How to Plan an Office Holiday Party That Doesn't Suck

'Tis the season for awkward Secret Santa exchanges and stiff conversations with your supervisor’s spouse.

Here’s the scenario: You've been tasked with the high pressure position of planning the perfect office holiday party. You know, that annual event where Jake from finance accidentally invites both his girlfriends and Brenda from HR (HR!) gets a little too drunk on egg nog and decides to dance on her desk at what was supposed to be a calm, quiet Christmas cocktail reception.


So how do you plan a company holiday party that considers office politics, is appropriate for the size of your staff, and will leave employees with just enough holiday cheer, but not forgetting they have to show up to the office the next day.

Here are a few of Alchemy's quick tips for planning a corporate holiday party that is fun and memorable instead of boring or awkward.

1. Find the right venue for your staff holiday party

Just like for a heated college football rivalry, we recommend finding neutral ground for your end of year event. Logistically, it makes more sense: you won't have to worry about moving around office furniture or building security (who wants to sign an NDA to go to a company Christmas party?!), plus if you choose the right venue for your staff party you won't get stuck clearing wine bottles and washing sticky floors at the end of the night. Seems ideal. We have an extensive list of the best event venues in Austin, and would love to chat about the right one for your corporate celebration.

2. Give your event a great holiday party theme

We are suckers for a really awesome themed event, and the list of holiday themes for your workplace party is practically endless, especially when you consider non-holiday themes that are just as fun in December as they are the rest of the year. (If you can do Christmas in July, why can't you do Boat Party in December?!) Here are a couple of quirky suggestions to get you started, but don't let your creativity stop here:

    1. Nightmare Before Christmas

    2. 1990s Family Christmas Vacation

    3. Ski Lodge Soiree

    4. Die Hard (Never hurts to create a bit of carefully crafted controversy... is it a Christmas movie?!)

    5. Palm Springs Christmas

3. Keep your work holiday party brief

The best way to ensure wanting to continue a working relationship with dozens of colleagues the next day, week, or month after a wild night is to keep the party light and keep it short. Consider the culture of your office when planning holiday party activities: don't drag out a 90 minute white elephant gift exchange if no one is into it, but if a couple of guys from your sales team have a 5-minute hilarious skit they want to perform that will build energy and provide entertainment value, put it on the production schedule. Keep any remarks quick, and definitely, under any circumstances do not let a drunk executive get ahold of a microphone.

4. Drop the "holiday" in company holiday party

Avoid the political correctness of recognizing every single holiday that falls between November to January (Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Christmas, Diwali) while simultaneously respecting those who refrain from any religious celebrations and forgo the event entirely. Who says you have to have an office holiday party before the end of the year just because everyone else is? It's a busy time of year, and quite frankly your employees might thank you for giving them one less thing to do before they take off on their annual family vacation. Instead, why not have a company-wide kickoff party in January? There's a really exciting energy in the New Year, and you might find that you end up planning the best holiday party that isn't even a holiday party.

5. Hire a corporate event planner for your corporate holiday party

Hate to state the obvious here, but it can't hurt to bring in some help. You've worked hard this year and you deserve to have a glass of champagne (or three!) at the end of the year. We'll deck the halls and cue up the carols and don't worry, we'll even let you take the credit. The better we do our jobs - the more likely it is that no one will even notice we are there! We're like Santa’s little magical holiday elves.

It's not an easy task, but your annual staff Christmas party doesn't have to be boring, awkward, or obligatory. Add a little sugar & spice to your plans and you'll be sure to leave your team buzzing long after the Mistle-tini's wear off.

Happy Holiday Planning!

The Alchemy Elves

Richelle Ouellette