Ideas & Inspiration

8 Ideas for Holiday & Year-End Parties


A lot of companies and organizations host holiday and year-end gatherings to show their staffs just how much they appreciate all their hard work. As the U.S.’s work force becomes more diverse, employers have to come out with new themes and settings in order for everyone to feel included, valued and happy.

To help event planners, we have some suggestions on how to design year-end parties and be “politically correct.”


1. Evergreen scented candles, evergreen branches and pinecones

Evergreen scented candles, evergreen branches and pinecones are looking to be popular as decorations this year, as well as non-secular music, such as “Jingle Bells,” “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” and other fun tunes to get revelers in the mood for fun and frivolity. The theme provides a light atmosphere for execs as well as other blue collar and professional workers to all party together. The props are relatively low cost. Don’t forget the colored lights!

2. Disco is not dead! Quite the opposite

Disco is not dead! Quite the opposite, as multi-colored balloons catch the glistening lights from the spinning disco balls, and the DJ blasts classic ‘80s tunes from the likes of Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor and Chic, mixed in with holiday remakes from The Tramps (“Sleigh Ride”) and The Whispers (“Funky Christmas”). Finger food and red and white colored drinks flow, as assistants, VPs, and sales people flock to the dance floor get in on the action. For added fun, planners can encourage partygoers to dress as people did in the ‘80s and prizes can be issued to Most Authentic, Biggest Hair, etc.

3. Intimate dinner parties

Intimate dinner parties (30 or less) can be scheduled at restaurants that will allow planners to decorate in the traditional colors of the holidays – red, green, gold and silver – as long as it’s done tastefully. This is the best setting for the giving of bonuses as well as an opportunity for bosses to speak (or give speeches) to their employees.

4. The ugly sweater party

Then there’s the ugly sweater party. Everyone gets them from well-meaning grandparents, kids and friends looking to annoy someone. Bright reds with Frosty plastered all over, mock turtlenecks with odd-looking Rudolphs leading Santa into the night, bold colored ones painted with funny sayings… it’s engaging, especially if there are contests and prizes created around them. It’s festive and the cost is minimal with multi-colored lights, some balloons and tinsel circling the room, with cookies, candy and light refreshments available as well.

5. A Toys for Tots event can engage staff to party with a purpose

A Toys for Tots event can engage staff to party with a purpose. People have to bring a child’s present to gain entry. A beautifully decorated tree complements red and green candles around the room, as holiday favorites play lightly in the background. Make it festive with a karaoke machine – if someone fails to bring a toy, he/she must sing a song, or anyone can grab the mic and give it a go. Give a few staffers cards with numbers on them to grade the performances in “Dancing With the Stars” style.

6. The Great Cookie Swap

The Great Cookie Swap. Everyone must bring cookies (preferably homemade!) in shapes of trees, Santa, bells or gingerbread men. Choose a few people to taste the cookies and decide which ones are the real deal and which ones are bought. Don’t forget the milk!

7. How about a Wrap Party?

How about a Wrap Party? Again, people can party with a purpose, as it’s turned into a charity event as your group wraps gifts for a local charity for kids. Make it extra fun by putting partiers in groups of two or three to wrap just one present. Then issue prizes for Sloppiest, Prettiest, Oddest, etc. It’s fun and your costs are minimal – paper, tape, scissors, bows – and it leaves your revelers with a warm glow for doing good while having a blast.

8. 12 Days of Treats

12 Days of Treats. Survey the employees or organizations as to what their favorite holiday treats are, such as fruit cake, candy canes, chocolate Santas, cinnamon cookies, gingerbread, etc. Choose the top 12 most popular and have them on hand for partygoers to enjoy along with hot apple cider, cocoa and other holiday libations.

A lot of people, especially in urban areas, can’t always be with their families during the holidays. Giving them remembrances of home will be a treat for them and make for a very festive occasion that doesn’t cost a lot of money.

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