Inexpensive small office Christmas party ideas to avoid cliches

September 16, 2022

Fun Christmas office party ideas

For some small businesses the Christmas mood kicks in as early as mid-Summer and they already have plenty of small office Christmas party ideas. But we liked our beach cocktails so much, we didn’t have time to think past September, let alone brainstorm office Christmas activities.

Now the chiller nights have arrived, children have already eaten their Thanksgiving is basically around the corner, and that practically means it’s time for small business Christmas party ideas. Yes, we’re feeling a bit excited, but still – one holiday at a time!

However, we are aware of how long it takes to plan and organize the office Christmas activities, and how short we can sometimes be on creative office Christmas party ideas, so we’ve created this go-to guide to inspire you and make the planning less stressful, and the holiday season more joyous for everyone.

Small office Christmas party ideas: Best activities that guarantee fun

Some say Christmas time is all about being cozy at home and watching Christmas movies with your family, but the reality is that you still have to spend most of your day at work. But, every good boss has a way to keep employees happy during Christmas time by doing simple things that will show workers an appreciation for their work and dedication.

To avoid cliche awkward parties, we are listing small office Christmas party ideas and activities outside the office that guarantee a good time and will even help your team connect.

Costume party

A holiday costume party is a low-cost party concept for your small company. If your annual holiday party is in desperate need of a boost you can turn it into a costume party. To keep the party in a Christmas mood, you can encourage employees to dress up as their favorite Christmas character.

To add a little extra fun to the party urge staff to stay in character or include classic quotations from their character wherever possible. Additionally, remind the employees or colleagues to keep it secular so that everyone feels welcome.

A dance competition

A dance competition is not just a great way to get everyone involved, but it also makes for some memorable experiences to look back on fondly. You can let team members pick and choose their own music because nothing will unify a team like the right song choice.

Teams can rehearse for a day or two and have the judges pick the best routine. Even though the intent of the competition is to do it for fun, make sure to have an enticing prize for the winner. For example, a voucher to the best restaurant in town or a day off will motivate everyone to get more involved. This is one party where you can really let your hair down and have some harmless fun.

Sweet exchange

Hosting a sweet exchange is another one of the most cost-effective party concepts that can be used by small businesses. Consider holding a cookie swap as an alternative to the event if you do not have a huge budget or a large amount of space available. 

To mark the arrival of the Christmas season, nearly everyone bakes festive delicacies such as cookies, fudge, or Rice Krispies treats. It is simple to organize an event like a cookie or sweets exchange party, complete with cocoa, cider, and candy canes, and it satisfies everyone’s need to indulge their sweet appetite. The staff is welcome to provide enough supply of their specialty sweets to last throughout the occasion.

Lip syncing contest

A lip-syncing contest is a great way to get people involved and make them feel important. It’s also a great way to spread some holiday cheer. You can use any song you like for the event, but we recommend choosing something that everyone knows or loves. If you’d like to stick with a specific genre of music, such as country or hip-hop, that’s fine too.

Once your guests have arrived at your office Christmas party venue, give them the instructions on how they should prepare themselves for the lip-syncing contest. Bring along a microphone and headphones, join in with other attendees by singing along with the song on their phones and make it clear which song everyone has chosen to sing by displaying signs on each participant’s desk.

Office Culture Show

Every office has its own culture, which should also be spread during the holidays. So when Christmas is coming, some cute objects are needed to show that atmosphere before parties. Custom lapel pins are always good choices. The attractive point is that the custom pins can be designed with company logos, Christmas symbols, and other elements you want. When the employees arrive at the party, the pins can be delivered and then they can wear them easily on clothes. No doubt that the pins will connect the team better and everybody will enjoy the parties heartily.

Sip the Nips

It sounds weird but it actually is really fun. Separate the group into two groups and each person in the group will be using a straw to sip or get 5 Nips of the same which is in the plate and put them in the cup. This is a challenge with speed until the entire person was able to sip the nip. The first group to finish wins. It’s a really fun game that can be played in big or small groups.

Online Bingo

Because not everybody can attend the in-person Christmas party of our company, we have thought of several interactive online games such as Bingo.

The set of rules are the same as the traditional ones, the only difference is that the numbers are generated virtually. It makes any party a whole lot of fun and is definitely low-cost. Moreover, the cards can be personalized to the event and the whole game can be organized to fit in any part of the program.

Secret Santa

One of the small office Christmas party ideas that always works great is a Secret Santa gift exchange with a specific budget for gifts. Keep it under $20 or $15 for each gift, so it will be pretty reasonable since each employee would only have to get one gift. Everyone loves secret Santa’s and they can be a great way to boost morale, especially if you do funny gifts!

Cozy Christmas cinema at the office

Many new movies are released in the holiday season, hence screening a Christmas movie at the office is one of the small business holiday party ideas that will put you in a good holiday mood. You can watch a newly released film or an old classic like Home Alone. Everyone will enjoy it and you don’t even have to spend a lot of money.

Karaoke party

To get the Christmas party started, you can get a karaoke microphone for just under $25. Play festive songs that would put the employees into the holiday mood. Everyone could unwind and have fun while you could stay under the budget. Make sure to take pictures and videos as memorabilia. Investing in a good karaoke microphone could go a long way and it’s the perfect holiday activity in the office.

Escape the ordinary

Book an escape room for your team. The escape room enables them all to get involved whether they celebrate Christmas or not and it’s also great for team bonding. Moreover, if you are a smaller team, it allows everyone to contribute their different skill sets and feel special.

In fact, not many people enjoy a traditional office Christmas party and they feel awkward. Whereas with the Escape Room, you’d be doing a task and working together in a fun environment which means you get rid of any of that awkwardness.

So, we would say Christmas parties for small companies should include doing things outside the norm. That’s when you see the magic happen as it helps the team grow and bond together.

Bonus tips to spice up every kind of office Christmas party ideas on a budget

It’s the small things that make everything special. Therefore, since you already found the best activities and small office Christmas party ideas, it’s time to think about details as well. Luckily there are a lot of heartwarming, unique ways to create holiday magic without emptying your pockets. 

Don’t just stick to one-day parties when there are a lot of inexpensive ways to have a magical time during the whole of December. Instead, take a look at our creative office Christmas party ideas and find out how you can make your in-office and remote workers happy.

Christmas cards

Christmas is the perfect time to say thank you to your employees for being the backbone of the company and helping you build your dream by adopting it as their own. We know you’re not Oprah to give everyone a car but a word of appreciation can go a long way and make them feel really special and motivated.

And for that, cards are the perfect medium. No, we’re not speaking about virtual Christmas cards that can end up in Spam. Please, stay away from that.

Take the time to reflect and write everyone a personalized message that’s a mixture of “Thank you” and “Merry Christmas”. Handwritten messages are much more valuable, but if you think it’s too time-consuming you can always print them.

As for the design of the Christmas cards, you can leave it to the professionals or make it yourself if you feel like it. Or you can drive to the nearest stationery shop, we bet they’ll be having a million designs, both traditional or contemporary, to choose from.

You can call them old-fashioned but cards are an essential part of all office Christmas activities.

Let the booze ooze!

Next on our list of small office Christmas party ideas is something more cheery. Okay, we probably should have started this paragraph by saying DRINK RESPONSIBLY! First of all because we’re not fans of hangovers, and also because we don’t want you to be the main character of a story that starts something like this: “Remember last Christmas when the boss failed at doing a headstand and we all saw her underwear?” 

Moderation is the key to fun parties and, as it turns out, to groundbreaking ideas that can revolutionize your business as well. Studies show when reaching an alcohol level of 0,75‰, the average person comes up with the most creative solutions. This means there’s a good chance the most fruitful brainstorming session you’ve ever had will happen at the Christmas party when everyone’s tipsy.

Skip the champagne or cooked wine cliché and explore new tastes. These 100% natural liqueurs and spirits made in a handcrafted distillery in the Alps will certainly get you extra points with your employees. Do it in style or not at all!

Holiday potluck

A potluck is always a fun and inexpensive way to host a party. It is also a great Christmas activity for a small office. Everyone gets to bring a holiday dish for the entire office to have a feast. This ensures participation from all office members and everyone will have a good time.

Assign teams to provide appetizers, main courses, drinks, and deserts. While this might be additional work for your employees, food brings people together. 

You can also ask your employees to bring in food/supplies for the party. Create a signup list and encourage your employees to sign up to bring one of the items listed. This will help you stay under budget and focus more money on items or activities that you don’t want your employees to feel pressured into contributing toward.

Healthy doesn’t mean boring

When it comes to office Christmas party food ideas we like to do it a little bit differently. Like we’ve said before, it’s imperative to stay in good health, physically and mentally.

Cold weather indeed takes its toll, but let’s not forget about the effect overeating has. All those dinner parties and pre-Christmas lunches packed with sugary, fatty foods can bring one’s metabolism to crack. 

To balance that out, and give yourself and your employees a break, you should consider hiring a food catering service for the Christmas party, one that offers super tasty yet healthy finger food that doesn’t overrun the stomach.

Extra tip: you can make these snacks available for your staff throughout December.

Transform ordinary locations into a party place

There are numerous alternatives to hotel ballrooms and convention facilities. For example, depending on your company’s culture you can consider museums and cinemas bowling alleys, arcades, and skating rinks, whether indoors or outdoors. 

Think outside the box. You can even book an Airbnb or transform your conference room or a spacious entryway into a party hub. If you lack the space to accommodate everyone at once, you could want to explore a progressive party where different departments present a course. 

If you share a building with other companies, invite them to work alongside you. Everyone will save money on decorations and activities. There may also be economies of scale in the catering industry.

Don’t forget remote workers

We live in the age of remote teams, hence office culture and tradition must be hugely adapted. You don’t want your remote workers to feel excluded. 

Some companies have a tradition of hosting virtual parties; wearing ugly sweaters, Christmas props, doing karaoke, sharing holiday-related anecdotes, playing games, etc. 

But if this is not your thing, then maybe you should consider creating a Slack channel where starting from December 1st everyone can get into the Christmas spirit by sharing holiday videos, gifs, emojis, pics, and so forth. 

You can go even further and send them gift packs that you can all open together on a video call. Who doesn’t like gifts anyway? If you don’t trust mailing services, you can always go for virtual gifts.

Or better yet, why not organize a Secret Santa? Here’s an elf that can help you withdraw the names.

The bottom line – use your imagination! Even a small gesture would mean a lot and strengthen team relationships. Your remote team must not be forgotten during the office Christmas activities.

Celebrate company time

Some employees may not be enthusiastic about the mandatory holiday party following work hours, while others, such as parents of young children, may find it difficult to attend later in the evening. Hence, to recognize your loyal employees, a holiday office party during working hours may be the ideal solution for mid-sized and smaller businesses, as it allows employees to get into the holiday spirit. 

Some offices choose to host these events on Friday afternoons, with a catered lunch followed by a half-day, which is a win-win situation. It is a low-cost way to celebrate, and the workday is not completely lost.

Conclusion

In the end, the key is to go for a fun Christmas party that’s not so extravagant and can still be enjoyed by everyone. There’s no need to spend on a lavish Christmas party that everyone will just forget about afterward. Instead, you can use the above great small office Christmas party ideas and even make your own inexpensive Christmas gifts. It’s up to you how you do it, but in any case, have fun at your small business Christmas party!

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