28 Apr The 11 Best Office Holiday Rituals
“Oh no! Look who’s drunk again at the office Christmas party and totally making an ass out of himself!”
We’ve all heard this before. Or been the subject of it. On the eve of my annual holiday parties at Likeable Local and Likeable Media, I got to thinking about office holiday rituals. This time of year, people at businesses everywhere are thinking a little less about business and a little more about the holiday season. So what’s a CEO or manager to do with their team?
I asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) for their favorite office holiday rituals, and this is what they shared:
1. Hold a Toy Drive
I’m a huge supporter of Toys for Tots and every year I like to get as many people involved as possible. This year, not only will I be encouraging team members to collect toys, but we will also be rolling out a program targeting local businesses to participate. I love what this organization does, and it’s one that I will continue to increase my support and participation year after year.
2. Close Shop and Let Employees Spend Time With Their Family
I don’t think anything you could do during the holidays could make as much difference to your employees as letting them spend the time home with their families. If that’s not an option, give more time flexibility during the holidays so they can make parties and greet relatives who are coming in.
2. Give a Week of Paid Vacation
Every year at the company holiday party, we give away cash and gift cards to all kinds of things our employees like. But once they win, they can’t take home another prize, and the final giveaway of the night is a week’s worth of paid vacation. The anticipation and enthusiasm has grown so strong that we have started giving away “surprise” bonus weeks every year.
3. Have an Ugly Christmas Sweater Swap
Every year we have an Ugly Christmas Sweater Day. In the weeks leading up to it, everyone puts their name and sweater size on a paper and into a hat, we then draw names in a Secret Santa fashion. We then must decorate a sweater for the person we got and the day of our sweater exchange we all must wear them in the office. It’s fun and something we look forward to every year.
4. Host Holiday Potlucks
We get everyone to contribute to the potluck and celebrate in the office right before the holidays. We will get people to make traditional dishes for the holiday meal but, we usually have people include cultural dishes or their favorite foods they ate as a child. It brings everyone together and we always look forward to a family-style lunch.
5. Have a White Elephant Gift Exchange
Many companies might do a Secret Santa, but a white elephant gift exchange is a lot more fun and social. Everyone brings a wrapped gift under $20. People draw numbers for order of opening gifts. Each person can either open a new gift or “steal” a previously open gift. It brings the team together for lots of laughs and fun. Combine this with a holiday lunch for a great afternoon.
– Andy Kohm, CEO, Vendop
6. Give Away Turkeys (or Other Family Dinners)
We have a tradition of gifting Thanksgiving turkeys to each of our employees at Nextiva. For people who don’t eat turkey, we instead give them a vegetarian dinner option that will feed their entire family. For staffers who prefer not to receive food, we donate to a local food bank. We find that our employees really appreciate this effort.
– Yaniv Masjedi, CMO – VP, Marketing, Nextiva
7. Create Vision Boards
During the holidays, we had everyone from the company bring in old magazines, and we spent a couple of days where everyone created a vision board. They cut pictures from magazines and created vision boards based on their goals, aspirations, and dreams for the following year. It strengthened ties and created a wonderful holiday bonding experience.
8. Celebrate Together a Few Different Ways
We reward employees for their year-round hard work with a fun gift and by closing the office for the last two weeks of December. We begin the last in-office Friday of the year with a pancake breakfast and a mimosa or bloody mary (with all the fixings, of course). Our team also donates one percent of our annual net revenue to 1% for the Planet, and we give to the UCAN Chicago Toy Drive.
– Benjamin Ihnchak, Co-Founder, Fuzzy Math
9. Hold a Bad Gift Exchange
We do a gift exchange where naturally someone gets a horrible gift each year. Honestly, it is good for laughs then and a few months later. With an awesome dinner and drinks, no one minds too much and they can plot revenge for the next year with a better (awful) gift.
10. Play Customer Support Christmas Carols
At one of my office jobs prior to becoming an entrepreneur, the call center had an annual holiday contest: whoever worked the most Christmas carols into support calls over two weeks, no laughing on the call, would win a prize. The prize wasn’t as important as seeing how creative people had to be. Customers liked it, too!
11) As for what we do at Likeable Local in addition to the office holiday party? We do a Yankee swap gift exchange, Core Values Kudos awards (see pic below), and “Most Likely” awards given to the entire company by their managers. It’s a time to celebrate all of our hard work and successes from the year, and look forward to the year ahead!
What are your office holiday rituals? The good, the bad, and the wacky? Please let me know in the Comments section below.