Ah, the office holiday party—awkwardly socializing with superiors while munching on mini corn dogs; engaging in job-endangering alcohol consumption; and attending to alienated spouses with no one to talk to. Of course, not every workplace holiday party is a bummer. Parties can allow employees to celebrate the season and let off some steam in the company of valued coworkers. But if you’re looking for an alternative—or even a supplement—to the traditional office fête, consider these five feel-good crowd-pleasers:
- Put together holiday stockings for low-income families. Coordinate with local shelters, food pantries, or other charities to find out what’s most needed, and ask employees to bring in those items—books, school supplies, new socks and underwear, hats, and gloves are always good choices. Provide stockings and/or festive wrapping paper, ribbons, and boxes, along with refreshments. Your coworkers will appreciate the opportunity to help those most in need this holiday season.
- Host a holiday cookie party. A holiday cookie party is a festive and simple way to celebrate the season. Ask each employee to bring in a certain number of cookies—say, a dozen. Brew up some coffee, tea, and hot cider. Arrange the cookies on a well-decorated table in the break room, crank up the holiday tunes, and dig in. Make it inclusive by stressing that the cookies don’t have to be homemade. It’s a good idea to provide labels so that bakers can label their cookies. (It’s especially important to note if they’re gluten-free, vegan, or friendly to other special diets.)
- Organize a school or park cleanup. December is the season to give back. If you’re in a temperate area, your organization can make a big difference to a local school or park by putting together an outdoor cleanup day. You can work with your local parks department or school district to plan this. Make reservations at a nearby pub or pizza place for the group to congregate at afterward.
- Have a meaningful potluck. Ask your team members to bring in holiday foods that are meaningful to them (and the associated recipes). These can be traditional foods, family favorites, whatever sparks meaning. After everyone feasts on the dishes, assemble the recipes and stories into a booklet and distribute to all.
- Inject some competition into the holiday season. Nothing gets the juices flowing quite like a contest. Plan a competition with a holiday theme, like ugly sweaters or best-decorated cubicles. . Gather at the end of the day to award prizes and sip eggnog.
An alternative to the traditional office party may be just what your team needs to refresh and reconnect in a different light.
Miriam Wolf is the editor of The FruitGuys Magazine newsletter.