It’s too late to plan a company holiday party—you and your staff have been too busy to deal with it, and now all the venues you wanted are booked up and the caterers are busy. No worries: Here are 6 last-minute ideas you can still pull together in time to celebrate the season with your team.
- Volunteer. Celebrate the season by giving back to your community. Does your business already have a local charity or community group you work with? Do you or your employees have favorite causes that you love to help out? If so, find out what these organizations are doing and what they need help with this time of year. If not, check your local newspapers’ listings or talk to your chamber of commerce, Lions, Kiwanis or Rotary club to find out how you can help. Also think outside the box: Homeless shelters often have more volunteers than they can handle at Thanksgiving or Christmas, but charities such as animal shelters or battered women’s centers may be less swamped.
- Eat and be merry. Have a potluck lunch at your business where everyone brings in a traditional holiday dish. Or get creative: Have staff members bring in food from their family heritage, set a theme like Mexican or Cajun cuisine, or do a dessert bake-off where everyone brings in a sweet treat (bonus: You’re sure to have leftovers people can take home). Be sure to decorate festively and plan for appropriately themed music and silly games. Put an enthusiastic employee or employee committee in charge, give them a budget and see what they come up with.
- Secret Santa. There’s still time to put together a Secret Santa exchange. Keep it affordable (under $20 or even $10) so no one feels put upon. You can make it more fun by doing a Secret Santa grab where everyone gets three chances to “steal” a gift from someone else.
- Holiday contests. Hold an ugly holiday sweater or holiday costume contest where everyone dresses up. Offer prizes for the winner/s such as gift cards to local retailers or restaurants. Or have a cubicle decorating contest to see who can come up with the most over-the-top desk décor.
- Take time off. If you don’t have time to plan an event, chances are your employees are as stressed out and overloaded as you are. If your business schedule allows, consider giving everyone an afternoon off with pay. They’ll appreciate some extra time to get their holiday shopping done or just catch up on all the obligations of this time of year.
- See you next year. Instead of stressing about not having a holiday party, why not plan a New Year’s celebration? Rates for venues and caterers are likely to be lower after the holidays, and you’ll have more options available to you. Plus, you and your team will be more relaxed once the holiday rush is over. Bonus: In addition to looking back at the past year, a post-New Year’s party gives you a reason to look ahead and get everyone psyched up about the plans you’ve got for even greater business success in 2014.