20 Office Christmas Party Games & Activities Everyone Will Love
- Candy cane relay race
- “Guess Who” with baby pictures
- Holiday ABC game
- Celebrate a variety of traditions
- Dress like an elf, Santa, or a reindeer
- Office “snowball” fight
- Set up a photo booth
- Bring the kids
- Watch a classic holiday movie
- Play “Name That Tune”
- White Elephant or Secret Santa
- Light up the party spot
- Baked Goods Buffet
- Wear ugly sweaters
- Ornament exchange
- Give everyone a mini stocking
- Volunteer as a company
- Gingerbread showdown
- Flex hours
- Schedule the party at a nice venue
Is your office holiday party right around the corner? Are you worried that your entire team will stand around awkwardly, holding onto their eggnog for dear life? If so, you’re in some serious need of a few festive activities, games, and holiday party ideas that will get all the adults feeling like kids again!
Tell your inner Grinch to hit the road, and carve out some time for festive fun and holiday spirit. After all, what’s the harm in letting loose and being a little merry? Your team deserves a little break after working hard all year!
Pulled right from the “nice” list, here are the most enjoyable office Christmas party game ideas and other fun activities.
#1: Candy Cane Relay Race
Get some healthy (and minty) competition going with a candy cane relay race! It works like this: Employees are divided into two teams. The teams grab a candy cane from a table, pass it down to the end of the line, and hook their cane to the one on their left using only one hand. At the end, it should be one continuous chain of hooked candy canes.
This game is usually played with the candy canes in your mouth, but that could be super weird with your co-workers. Keep it work-appropriate with the above version, and really get the excitement going by offering a prize at the end like gift cards, sparkly ornaments, or a box of candy canes (obviously) for the winners.
#2: Play “Guess Who” with Baby Pictures
It’s tough to think of good office Christmas party games, but here’s one everyone will love. Send out an email asking all your employees to share a picture of themselves as children. You’ll then put everything together and send a sheet out for everyone to guess who’s who. The more awkward or embarrassing, the better! Pin the pictures on the wall as a bit of decor at your office holiday party.
You spend an average of 90,000 hours working in your lifetime. That’s a ton of time to be around the same people day in and day out. It’s easy to get irked by some of their quirks. A good game of “Guess Who” is not only fun and adorable, but it also reaffirms to your team that they’re working alongside real people with a unique history.
#3: Holiday ABC Game
Work your brain muscles early with a little
“A through Z” game. Your employees will receive a printable sheet and use it to fill in a holiday word for each letter of the alphabet. They can then sit around either individually or in a group (by department is a good way to do it) and fill out their answers. The most creative list gets the top prize, while the funny list gets second place!
Dr. Cynthia R. Green, a psychologist who’s written many books on brain health, says word games like this keep us intellectually engaged, give us the chance to make new connections, and above all, encourage us to think outside of the box. Don’t all those sound like traits you want in your employees?
#4: Celebrate a Variety of Traditions at the Party
Not everyone celebrates the holidays in the same way. Some people have family traditions like wearing pajamas and slippers. Others have cultural dishes they make every year. There are some of your co-workers who might not celebrate Christmas at all. Encourage your team to share what makes their celebrations unique and try to incorporate it all into your holiday office party.
You’ll get to know a little more about your team and what they value, which is a huge deal. According to the American Psychological Association, employees who feel valued are more likely to be engaged and feel satisfied and motivated at work. The holidays are a great time to show how much you care.
#5: Dress Like an Elf, Santa, or a Reindeer
Why should the guy at the mall have all the fun? The head honcho, CEO, or maybe all the managers can dress up as St. Nick for the Christmas party. Better yet, have a full-on Santa theme and unite as an office to wear the fluffy white beard, hat, and boots. You can also simply wear cute elf or reindeer ears if that’s more your style.
These holly jolly costumes could elicit a lot of belly laughs, which definitely matters at work. Research shows that laughing at the office is good for productivity, reducing absenteeism, and an overall positive work culture. It’s not all business and no pleasure. Go ahead and wear something hilarious and ridiculous!
#6: Have an Epic “Snowball” Fight
A mock “snowball” fight is an office Christmas party game that works best if you have active, outgoing people working at your company. Since you can’t use actual snow in the building, try white balloons or large cotton balls. It will work kind of like dodgeball, with two teams on either side tossing the “snow” at each other.
Make sure the battle arena is plenty large enough and that nothing will get broken during the fight. Also, set ground rules ahead of time so it doesn’t get out of hand. You don’t want to contribute to the estimated 2.8 million workplace injuries that occur every year.
#7: Set Up a Makeshift Photo Booth
Have you seen The Office? If so, you know that every workplace has a Stanley and an Angela. Give those bah-humbugs a chance to let down their guard in a makeshift photo booth at the holiday party. You can hire a company for a relatively low cost or set out props and costumes and take pics yourself.
People are hard-wired to value images above anything else. That’s why they keep pics of their family, friends, and pets at their desks. A photo booth is a chance for your employees to let loose and form connections with their co-workers. Maybe a few of these pics will end up on display around the office, contributing to an overall positive atmosphere.
#8: Bring the Kids to the Party
At the heart of it, the holidays are really a time for the kids. Your employees are going to be thinking about their young ones during the day, whether it’s what to buy them as a gift or how they’re doing with the babysitter. Consider letting everyone bring their kids to the office Christmas party instead.
You can make it a fun day for everyone with kid-friendly games, coloring sheets, a bunch of cookies, or a visit from Santa. If you want cheap gifts to hand out, you can order stress balls for kids in a festive shape like reindeers or snowmen. It’ll be a fun time for everyone!
#9: Watch a Classic Holiday Movie
You can have a classic holiday movie like Home Alone, Elf, or It’s a Wonderful Life rolling in the background of the party. Anti-social people will love an excuse to sit around and watch while eating popcorn and candy.
The 20 most successful Christmas movies of all time earned a combined $285.7 million at the box office. These films are favorites for a reason and are sure to be enjoyed by your team!
#10: Play “Name That Tune”
“Jingle Bells,” “All I Want for Christmas is You,” “Little Drummer Boy”… nothing says festive like holiday music! Bring these seasonal favorites to your office holiday party by hosting a karaoke hour, hiring carolers, or playing the music in the background. If you are looking for an office holiday party game your employees can literally sing along to, you can also play “Name That Tune.” Hand out printable sheets and have everyone write down the name of the song as it plays.
Be careful not to go overboard with all these holiday tunes! Most people enjoy it, but a survey showed that about 47% of Americans have a “meh” or bad attitude toward Christmas music. So “Carol of the Bells’ should probably not be on repeat the entire time at the party.
#11: White Elephant or Secret Santa
White Elephants and Secret Santa are usually at the top of the list and are traditional office Christmas party games for a reason. They are a great way to encourage your employees to interact with one another. Set a budget for about $20 and avoid any issues by having a strict no alcohol, no food policy. Now go have fun and hunt for a truly awesome gift to exchange at the party!
You want it to be crystal clear that gift-giving is completely optional. Jacqueline Whitmore, author of Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals, notes that it can come across pushy or offensive to pester your employees to participate in holiday gift exchanges. Send out a sign-up sheet and leave it at that!
#12: Light Up the Party Spot
Create a cozy atmosphere by decorating the office Christmas party spot with string lights on the ceiling, around the doors, and of course, on a giant tree. Your employees will get a bright feeling as soon as they walk in!
Science shows that decorating for the holidays makes you happier. Not to mention, the lights trigger dopamine, also known as the “feel good” chemical in our brains. The mood will be nothing but positive all day, which comes in handy for party time!
#13: Set Up a Baked Goods Buffet
Lay out gingerbread cookies, cake pops, apple pie, hot chocolate, spiced raisin bread, and other sweet treats for your team to enjoy at their leisure. After all, only a real Scrooge would be disappointed by a delicious spread of goodies at a holiday party!
You can cater, get a bunch of store-bought desserts, or encourage everyone to bring something homemade. No matter what, the gesture won’t go unappreciated as 63% of people indulge in a dessert at least once a week. That number has to be even higher around the holidays!
#14: Wear Ugly Sweaters
Ugly sweaters takes the pressure off your employees to have to wear something fancy or uncomfortable to the party. It also gives them a chance to show off their creativity. And hey… no judgment if they just run to Target and grab something either. The main thing is that everyone is letting loose and enjoying themselves.
The bonus of having an ugly sweater day is all the fun social media pics you’ll get in exchange. Authenticity is a buzzword in business, with a staggering 86% of people saying it’s a huge factor when deciding which brands to like and support. What’s more real than the IT guy wearing a ridiculous reindeer onesie?
#15: Ornament Exchange
An ornament exchange is a hallmark of any office holiday party, and the good news is a simple $5 budget can go a long way. Send out a survey before the party and have your team list a few of their favorite things. The Star Wars nerd can get a Darth Vader ornament, the musician in HR can walk away with a guitar ornament, Rita in accounting can get a cat ornament since she has like 20 of them… you get the idea.
Plus, consider this – ornaments can make you feel less bogged down and more nostalgic. Steve McKeown, a psychoanalyst for The Journal of Environmental Psychology, states: “In a world full of stress and anxiety, people like to associate to things that make them happy. Christmas decorations evoke those strong feelings of childhood.” A little ornament holds a lot of power!
#16: Give Everyone a Mini Stocking
Mini stockings are an easy gift to hand out to your employees at the office holiday party. Do you have a small team? Go all out with a nice gift card to a restaurant or for Amazon. Are you working in a huge office? Keep it simple with a few pieces of candy and maybe a couple small trinkets.
Legend has it that a poor man with three daughters had their socks hung by the fire to allow them to dry. St. Nicholas came and filled these stockings with gold and then disappeared. If St. Nick could be so generous, you should do the same with your employees! They’ll love taking part in this holiday tradition and will be happy to receive something, even if it’s small.
#17: Volunteer as a Company
‘Tis the season of giving! Go back to what the holidays are all about by finding a way to volunteer as a company instead of having a traditional holiday party at the office. Homeless shelters, Feed My Starving Children, Habitat for Humanity, and many other non-profits are always looking for helping hands, especially around Christmas time.
92% of human resource executives believe volunteerism can improve an employee’s leadership skills. Not to mention, helping others improves health by strengthening the body, improving the mood, and reducing stress. Aren’t those all things you’d like for your employees, especially around the holiday season?
#18: Gingerbread Showdown
Decorating gingerbread is a must around the holidays. Want to make it more fun and take the competition to the next level? Ask your team to model the gingerbread house after your office building or the gingerbread person after the company’s owner. Give out a prize to the top gingerbread creation!
The holidays are a wonderful opportunity to work creativity into the office, but it’s something you should actively practice year round. After all, a creative workplace is key to keeping your employees engaged while they’re on the clock.
#19: Flex Hours the Day of the Party
There is a crazy amount of benefits to offering your employees a flexible schedule all the time, but this is especially true around the holidays. People have places to go, people to see, and gift shopping on their mind. They will love a little wiggle room, especially on the day of the office holiday party.
If you only have it in the budget to do one thing to celebrate, make it be this. A staggering 94% of people want to receive a gift from their employer that makes them feel valued. Save those fruitcakes and gift cards as nothing is better than extra time to spend with the family!
#20: Schedule the Party at a Nice Venue
Nobody wants to celebrate the holidays with juice in Styrofoam cups and pizza that tastes like cardboard. Hold a special celebration at a nearby brewery, banquet hall, or arcade! Take it a step further by letting your employees bring guests. It will make the whole affair a little more comfortable for everyone.
Sadly, only 36% of professionals think their company’s holiday parties are fun. You can do a ton to increase that number by going out of the office, providing awesome food, and letting your employees bring a date. Now give them space to be themselves and save your judgments. This should be a time to have fun and shed the shell you wear to work every day.
Office Christmas party games can be hard to think of on your own, but you’ve now got a ton of unique and traditional ideas to choose from! The entire team is going to love participating since there’s something here for everyone.
It’s all about putting in a little effort so that your office party is as special as the holidays are outside with family and friends.