Last Minute Tips to Get Your Employees in the Holiday Spirit

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employees in the holiday spirit

It’s too late to plan a big company holiday party – and you and your staff have been too busy to deal with it. Now, all the venues you wanted are booked up and the caterers are busy. No worries.

Below are 6 last-minute ideas you can still pull together in time to celebrate the season with your team and get your employees in the holiday spirit.

How to Get Employees in the Holiday Spirit


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 as 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 the coming year.

Office Party Photo via Shutterstock


Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.

10 Reactions
  1. A christmas quiz and some simple office games can be an easy and affordable choice for smaller businesses.

    A company I worked with had a long running ‘Christmas desk competition’ in which different teams within the office had to cover their workspace in xmas decorations, which went down very well and provided a few weeks of entertainment.

    Stephen Greenwood

    • Hehe! I really like the ‘Christmas desk competition’ idea, Stephen! I can imagine how colourful the office looked!

      What was the prize for the winners?

      • It did look great as people were very creative! Wrapping their whole desk in Christmas wrapping paper and what have you.

        The winners got personalised mugs and some posh chocolate which they gloated about until way past January!

      • I guess it also cheered people up as well, to come into work and it look like something of a playground :). I know I’d feel that way.

        Mmmm, chocolaaaaaate! I’d compete just for that!

        You don’t work there anymore, but I should imagine they’re competing as we speak!

  2. Thanks Rieva! Like so many I feel like the holidays snuck up on me this year. These are great suggestions for embracing the holiday spirit. I especially love the volunteer suggestion.

  3. Before I started reading your ideas (which are great, by the way!), I was thinking: why not everyone bring in a drink and a dish to work? Great minds think alike, ey? 😉

    I do particularly like the last idea for the reasons you detailed.

  4. I agree with the volunteer part. But then again, there are still some businesses that function more on Christmas that they still cannot rest even if they like. But I guess a good Secret Santa will still get the employees in a Christmas mood.

    • Aira: the corner shops where I live are open on Christmas Day as it’s not customary for them to celebrate it. They make a killing over that period as most shops are normally closed at that time. I imagine that they do get in Xmas mood though with the footfall of celebrating customers that pass through; it’s bound to rub off on a shopkeeper.