Have you started thinking about your company's holiday party yet? If not, time is sneaking up on you, but there's still time to plan a bash your employees will be excited to attend. Corporate holiday parties have a reputation for being a bit stale, but there are lots of ways you can get creative and inject some real holiday spirit into the event. Your party is a great opportunity to get together with your team, enjoy each other's company, and let everyone know how much you appreciate their hard work over the last year. These ideas can help you make it a party to remember.

1. Pick a Theme

Want to turn a ho-hum get-together into a memorable one? Give it a theme. Even a standard drinks-and-catering party becomes a lot more fun when everyone is wearing masquerade masks or Hawaiian leis. You can pick about anything as your theme (just make sure it won't raise any eyebrows in HR). Here are some ideas:

  • Throw a winter wonderland party with white décor, fake snow, and twinkling lights.
  • Choose a favorite holiday movie as your theme.
  • Pick your favorite decade, or have your employees vote on their favorite decade.
  • Choose a color theme. A black-and-white party is simple and classy, and it gives people a chance to dress up. Red-and-white is a festive alternative.
  • Decorate your venue like a fun getaway. Why not have this year's party at a tropical resort or Alpine cabin?
  • Incorporate international holiday traditions into your party. If you have team members from around the world, ask them to help you come up with ideas.

2. Give Out Door Prizes

Door prizes make a welcome addition to any company party. Who doesn't love winning something? Think about what kind of prizes fit your budget and what your employees will appreciate most. A few tried-and-true ideas include:

  • Gift cards
  • Tech gadgets - think a FitBit or a nice pedometer
  • Fancy chocolate
  • Paid days off
  • Coffee mugs - fill them with candy, tea bags, or other treats
  • Tickets to a game or show

3. Break the Ice with Festive Activities

Party games aren't just for kids! Plan some activities to help your employees loosen up and get to know each other. Activities that require working together are especially great for building a sense of team spirit. Here are some ideas you can try:

  • Play holiday-themed charades.
  • Set up a pin-the-nose-on-Rudolph game.
  • Divide guests into teams and send them on a scavenger hunt.
  • Have a Christmas movie trivia contest.
  • Build gingerbread houses, either individually or as teams.
  • Set up a table where guests can decorate their own ornaments or cookies.

4. Rent or Make a Photo Booth to Remember the Occasion

Encourage your employees to make their own Kodak moments by setting up a photo booth for your party. If renting a photo booth is out of your budget, improvise by making your own. Create a festive backdrop by decorating a piece of butcher paper or a white sheet. A string of lights makes a nice touch, too. Have plenty of fun props on hand (Santa hats and tinsel are mandatory), and get ready to strike a pose!

5. Give Back to the Community

Put an altruistic spin on your holiday party by using it as an opportunity to help other people out. One way to do this is to hold a drive. Ask your employees to bring in non-perishable food for the food bank or toys for kids in need.

Another idea is to take your employees out to volunteer as a group for a few hours. Lend a hand at a shelter or soup kitchen, or use a service like VolunteerMatch to find another opportunity near you. Afterwards, take your team out for a casual dinner or drinks. Getting out and doing some good in the world will help your employees bond and get into the holiday spirit much better than another Secret Santa gift exchange at the office will.

6. Have a Potluck

Keeping your party casual this year? Consider having a potluck so your crew can show off their cooking or baking skills. Potlucks are budget-friendly, and there are always a wide variety of delicious foods for everyone to sample. Keep things organized by creating a sign-up sheet for the whole office, so you know who's bringing what.

Another fun spin on the potluck idea is to hold a dessert potluck. Have your main meal catered, and ask your employees to bring in their favorite sweet treats. You can even turn it into a friendly competition by holding a vote on the best dessert.

7. Bring in Some Entertainment

Want an Elvis impersonator at your holiday party this year? How about a magician or a face painter? Good entertainment can really take your party to the next level, especially if you hire a performer or band that lines up with the theme of your party. If you're planning to book any entertainment, do it well ahead of time, so you don't have to scramble to find someone a week before the event.

8. Switch Up Your Gift Exchange

Having a Secret Santa gift exchange can be fun, but let's be honest - it gets a little worn-out year after year. Try changing things up with a white elephant gift exchange, where everyone brings a gift that's strange, funny, or unusable. Other fresh ideas:

  • Have a cookie swap. Everyone brings a plate of their favorite cookies (as well as the recipe, if they're homemade). Draw names to decide who gets which cookies.
  • Have a themed gift exchange. For instance, specify that people can only give each other books or edible treats.
  • Play a guessing game. The first person to guess what's in a package gets to keep it.
  • In lieu of an office gift swap, have everyone put the money they would have spent on a gift towards charity. One good option is to "adopt" a family in need in your area.

9. Have a Group Outing

While your employees will probably appreciate a great office party, they'll enjoy a day out of the office even more. Getting a change of scenery and doing something enjoyable together is often the best way to build camaraderie, so take the afternoon off and go somewhere with your team. Active outings, like bowling or ice-skating, are usually a hit. Other ideas include seeing a sports game or comedy show together, playing laser tag, or visiting an escape room.

If you're planning to include alcohol in the day, consider following up your outing with a visit to a bar. That way, anyone who doesn't want to drink will be able to opt out of the second part without feeling excluded from the main event.

Are You Inspired to Throw a Great Holiday Party This Year?

Whatever your budget, company culture, and employees are like, there's a holiday party idea out there that's perfect for your team. Use this as a starting point to spark your creativity.

Still not sure what kind of party you should throw? Poll your employees! They'll appreciate that you care about their opinions, and they'll enjoy the party more if they get to have some say in what happens.

Don't forget, the best gift of the season is spending quality time with others. Foster a sense of good will and friendship at your party, and it will be sure to be a memorable one.