It’s the time of year for holiday parties! This is when everyone can feel appreciated, and can be recognized for the work they’ve done all year. Most importantly, holiday parties are a good time to build company cohesion, encourage camaraderie and actually boost morale and engagement in the workplace. Speaking of engagement — since we’re sort of experts — we’d like to share some ideas for a great company holiday party that employees will truly want to attend.

Remember that holiday parties are truly an extension of your company culture. If your company is full of fun activities, this isn’t the time to have a lame party. In fact, a holiday fete that is really fun and engaging can lead to word-of-mouth about just how awesome the company is! That positivity can lead to higher Glassdoor scores, or brilliant potential hires beating a path to your door.

Speaking of hiring, be sure to check out this webinar on hiring for culture, lead by our own CEO, Autumn Manning!

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Individual Thank You’s

Best practice is to give individual, specific recognition to employees all year. However, the holiday party is a good time to focus on the one thing each employee does really well. Although the idea of an awards ceremony may be getting a little too close to the infamous Dundies, awards given by Michael Scott in the show The Office, there are other ways to show individual recognition.

Consider a table with envelopes, and each employee’s name is on an envelope. Inside, a custom letter details the great work they’ve done that year. This not only reminds managers of the work everyone is doing, it reminds everyone individually of how their work is appreciated, and why. This very personal touch will go a long way to smiles at the party, long before the eggnog is spiked.

Giving Back

Holidays are a time of tradition, and many groups have a tradition of giving back to the community around this time. Establishing a charity drive for food or clothing can be a rewarding and powerful experience for the lucky employees who are gainfully employed at your awesome workplace.

Breaking Down Walls

This is perhaps the single best time to encourage cross-department communications. Ideally, everyone’s in the same room, and the conversations can begin! Of course, it’s not that easy. People who work in different departments may be a little shy, so consider having activities to encourage bonding and communication.

Also, allowing spouses to a party makes everyone feel more connected. Some people talk about their co-workers being “like family” so what better way to instill this than to introduce them to your life partners? Now people at work will have a face for the name you keep mentioning when you talk about what’s happening at home.

Encourage Fun

It’s not enough to hire a DJ and hope for better than a middle school dance. Get creative with ways to introduce people, but don’t make this an orientation meeting! What about a round of trivia? Or, what about trivia questions placed around the room, on tables and the buffet? These conversation starters can tie into a theme or just be generic — anything to get people talking!

Photobooths are a popular item at parties, and encourage some of the more reserved employees to come out of their shell. Think about props for the photos that could be inside jokes within the company. Do they make llama masks? Is there a goofy wig the top salesperson wears on a good week? Let people take as many photos as they want and watch the fun happen.

Above All, Safety

It’s inadvisable to encourage a lot of drinking at holiday parties. Karaoke may sound like a great idea for an icebreaker, but it encourages drunkenness. Even so, if you have alcohol at the party, arrange for safe transportation home for anyone who needs it.

Also, be mindful of dietary restrictions and allergies. A lot of holiday goodies have nuts in them, and if you’re arranging a potluck, make sure there are options without allergens or meat, or anything that might exclude attendees.

Happy Holidays!

Here’s a good checklist for planning your company holiday party, but remember that it doesn’t have to be complicated. If you are budget-conscious, consider a simple luncheon and the personalized envelopes, or maybe a secret Santa. The real power in the holiday season is how it brings us together, and if you can achieve a higher level of togetherness as a result of the holiday soiree, that’s a powerful win for any company.


About YouEarnedIt:
YouEarnedIt is a SaaS HR technology platform that redefines the way companies engage with their employees. By providing tools to connect, reward, reveal and report in real-time, YouEarnedIt can consolidate employee engagement initiatives into one, easy-to-use mobile platform for teams of all sizes. Since launching in 2012, YouEarnedIt has delivered its flexible software to small enterprises and Fortune 500 brands across several industries. Visit for more information or schedule a quick demo here.

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Victor Agreda
Victor Agreda