6 Office Holiday Celebration Ideas

As we enter the holiday season, I can’t help but reminisce about my previous holiday celebrations in the workplace. While I see my clients start to decorate their workspaces, the poinsettias arrive, the trees go up, employees seem both incredibly happy and stressed all at the same time. Projects seem to slow down a bit and deadlines are pushed out to January. As a consultant working out of my home, I will miss the office chatter, the festive lunches, and maybe even the office Christmas Party (although I didn’t care for them when I HAD to go).

Not a lot has changed over the years. For years companies took their parties off site; but recently employers seem to be opting for the 80s inspired “at the office alcohol induced” celebrations where useless gifts are exchanged and someone usually says or does something inappropriate. Have we learned nothing from The Office Christmas Specials?

Perhaps we can show true gratitude to our employees by offering them something more meaningful. Here are a few ideas:

Just BeClaus Hour

This came about a few years ago and it has been my favourite ever since. I was working for an incredibly high growth oil company which for some reason always acquired a new business effective January 1st – despite our best intentions. That meant December was crazy so I was looking at having someone come in to the office to do a 1 hour session about managing stress during the holidays. When I started asking employees what they thought, the response was overwhelmingly “Thanks Sarah, but I could really just use the 1 hour to get things done”. So, that’s what we did. Every employee had an extra hour during the month of December to shop, run errands, etc. They usually came in late, left early, or took an extended lunch. We called it the Just BeClaus hour.

Multi-Cultural Celebrations

Most of us love to celebrate Christmas this time of year, but let’s not forget that there are other holidays to consider, like Hanukkah, Pancha Ganapati, and Kwanzaa to name a few. Have a pot luck each Friday in December to recognize and celebrate these traditions. If you have no one in the office that is familiar with the holiday, do some research, learn something new, and honour these traditions. For fun you may even want to throw in Festivus.

New Years Eve Party

Years ago companies started calling their Christmas parties “Holiday Parties” to the dismay of many employees. Guess what? If there is a Christmas tree and Christmas music it is still a Christmas party – call it what you want. Try planning a New Years Eve party instead. Offer it to your employees for free or a reduced ticket rate and sell tickets so they can bring friends and family. Use proceeds to cover the cost of the event or provide hotel accommodations for your employees. If you really want to win big with your employees offer onsite childcare during the party – get kids to bring their sleeping bags and watch movies while their parents ring in the New Year!

Recognize your Employee’s Supporters

“Behind Every Great Man is a Great Women” is an incredibly dated expression but it applies here. Behind every great employee is a great support system, whether it is a spouse, parent, or friend, someone is providing encouragement, motivation, or just picking up the slack at home while your employee is working late. Recognize that. Send them a card, a gift card for dinner for two, or simply thank them at the “Holiday” party.

Christmas Closure

Close the office between Christmas and New Years. I understand many companies like retail or essential services can not close for this length of time, but try to think of alternatives – work from home arrangements, on call, job sharing, etc. No one wants to be there and productivity is at about 25% anyways. Your employees deserve the break.

Get People Home Christmas Eve

I once worked for a company where no one could leave on Christmas Eve until the CEO was finished wishing all 500 employees Merry Christmas. Because I worked on the same floor as the CEO, my department was always the last to be visited. Every year we were there until 4pm, after which I began the 4 hour drive home for the holidays. No one should be working past noon on Christmas Eve!

I always enjoy hearing about new ways to celebrate while being inclusive during the holiday season, so let me know if you can add to my list. Also, if you enjoyed this read, be sure to like and share it!

Sarah Mullins is the founder of uptreeHR, a Halifax based human resource consulting firm that is passionate about helping business owners manage their people, set clear expectations and increase performance. We truly believe you can treat your employees well, create an amazing culture and not break the bank.

To book a complimentary 30 minute consult with Sarah, click here.

Sarah Mullins, CPHR
Principle Consultant

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