You have a coveted seat on your office holiday party planning committee. It’s up to you to make it a standout and memorable event. One-by-one your coworkers come to you and ask, “So what’s the theme of this year’s Christmas party?” Confused you reply, “Um, Christmas?” Well, duh. And snore. Just because it’s been done since the dawn of time (or the foundation of the company) doesn’t mean you have to do it the same exact way year after year until the end of time. In fact, that’s precisely why you should mix it up.
So, how does Christmas have a theme other than Christmas, you ask? Ho, ho, ho, you’re a silly pup. Sit back and tell you a thing or two about how to add a theme to your holiday partying.
1. Christmas in Vegas
Skip the kiddy party games, casino night is for the big boys and girls. Of course, you should still make it holiday themed (who calls dibs on dealing blackjack in a Santa Suit?) but roll out the dice and the poker chips and find out who Lady Luck thinks is naughty or nice. Buuuut since Christmas is about giving to other, you might opt to make it a charity fundraising event where winnings go to a worthy cause.
2. Christmas Time Machine
Have you ever felt like you were born in the wrong era (“I would have roared the hell out of those 20’s had I been there!”)? Here’s your chance to go back in time with an era-themed party (less expensive than a time machine, and less likely to completely rearrange the history of mankind). Maybe you love the Great Gatsby style glitz, fashion, and art deco of the 20’s. Maybe you’ve always wanted to rock around the clock in a poodle skirt in the 50’s, want to relive the free love hippy days of the 60’s, or break out your neon MJ Hammer pants from the 80’s and tease your hair to great heights. Can’t pick just one? Great news—Christmas comes around every year so switch up the era you’ll pay homage to every December.
3. Christmas Karaoke
Whether you’re Mariah-esque in your version of Santa Baby (in your mind at least?) or you need a couple of egg nogs before you can muster the courage to grab the mike and perform Jingle Bell Rock (complete with the dance moves you choreographed for you and your friends back in your school talent show), karaoke Christmas can be a fun time to bond over good and bad singing. Though Christmas songs should definitely be on the list, it doesn’t have to be all holiday tunes—mix it up with hits that different generations have loved singing in the car to for decades.
If your already sick of winter by the time the holidays come around, don’t just join the
Cold Weather Complainers Club do something about it. Well we didn’t mean move south; we were talking about something a bit less drastic like a tropical theme to your holiday party (a reverse Christmas in July). Crank up the heat in the office, mix the Mai Tais, break out the coconut bras and grass skirts and pretend you’re all in a wonderfully warm tropical place for a few hours.
5. 12 Cocktails A-Mixin’
I mean honestly, what would you do with 3 french hens and 8 maids a-milking anyway—you don’t even own cows! But you can give the everyone something they can love—signature cocktails (and mocktails for those who prefer the non-alcoholic version). You don’t have to bartend and mix them all yourself—pick several helpers to create and mix fun cocktails or even themed-cocktails (Christmas, winter, tropics, etc.) for the party. Set up stations for each cocktail/theme and have non-cocktail makers bring signature dips or other treats (if you’re doing a theme, assign them a station with like-themed cocktails) to contribute. You’ll have all the ladies dancing and all the lords a-leaping over this one (responsibly, of course).
6. Holiday Ho-down
Have everyone trade in their snow boots for country boots and their ski hats for cowboy hats and let the line dancing begin. If you haven’t already guessed, we’re talking country-themed Christmas. Put on country Christmas songs (and mix it in with regular country songs), rustle up some catered BBQ, and let the whiskey sours and porch tea flow freely.
7. Snowman Party
Your company may include people who don’t celebrate Christmas or other religious-based holidays during the end of the year, so a snowman party to celebrate the beauty of winter can be a fun and inclusive alternative. Hold a marshmallow snowman contest, have people contribute their favorite warm winter recipes, and set up a fancy hot chocolate station with tons of accoutrements (candy canes, mini-mallows, rock sugar, etc.). You’ll also find that there is no shortage of snowman and winter décor around, so have a (snow)ball with it.
8. Christmas in Paris
Your end of year bonus may not have taken you as far as Paris (hell, it barely afforded you that package of croissants), but you can still have a Christmas full of elegance in a City of Lights of your own making. Go glitter and gold with your decor, break out authentic French foods like champagne, French wine, and French pastries, and foie gras, set up bistro tables with flowers and little Eiffel Towers, and of course, have plenty of elegant lights. Who needs the hassle of a trans-Atlantic flight, anyway.
9. Christmas Around the World
So maybe Paris isn’t your thing (that’s cool, who needs amazing food and wine, amiright), but you have a great appreciation for the cultures of the world. Or perhaps your place of work includes people from many different cultural backgrounds. Celebrate diversity and the beauty of different traditions from around the world with a global potluck. Have everyone choose a country to research and make a traditional holiday dish. Make a playlist of holiday songs from around the world and even create a holiday trivia game based on the traditions of different cultures. Let everyone enjoy a little world peace.
10. Classy Christmas Masquerade Ball
If you’re going big this year (renting a venue, lots of invitees, etc), a masquerade ball combines class, decadence, and mystery. Have everyone dressed to the nines for a night of twirling on the dance floor and flirtatious unmasking (have we been watching too many period dramas?). You can have guests bring their own masks or give out masks that they can decorate themselves (provide markers, glitter, feathers). Bring in a live band that can get everyone on the dance floor and has the versatility to mix in slow jams with party favorites (and maybe even some classic ballroom numbers if you’re feeling extra fancy and also have been watching too many period dramas with ballroom scenes).
11. Winter Wonderland
Maybe you want to go classy but take it down a notch from the mysterious masked flirting and to-the-nines-dress-up. A winter wonderland theme can be magical, elegant, and even cozy. White and blue décor and lighting, elegant twinkle lights, ice sculptures, vodka cocktails, and foods that warm the body and soul, and perhaps glitzy semi-formal attire—turn the venue into a winter palace that will melt even the frostiest hearts.
If you want to go less formal with your winter wonderland, that’s fun, too. Give out gifts of cozy scarves, have everyone break out their best plaid and flannel shirts, bring in polar bear and penguin décor. Or consider taking the party outside to an ice-skating rink.
Either way you want to go, there’s tons of ways to celebrate the coldest time of the year. Face it, Cold Weather Complainers Club, it’s wintertime, so you might as well embrace it.
And then there’s a holiday theme for the rest-ivus. Maybe your company is diverse, maybe everyone isn’t into the traditional holiday doings, or maybe you are all just huge Seinfeld fans—a minimalist Festivus Christmas complete with Festivus Meatloaf dinner and Festivus Pole might be just the thing for you. If you decide to go with the traditional Festivus Airing of Grievances and Feats of Strength, keep it chill—you all still have to see each other at work the next day.
No one wants to play boring party games or *gasp* have to come up with small talk to strangers, co-workers’ significant others, or colleagues that they see nearly every waking hour of their lives and know everything (you want them to know) about you. Themed holiday parties are an alternative way to add some fun to your end of year parties, give everyone something to do besides stare at each other, and definitely provide fodder for the company gossip mill. Happy partying everyone!