Oh, look! Now that fall's almost here, all the typical company holiday party themes are starting to come out of hiding.
You know the themes intimately, much like you know your route to work. "Winter Wonderland," "Let It Snow," and "Frosty the Snowman" seem to take hold of corporate party planners' minds and insist that they're the best options of all time. Nothing else will ever be more appropriate.
We beg to differ. In fact, most employees beg to differ -- you can hardly find a company holiday party article online that doesn't talk about how much employees dislike these get-togethers. They'd rather have a simple bash than deal with lame holiday celebrations (that's right... lame).
So what's a company to do? Get outside the ho-hum holiday themes box and try something your employees may actually want to experience.
Cheesy Christmas --
Not all typical company holiday party themes have to be taken so seriously.
If you're going to stick with the traditional themes, you may as well poke fun of that fact. This works wonderfully for a corporate group with a sense of humor. Go all-out with whatever theme you're choosing, whether that be candy canes, snowmen, snowflakes, or Santa. Decorate everything you possibly can, just to be goofy.
You can even ask your employees to dress in the theme's colors. Alternatively, they can all wear their most ugly Christmas sweaters and you can have a competition. That's a tradition employees don't seem to get tired of in the least!
Ethnic Festivities --
The "Feliz Navidad" theme is pretty typical, and not everyone likes Mexican food.
But there are hundreds of other ethnic holiday traditions around the world that you can pick from. Try a Kwanzaa-themed company holiday party complete with African colors and a feast (called karamu), or go for a Filipino-style bash because they apparently can't get enough of the season (the country's famous for being the one to celebrate Christmas the longest).
You don't have to pick just one country/ethnicity, either. Consider setting up separate stations around your company holiday party venue for every ethnicity you plan to represent, and let your employees have a global taste of the season!
Charity Support --
A lot of the Christmas spirit is about giving, so why not extend that to your party, as well?
Charity parties have recently become one of the most popular company holiday party themes. Companies small and large are going with this theme idea. For example, Delta Airlines threw a party where they took under-privileged children who'd never been on a plane before to a hangar at JFK airport where they all celebrated the season, aviation-style.
You may not be Delta Airlines, but you can still throw a great charity-themed party. Pick a charity your employees would love to raise money for, and either charge for party entrance or run an auction during the festivities. Consider allowing your employees to give their holiday bonuses partially or fully to the charity of their choice.
Some of your more hard-hearted employees (aka Grinches) might grumble, but charity parties are very successful at putting all their attendees in a more caring, joyful spirit.
Masquerade Ball --
So this one's kind of cheating because we've listed it before when we've written about company holiday party themes.
However, it's worth mentioning again because it's so darn classic. And classic doesn't necessarily equal lame, especially with a masquerade-themed party. It's a time-tested holiday party theme that won't go away because employees love it so much. The masks, the costumes, the intrigue -- who can resist?
A masquerade ball would make an even bigger impact on your employees if you picked the right venue for the event. Locations with old world, European, and ballroom-type elements are key to setting up the right atmosphere and making this an unforgettable event.
"Let Your Employees Choose" Party --
Let's face it: sometimes your party planning committee would rather leave some of the decisions up to the rest of their co-workers.
If this is the case, turn to your employees for their preferences on what kind of party they want. You can send out a simple email requesting people submit their top 3 company holiday party themes, or you can think of several themes yourself and ask them to pick their favorites out of those.
Keep in mind that if you take this route, not everyone will be happy with the final choice. You can't please everyone. Then again, not all your employees would have liked the theme your party-planning team may have picked in the first place, and many of your employees may simply appreciate you asked about their opinion at all (which might make them happier to come to the party!).
Company holiday party themes don't have to be the same old shindigs with that horrid Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer statue or with the boss dressed as Santa Claus again (though that's usually pretty funny).
Feel free to mix it up this season so that your employees will appreciate the experience and actually look forward to what you'll do for them at next year's holiday party!
What was your company's most enjoyable holiday party theme? Why did you enjoy it?