Holiday Staff Parties 101


It’s time to coordinate your company’s holiday party, and you don’t know where to begin. So let’s start with the “why.” First of all, the holiday staff party is an opportunity to show staff that you appreciate them. It can also be a great team-building event. And with tax season looming just around the corner, a party can give your team a chance to catch their breath and be refreshed before things get hectic. To have a great party that accomplishes all this and more, follow these corporate party planning tips.

Poll the Team

Seek input from staff regarding what they would like to do while also considering the demographics of your team when planning your holiday party. For example, if a large percentage of staff are parents of young children, consider a family-friendly event. On the other hand, if your team is small, you can opt for a more intimate setting or splurge for a more expensive venue. Considering your staff’s preferences will go a long way toward showing your appreciation and ensuring that all enjoy the party.

Communicate Guidelines

Giving clear guidelines for expected party behavior will take the guesswork out of it for your guests and remind them that though this is a party, it is still a business event. Some things to spell out –

  • Dress code:  Adjust the dress code for the venue and the atmosphere you want to encourage. Is this a black-tie affair, or is business casual the order of the day? If you are taking your team to a specific activity, such as bowling or an escape room,  practical attire is appropriate.
  • Alcohol policy:  Be specific. Is there is a drink limit? Will start the evening alcohol-free during the program and meal, then open the bar during the games and dancing? Is this is entirely a non-alcoholic event?  Let the staff know if transportation home will be provided or do they need to plan for designated drivers.
  • Behavior guidelines: When attending the company holiday party, some may hear “party” and forget “company.” Remind staff to conduct themselves at the party in the way they want to be remembered at work the rest of the year.
  • Specify who the invitation includes: Is it a staff-only party, or is everyone allowed a plus one?

Give Gifts

One of the highlights of a holiday staff party is the swag! Remember to keep it professional and avoid personal items like jewelry, perfume, or clothing (unless it’s company jackets/sweaters). Avoid items not allowed at work like alcohol, off-color, or gag gifts. Here are a few suggestions to express your holiday spirit –

  • Electronics—earphones or portable power banks
  • Desk accessories, personalized journals
  • Books— in paper form or Kindle
  • A basket of popcorn, candy, and soda with a gift card from Red Box or an OTT service
  • Food—a collection of gourmet coffee or chocolates or gift certificates to a local high-end restaurant

Throw a Virtual Party

If your area company or local area has been experiencing a spike in illnesses, consider throwing a virtual party. However, you can still make it a memorable event. Ideas for fun include –

  • Invite your employees to include their housemates and pets in the festivities. It will be fun for everyone to see a different side of their coworkers.
  • Plan games to keep people engaged. For game ideas, visit Let’s Roam Teambuilding.
  • Include a Secret Santa gift exchange. Organize the exchange yourself or use Elfster.
  • If your company is large, follow the advice of Kat Tenbarge from Insider, who recommends inviting fewer people to a virtual party than you would online. Consider dividing staff into groups (by department, last name, random draw, etc.) to keep it intimate and easier to talk on the platform.

Remember, as you plan your holiday staff party, the goal is to express appreciation and build team spirit.

The team at Robert Joseph Group wants to express our gratitude to you, our clients, and wish you a happy holiday season.