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Quirky HR Approved Holiday Ideas

Quirky HR-Approved Holiday Party Ideas

By Braulio Giron, Jr. on November 20, 2018

While it’s that time again for holiday lights and end-of-year excitement, the way to celebrate doesn’t have to be played-out

The holidays are a time when everyone feels festive. In the office, this feeling is furthered as the company looks back on the past year’s accomplishments and tries to end it on a high note. For many companies, this means a year-end party that often doubles as a thanksgiving event and a team-bonding experience.

However, from the amount of work to end the fiscal year with there often isn’t enough time to plan or have an elaborate celebration. That, coupled with the ever prevalent budget challenges and difficulty in booking a venue because others are also having parties, often results in usual gift-exchange coupled with an office party that is like all the others held during the year.

So, how does one breathe some life into one’s office holiday and year-end celebration?  Here are some holiday party and treat ideas applicable to any sized team and/or budget.


Holiday-Themed Potluck

Simple and easy to do over lunch or at dinner after office hours, a potluck is a low-cost way to hold a meaningful gathering where team members can further their bond while letting everyone know how skilled of a cook they are (or how great they are at finding online deals from different restaurants and food providers in the city.)

To differentiate it from typical potlucks, choose to make it holiday themed, where the dishes should be those that are often popular during the season. For companies with expatriate managers and employees, a potluck gives them the opportunity to share some of their culture’s dishes with the local team members, and for the latter to do the same with them.


In-House Catered Lunch

Similar to a holiday-themed potluck, an in-house catered lunch (or dinner) can make for a relatively budget-friendly holiday celebration and is particularly suited to the time-challenged teams or businesses who are very busy working because it’s almost the end of the fiscal year (think accounting, among others).

Catered lunches and even lunch buffets are often less costly than their dinner counterparts, and unlike a potluck, will save busy employees from taking too much time to prepare.

A welcome break from the work day, an in-house catered lunch or the aforementioned potluck can feel further celebratory with a little more time, so extending the typical lunchtime by an hour or two, or even taking the entire afternoon off, is also an option.


Holiday Happy-Hour

Instead of a holiday meal, one can also take a more casual route and opt for a holiday happy hour. If budget permits, open a tab at a festive establishment differentiate the event from the more typical in-office drinks. If a little too pricey, the holidays are typically a time when some establishments offer favorable deals and packages, so be on the lookout for these and remember to make reservations early.

A holiday-happy hour is also a good alternative for those who want to avoid the expense of booking an event area at a hotel or other similar venue, and the associated preparations and catering, but still prefer having a gathering that is outside of the office and includes some socialization between some food and beverages.

A holiday happy hour can also be complementary to previously mentioned potluck or catered celebration, where those who don’t or can’t drink can opt out without feeling like they missed out on the main event.


A Company/Department Outing

While a great office party and/or night out on the town is often appreciated, an activity outside the office or popular watering-hole can be more memorable. A change in scenery, complemented by an active outing like bowling, ice skating, or a visit to an escape room, is a great way to further build camaraderie sans the stress of work tasks.

The company holiday or year-end party can be centered on the outing, which is made easier as most of the establishments featuring most of the previously suggested activities now usually offer group or corporate packages. Like with opening a tab at a local social establishment, one must keep in mind to make reservations in a timely manner to ensure an outing that suits most, if not all, employees’ work schedules and holiday plans.


Cookie Swap

Instead of the more common Secret Santa and White Elephant gift exchange, an option that is seemingly trending with some offices are ‘Cookie Swaps’. Cookies and other baked goods become increasingly common during the holidays, so there are options for those who would like to buy what they give instead of baking it.

Those who opt to give a homemade variant however, can take the opportunity to showcase their baking skills, while employees from other countries can share pastries that feature recipes and flavors akin to their respective cultures. Cookies swaps can also be an alternative way to celebrate in lieu of alcohol, particularly when employees’ families are included in the gathering.


Make Charitable Contributions

Speaking of activities outside the office, going out and making charitable contributions or doing volunteer work is another way to celebrate the holidays or cap off the year. While almost always a recommendation as an office event, helping the less fortunate is never cliche, and will always be one of the better ways to observe, what is after all, the season of giving.

Among the easier ways to go about this is instead of spending on gift exchanges, employees can make donations to a chosen charity, which the company can match. If time permits, another step can be taken further by organizing a visit or outreach event with the chosen charity, where employees can drop off their donations and/or spend their time to volunteer. Afterwards, the previously suggested activities can be done to cap-off the day.


The Bottomline

Whatever the budget, company culture, and employees personalities, there are always holiday or year-end activities that are ideal for every team, with the previous suggestions made as starting point for anyone who has yet to make a plan for this year.

Still not sure? Then poll your employees. Everyone will appreciate being asked for their input, and will likely enjoy a gathering which they had a say on. Be it one activity or a combination of several, spending quality time with others is what matters during the season.


Kalibrr is a technology company that aims to transform how candidates find jobs and how companies hire talent. Placing the candidate experience at the center of everything it does, the company continues to attract the best talents from all over, with 1.6 million jobseekers and counting. Kalibrr ultimately connects these talents to companies in search of their next generation of leaders.

The only end-to-end recruitment solutions provider in Southeast Asia, Kalibrr is headquartered in Makati, Philippines, with offices in San Francisco, California and Jakarta, Indonesia. Established in 2012, it has served over 18,000 clients, and is backed by some of the world’s most powerful start-up incubators and venture capitalists. These include Y Combinator, Omidyar Network, Patamar Capital, Wavemaker Partners, and Kickstart Ventures.

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