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.
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.
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).
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
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
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
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.