With the most wonderful time of the year fast approaching, you’ve been tasked with the not-so-wonderful mission of planning the annual office Christmas party. Indeed, no matter how big or small your company is, organizing an event that meets everyone’s expectations can be a tricky task.
Before you can dive into the logistics and begin planning, you first need to decide what the actual party theme is going to be. And if a black-tie ball or a fancy dinner party doesn’t sound as appealing for the umpteenth consecutive year, maybe it’s time to switch it up a bit!
If you’re short on ideas, we’ve got you covered. Here are some crowd-pleasing alternative Christmas party ideas that will make your office bash a success!
1. Visit the local Christmas market
Nothing can get you in the holiday spirit quite like a Christmas market. And with little to no organization required, this is the perfect holiday activity for your team. All you’ve got to do is set a time and date!
Visiting the local Christmas market will give everyone a nice opportunity to do some Christmas shopping from local vendors, enjoy their favorite holiday treats, share a glass of mulled wine (or other beverage of choice) and spend some quality time together as a team.
Plus, everyone can have a good laugh watching their colleagues attempt to skate at the ice rink (if there is one) or try their luck at some funfair games.
2. Throw a wine-tasting party
For the wine lovers out there, a wine-tasting party is an ideal way to celebrate the festive season.
Organizing it doesn’t have to be a fussy task, either! Have the wine connoisseur of the office pick up a few bottles of wine for everyone to try, prepare a cheese platter, and invite everyone to a night of cheese and wine. This might also be a great opportunity for everyone to exchange their Secret Santa gifts!
If you want to add a fancier touch to your gathering, invite everyone to a local winery and have the experts serve you their finest products. This will make a nice and intimate alternative to the usual office Christmas bash.
3. Spend the day at a theme park
If your budget allows it, then why not treat your team and their families to a trip to an amusement park? From Christmas shows and breath-taking decorations to festive rides and other great holiday events, it’s the perfect place to spread some holiday cheer.
Plus, many parks offer group deals and packages, meaning that you’ll be able to get tickets at a discounted price. This will no doubt make a fun day out for the entire office, and it’s definitely a great opportunity for your team to bond.
4. Opt for some paintballing madness
If you’re looking for something a little more exciting than the usual office Christmas soirée, paintball is the way to go. Not only is it a brilliant team-building activity, but it will also surely give your coworkers a chance to relieve any work-related stress (just in time for the holidays, too!).
If you want to add some Christmas flair to your team outing, you can also get everyone to dress up in holiday-themed outfits (which can be worn over your protective gear), such as Santa Claus costumes or, for the more cynical members of the group, the Grinch.
And to make everything a lot more thrilling, make sure that there’s a prize for the winning team, as this will no doubt make the game a lot more exciting and motivate everyone to work as a team.
5. Book an escape room
Spice up the office Christmas party by organizing a team trip to an escape room.
You and your team will be locked in a room where you’ll have to discover a series of clues that will eventually allow you to “escape”. If your coworkers love mysteries and solving cryptic puzzles, this will definitely be an enjoyable outing for them.
Pick an escape room whose theme is close to your team’s tastes and interests, and let the adventure begin! There might even be a Christmas-themed escape room available, so research your options before making your booking.
6. Organize an ugly Christmas jumper party
Most of us are guilty of owning a despicably festive Christmas jumper that we dare not wear in public. But why not embrace the ugliness of these Christmassy garments and host a party in their honor instead?
Have everyone wear the ugliest Christmas jumper they own and have a fun (and funny) office holiday blowout — this also works for online Christmas parties if you have a remote team. Keep everyone entertained with music, snacks and some fun party games.
And if you want to make things a bit more interesting, have everyone vote for their favorite ugly sweater, and give the winner a prize (maybe an even uglier jumper to add to their collection?).
7. Throw a Christmas barbecue
Who doesn’t love a good barbecue? Better yet, who doesn’t love a Christmas barbecue?
While this is usually a beloved summer activity for many, it’s still a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, whatever the season. If you work at a smaller company, this is a great way to celebrate the holidays as a team in a more intimate (and slightly quirky) way.
If you live in a rather warm climate, meanwhile, you could have someone volunteer their backyard and host your party outside. But if the weather doesn’t allow it, you can still make good use of your barbecue gear. And you don’t have to worry about the cold — the heat of the grill will at least keep the designated cook quite warm!
8. Throw an off-the-wall Christmas party
When it comes to office Christmas parties, restaurants and bars are a common go-to option. However, if you’d like to splash out this year and try something a little different, then why not opt for an off-the-wall party venue?
Depending on your location and budget, you could host your event in a museum, an aquarium or even an underground railway station. Alternatively, you could rent a function room and transform it into the perfect setting to match your Christmas party theme of choice. Without a doubt, your team will be thoroughly impressed and will have an unforgettable time!
9. Throw a game of Christmas bingo
Add some good old-fashioned fun to the office Christmas bash by combining it with a game of bingo.
Simply find and hire a party bingo service and host your Christmas bingo night at a function room or an event space. And if you want to add a bit more glam to the event, set a strictly fancy dress code, splurge out on tasty treats and hire a live band or DJ to perform. Everyone will have a fabulous time (especially if there are great prizes for the winners!).
This alternative idea is also the perfect fit for virtual and remote teams, too. All you’ll need to do is find an online bingo game and have everyone join the fun. (And you can still include prizes to get everyone’s spirits high!)
10. Do a mindfulness workshop
Albeit festive, the Christmas season can also be quite stressful and pressuring for most. So, if you want to celebrate a little differently at the office this year, why not host a mindfulness workshop instead?
You can organize different activities that your employees can opt in for, like yoga sessions, life coaching seminars and journaling classes, which will enable your team to have a positive outlet and perhaps help them start the new year on the right foot. This is also a great way to include members of your team that might not celebrate Christmas.
Meanwhile, this can also be a brilliant option for online teams — you can create different rooms on Zoom, and have people join the activities that interest them the most.
11. Run a 5k marathon
Marathons are great group activities and a brilliant way to raise money for charities and other causes. And you don’t need to be regular jogger to join in — you can opt to walk a 5k if you prefer.
See if your staff would be interested to form a group, and join the next marathon hosted in your city as a team. To make things more festive, you can also dress up in Christmas-themed costumes.
Not only will this help your team bond, but it will also be a more meaningful way to celebrate Christmas.
12. Dance away at a silent disco party
Hosting a silent disco Christmas party is bound to be a hit. Unlike conventional parties, people don’t have to be subjected to excessively loud party music with nowhere to escape to! Instead, everyone wears a set of wireless headphones that play the same music, although there are often more channels so people can choose between different songs whenever they want!
The best part about this is that those who don’t feel like dancing or who need a break can simply take off their headsets and enjoy lively conversations while everyone else is dancing away.
13. Have a spa day
Does your team work in a fast-paced environment? Then what better way to help them unwind and relax before the upcoming holidays than with a spa day?
Depending on your budget, you can either organize a group outing at a spa retreat or provide everyone with gift certificates which they can redeem in their own time. Better yet, you could grant everyone a day off from the office whenever they may want to visit the spa. This is another lovely way to reward remote employees, too.
14. Host a gingerbread house contest
If you want to add a creative (and sweet) flair to your Christmas shenanigans, then why not organize a gingerbread house-building contest?
You can get gingerbread house kits for everyone at the office and have them create their own sugary châteaux within the span of an hour. Assemble a judging committee or have everyone vote for each other’s creations and give the winner a prize!
15. Visit an ice-skating rink
Ice skating rinks are a holiday staple and the perfect way to celebrate Christmas with your team.
You can book an ice stadium or visit the one at the local Christmas market and have everyone give their skating skills a go. You may also want to hire an instructor — especially for the clumsier, fall-prone members of your group — who can walk everyone through the basics of ice skating.
16. Make ceramics
This idea will be viewed favorably by your artistic colleagues and the ones who aren’t afraid to try something new knowing they won’t instantly be exceptional at it. (Because some people really do have that unrealistic expectation of themselves!)
If there’s a pottery studio or art space around the area, why not ask if you can pop in with your colleagues or have a ceramicist give a workshop at your office? You can make your own Christmas themed cups, trays and trinkets out of clay.
17. Organize a scavenger hunt
A scavenger hunt in the office or even a park in your area can be a great team-building activity. Although the person organizing it won’t be able to participate, as they’ll know where the booty lies hidden, it can still be a fun experience watching everyone scratch their heads and take wild guesses.
If you decide to take on the role of game master, you can have fun dropping vague hints or even purposely confusing the situation further (in moderation, of course!).
18. Play video games
If someone at the office has a video game console they can bring in for the day, ask them to do so! With oodles of party video games to choose from, you could host friendly competitions amongst yourselves or just play for fun without keeping score.
While some games like Mario Kart, EA Sports and Street Fighter can put less experienced gamers at a disadvantage, there are many trivia games to choose from that anyone can play, as well as board game-inspired ones, such as Monopoly.
19. Go to the arcade
A more traditional Christmas outing would be to visit a nearby winter wonderland destination together. But you’re here looking for unexpected ideas, right? So, why not arrange a trip to your closest arcade instead?
Put your reflexes, creative thinking and problem-solving skills to the test with single- and two-player games, laugh, be silly, and win and exchange prizes with each other. Or just take the Baby Yoda plush you win collectively back to the office and plonk it on your Christmas tree. Just as long as everyone has fun and can remember to refrain from becoming obnoxiously competitive.
20. Throw a masquerade ball
Masquerade balls first emerged in the 15th century, during Carnival season. They were then held to celebrate special occasions in the lives of royals, such as coronations and marriages, throughout the Age of Enlightenment.
To throw a successful party inspired by those dramatic and extravagant dances of the Renaissance, your team is going to have to commit — so you better start getting organized early. Your costumes, masks and décor are going to need some thought and planning to look convincing, but if you pull it off then it’ll be a party to remember for a lifetime!
21. Go on a chocolate factory tour
Is there a chocolate factory in or near your city? Why not channel your inner Charlie Bucket and go on a tour to discover how those wonderful, sweet creations are made?
If nobody on the team has an irrational objection to chocolate, contact the chocolatiers in advance to ensure that you find a slot for your team to visit. After all, you’ll likely have to beat some very eager and sugar-dependent kids to it.
22. Craft your own Christmas wreaths
Organizing an arts and crafts afternoon with your colleagues over cups of mulled wine can be the perfect way to welcome in the holiday season. There are ways to make the activity very budget friendly, too, such as using natural materials like pinecones, vines and mistletoe berries to decorate your wreaths.
A few pairs of scissors, some thin craft wire and twine rope and you’ll be ready to go! You can find tons of inspiration on websites like Pinterest, bounce ideas off one another and even collaborate to put together your creations.
23. Play a murder mystery game
A Christmas-themed murder mystery party can be a very entertaining way to spend an evening with your colleagues. Everyone will be given a role to play, which means you won’t have to sit through painful updates on people’s dogs, children or hobbies — until after you’ve solved the mystery, at least.
So, gather everyone around, assign roles, make someone the murderer, and observe the various ways in which everyone on the team tries to uncover the answer.
24. Take a candy making class
Can you guess what’s more fun than eating candy canes? Making them!
Although you’re probably thinking “that’s debatable”, taking a candy making class with your colleagues can be a fun way to spend the afternoon and bond with one another. Not to mention, handmade confectionery can make for a lovely gift for your loved ones — if you can resist munching on your creations on the ride back home, that is.
To get started, reach out to your local confectioners and ask if they do workshops, or take a look at Airbnb Experiences for a follow-along your team might enjoy.
25. Have a Christmas movie marathon
Picture this: you get into the office one morning but instead of a horrifying Excel spreadsheet greeting you, you hear the Home Alone soundtrack beckoning you into the conference room. Spending the first or second half of your day watching a Christmas classic or two wouldn’t be such a terrible thing, would it?
So, make some popcorn, stream a movie on that big screen that’s otherwise reserved for (sadly boring) presentations, and maybe slip a few drops of Baileys into your hot chocolate. The day will go by faster than you can shout “KEVIN!”.
When planning the office Christmas party, there’s a lot to consider. From venues to budget plans and dietary requirements, there’s an endless list of things to get through. But, most importantly, you need to come up with a fun and entertaining theme.
And while you might be tempted to stick to what’s been tried and tested already, don’t be afraid to spice things up with more alternative party ideas like these ones! Undoubtedly, they’ll be a great hit with your team.
Join the discussion! Can you think of other alternative Christmas party ideas for the office? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!
Originally published on December 2, 2021. Updated by Electra Michaelidou.