7 tips to throwing an unforgettable holiday party for your co-workers

With more companies offering a work-from-home option on top of businesses that already have multiple shifts and/or locations, the holiday office party is one of the few opportunities you may have during the year to see everyone who you work with in one place, at one time, so you’ll want to be as welcoming and inclusive with it as you can.

If you are the one in charge of organizing said party, you may be feeling the pressure to make it something special that will have your co-workers singing your praises into the New Year while also impressing the boss. Well, have no fear! We have been tinkering in the workshop and scouring the internet for tips, tricks and ideas to get you started. So, take a deep breath and save all that stress for Black Friday shopping and dinner with the in-laws.


Making sure your holiday party is an epic affair requires lots of planning. Don’t think that you can start throwing a party together a week ahead of time and have everything you want. We all know when the holiday season is far in advance so start making plans at least a few months ahead of time.

“Ideally, you’ll begin thinking of ideas in the summer,” says virtual event platform Yaymaker. “That way, you can start making moves in the fall. Remember: The more time you allow, the less stressful your event planning will be, and the more likely you will secure all the details you want.”

The best way to start your planning, according to Yaymaker, is to pick your date and make a checklist.

“Creating a holiday party itinerary is always wise. With so many things to take into consideration, you want to ensure that nothing is missed,” they write.


You’ll need to get a good headcount of who you’re inviting. This will help you decide on other aspects of the party.

“Knowing how many people will be in attendance enables you to move forward with selecting a venue and planning your menu,” the custom merchandise company Merchology states.

There is a lot to figure out when building the guest list. Is it just those who work in the company or do you want to extend it to those who do business with your company? That could include vendors, clients or notable members of the community. Obviously the guest list will include your co-workers and their partners.

Are kids coming or is this an adults only party? If you want to expand the guest list to more than co-workers, send those invites as early as you can. The holidays are busy and calendars fill up fast.

“[Invitations] should be done at least a couple of months in advance of the party,” Merchology recommends. “Think of them as less formal wedding invitations.”


It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant but having a theme for your party helps you to separate yourself from all the other parties happening during this time of year.

“You already have an overlaying theme to work with: a holiday party,” states The Madison Events Center. “Now all you have to do is decide if you want to focus on more of a winter wonderland theme … or something else.”

You can go for typical — ugly sweater party — or over the top — come dressed as your favorite holiday mascot — to posh and fancy — tuxes and ball gowns, anyone?

“You have several options to choose from so think about what best suits your company’s beliefs and values,” Madison Events advises.


No matter what else you do for your party, the food is going to be the main event. You’ll most likely want to have the event catered, says Merchology. Potlucks are fun for a little get-together or parties with a small guest list, but you’ll want everyone to be able to enjoy themselves after a long year, and you can’t do that if everyone is worrying about what to bring and is there enough.

Also decide on the type of food presentation. Is it buffet style, a sit-down dinner or just hors d’oeuvres?

“Whatever culinary format you pick for your party be sure to have alternative options for vegetarians and people with common food allergies like nuts, soy, gluten and shellfish,” Merchology says.

Don’t forget to plan for the bar. Is this a dry party or will alcohol be served? If you will have the option of alcohol, make sure your guests pace themselves. This is still a work function after all. Also, for ease and convenience, find a caterer that will handle both the food station and the bar.


“The right entertainment is essential for any type of event,” says Madison Events. “Imagine a room filled with people celebrating the holidays with no form of entertainment at all. A situation like this could make the night drag on.”

This can be something as simple as asking Google or Alexa to play some holiday tunes to having live entertainment. Particularly within the LGBTQ community, you are sure to be able to find a few talented singers, a local band or a winter-themed drag queen to spice up the party.

If you really want to get your guests engaged, try something a little less common and a little more hands on like hiring a caricaturist, a tarot card reader or a close-up magician to perform throughout the party. If you are looking for more people-free entertainment, try renting a photo booth or a karaoke machine.


Yes, Christmas is the most celebrated holiday of the winter season in the U.S. (a recent poll shows 77% of U.S. residence celebrate Christmas, second only to Thanksgiving at 81%) but there are a ton of other winter holidays including Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, the Winter Solstice and more.

While you may get accused by the party Karen of giving into “wokeness,” it is best to focus on it being a “Happy Holidays” party rather than a “Merry Christmas” party. If you work at a place with a small staff and you know for a fact that they all celebrate the same winter holiday, then there is no issue in focusing on that one. But if you have variety in your staff then have some variety in your holiday decorations, music and greetings.
Also keep in mind, going back to the food, that some guests may have certain dietary restrictions based on their religious views so it is important to find out the winter celebratory practices of as many of your guests as you can.


It is the holidays after all so make sure to provide a personalized gift for the employees of the company, and it doesn’t have to be anything expensive. Even just a hand-written thank you card with a small holiday bonus for a job well done for the year will do. But feel free to go big and showy as well.

Keep in mind that if you are having more than just the employees come to the party, try and do the gift giving before the rest of the guests arrive or away from the additional partiers if you are only providing presents to employees.

This feature was originally published in Watermark’s 2022 Holiday Guide. Read it online here for an LGBTQ-inclusive look at the holiday season in Central Florida and Tampa Bay.

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