't worry. Skip the cold meat and cheese plates, stale gingerbread cookies and awkward conversation with the nervous intern in the cubicle next to you. Instead of booking a table of 40 at the Cheesecake Factory (yikes), plan something memorable that'll have coworkers touting your cleverness and looking forward to next year's party.

holiday-desserts

If all else fails, chocolate is a perfectly acceptable holiday meal

As always, TA has you covered, from head to heel.


White Christmas Party

Rent a space large enough to fit everyone in your office. Dress tables with white tablecloths, gold silverware and white roses as centerpieces. Hang snowflakes from the ceiling, accenting with gold and silver ornaments to add a festive sparkle. Let everyone know ahead time that the dress code is all-white formal, so think elegant white dresses and maybe a pretty blue one just because. You can send a mass invite to the entire office via email or add a personal touch with paper invites tucked in envelopes. Hey, might as well put that office printer into good use.

For food, stick to classics for entrees -- roasted chicken, sauteed vegetable, etc. -- but go wild on the desserts. Remember, it's an all-white theme. So, choose heavenly coconut cakes, white chocolate martinis, and a white chocolate fountain to dip strawberries and marshmallows.


Christmas by the Beach

Sometimes, all that snow and chilly weather can get you down. Create a mini getaway for your officemates this year by throwing a beach-themed Christmas party. BHG has a lovely compilation of seashell-ready holiday decor.  Encourage everyone to show up in Hawaiian t-shirts, beach dresses and sandals. Hand out leis as party favors and prep the bar for tequila sunrises and other summery cocktails.


Toy Drive

Spread some feel-good cheer and throw a toy drive for a local charity. Ask guests to bring one gift item -- teddy bears, toy trains, legos, etc. -- and place everyone's presents underneath a large Christmas tree. Since the theme focuses on a more traditional occasion, line the walls with strings of lights and garland, playing up the classic red and green colors throughout the room. Designate a table for hors d'oeuvres and drinks. For small plate inspiration, check out Bon Appetit's holiday-appropriate recipes to ensure an office party victory.


White Elephant Gift Exchange

White elephant exchanges are a great way to stir up friendly fire at office parties. Keep gifts at a $25 minimum and make sure you have plenty of hot cocoa to enjoy while you watch everyone fight over a cardboard cut out of John Stamos (happened once, t'was hilarious).


Potluck Contest

chocolate-layers

Up the ante of the usual potluck party by turning it into a competition and setting up a few rules: All dishes must be homemade, no safety pies allowed. The person who shows up with the best dish can win a gift basket filled with goodies or a cash prize of $50. This is one of the easier parties to set up, since the entire office helps out with the food. Plus, it ensures that everyone brings something reasonably tasty -- no cold veggie trays here.


Outdoor S'mores Roast

smore-party

Move the party outdoors and throw a s'mores roast. You can either carpool or have everyone meet at a designated area. Choose a setting that's relaxed, lots of beaches have fire pits available for the public and deserts make great landscapes for a memorable party. Once everyone gets settled and the fire is roaring, pass along a tray of graham crackers, chocolate pieces and marshmallows. Just don't forget the skewers!


Ugly Sweater Party

what-to-wear-ugly-sweater-party

Like the potluck party, turn this ugly sweater party into an office contest. You'll be surprised by the effort and creativity of your coworkers and there's nothing like friendly competition to get people into a festive spirit.

Style Note: Boden Fabulous festive sweater


Post-Christmas Brunch

For a more playful take on holiday feasting, organize a post-Christmas brunch office party for when everyone gets back from the holidays. It's ideal, as more restaurants open up after the 25th and besides, who doesn't appreciate delicious mimosas and maple-soaked french toast? If possible, reserve one long table that can fit everyone in your office and have the dishes prepared family style, so that people are encouraged to share. This creates a relaxed atmosphere and the perfect setting for lively conversation.

Keep the attire casual yet smart -- cardigans, sunglasses, etc. -- so that you can nurse any eggnog hangovers in peace.


We'd love to hear what your holiday office plans are this year.
If you have any cheeky ideas for a party, let us know in the comments.



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RESPONSES

  • You have just saved me from my hosting stint this weekend. Yes, we’re gonna have a post Xmas party at the office and I’m at my wits end! Thanks so much for all the tips here, Heidi. Happy Holidays 🙂

  • Margaret says:

    Hmm, that “ugly sweater party” sounds great. I wonder how my colleagues would react. Of course, it’s going to be a fun night, fabulous even! Thank you!

  • Aaliyah Jane says:

    I like that white elephant gift exchange ideas you posted above. Really neat and useful gifts. Thankies!

  • Desiree says:

    I totally agree with you about chocolates. You could never go wrong with chocolates, it’s everyone’s favorite! I’ll survive with chocolates even for weeks!

  • Rachel says:

    An ugly sweater party? Now why didn’t I think of that? I got an ugly sweaters on my closet and I think I haven’t worn that ever, so this is the best time to take it to a Christmas fashion show for the family. It’s brilliant!

  • Yvonne says:

    It’s just me and my honey this Christmas and rather than cook and get burned in the process, we got reservations to this fancy restaurant and all the staffs and people are so festive and jolly and spreading the holiday warmth, so I guess this is a great Holiday party for the two of us! (We hope we;ll have a bigger family party next year!)

  • Misty Dew says:

    I love all these holiday ideas of yours, Heidi. I’ll be sure to take on these for the next year for our Christmas party since I am the next scheduled event host for 2015. Thanks!!!

  • Janine says:

    We had a potluck-themed Christmas Party a few days ago and it was lots of fun. Everyone brought their specialty food and shared the recipes and secrets. There was even a boodle fight in the end. This was better than when we hired catering services last year 🙂

  • Lorie says:

    I took your advice, we got lots of chocolates for this year’s Xmas party and it was a success! Thank you!

  • Arianne says:

    I was able to try out Bon Appetit’s recipes for appetizers and the smoked salmon idea was a hit, the dip was awesome! Thanks for sharing your tips Heidi.

  • Nikki says:

    Maple-soaked French Toasts are the best! After all the sumptuous meals during Christmas dinner, I don’t think I’d be able to put anymore food in my tummy, but if there are french toasts offered in restaurants, who am I to ignore that sweet temptation?!

  • Susan says:

    I can’t believe I’m saying this – I actually miss working in the office! I mean, I don’t actually miss working on a holiday, but what I miss is having or going to parties right after work and get to enjoy the holiday with friends/colleagues. Maybe 4 years ago, I would be jumping with joy when the boss tells us a party is underway right after shift hours, but now, I’m more than happy to spend holiday parties with my two little kiddos..

  • Shailene M says:

    I’m glad I read this a few days ago. I was in charge of our post-Christmas party in the office and I took your suggestion – the potluck contest and chocolate galore party and it was a success!

  • Blue says:

    Guess what? We just had our post-Christmas party in the office and I suggested your tips and it was a success! We did chocolates and Outdoor s’mores roast at the nearest beachfront and it felt like it’s Christmas all over again! Thanks much for all your suggestions 🙂

  • Jenni Clark says:

    I’m definitely going to save this page and take note of these suggestions soon. I’m sure this is going to be so much fun, not that I’m really excited since it’s still the first month of the year LOL

  • Victoria says:

    We were able to spend some warm Christmas time at the beach. I suggested it to my co-workers since our flagship offices are near the beach and somehow, it appealed to them because it made our holidays warmer and more upbeat and fun, of course!

  • mistydew says:

    Those are really great ideas. I’m going to inform my boss about this and see if we can incorporate some of your ideas for our next holiday parties 🙂 Thanks!

  • Claire says:

    Oh these ideas are quick and easy and still fabulous!!! A white-themed party or a choco-filled party is definitely going to be on my list of possible holiday celebration in the office. Yay!!!

  • Kianna Mikels says:

    To tell you the truth, I prefer not to wear white on Christmas or other holidays because they tend to attract stain and all. I’m not particular with stains, and we all know, stain comes automatically during parties. But I don’t want to be anal about it. For this year, I think a White party is a great idea. It could be festive and fun and cool! I am taking this suggestion by heart and see where it will lead me and my colleagues.

  • Yassi says:

    These are great holiday party ideas! I would be happy to do all of these parties this week! Woohoo!!

  • Rowena says:

    ‘Tis my first time to spend holidays abroad and guess what our theme was? Ugly Christmas sweaters! Ahhh… I felt so festive and entirely comical because of the various designs my family had to wear, but it was the season of fun, sharing, laughter so I enjoyed every minute of it. Thanks for all the wonderful ideas you have here, Heidi!

  • Jordan Taylor\ says:

    I’m in charge of our Christmas party this year, and thanks to you, I now have an idea on what theme to choose. You’re awesome Heidi!