You’re here for a reason: office party ideas. Whether you’re working at an ad agency, tech start-up, or big corporation, inevitably, it’s no easy feat to bring an entire company together. And while we all loved watching Mad Men, the goal is to make these gatherings a fun time without everyone calling out on Monday. With that in mind, here are some work party ideas for every style of company.
By the way: If you’re here because you’re in charge of HR at your company, and you’re located in California, Star Staffing would love to help you source talent! Read more about how we help California employers with recruiting and hiring.
Included in this article:
- Small Office and Low Budget Office Party Ideas (General)
- Holiday Party Ideas for Every Company
- For Remote Teams
- Corporate Christmas Party Ideas
- Valentine’s Day Party Ideas
- Summer Work Party Ideas
- Halloween Work Party Ideas
Low Budget Office Party Ideas (General)
Just because you don’t have much of a budget (or any) doesn’t mean that you can’t create a delightful work party. Here are some suggestions:
Work Parties for Under $200
- Cake for Breakfast Party: Throw a cake and coffee party for all your coworkers. You can either make coffee in the break room, or if budget allows, pick up a special coffee carafe from a local cafe. Find a local bakery that makes creative cakes — perhaps they. can make you a cake that looks like a stack of pancakes? Or write a clever, funny phrase like “Have your cake and eat it, too” on a simple sheet cake. Your team will get a kick out of it.
- Bingo Party: Put that $200 into a bunch of prizes and set of bingo cards. Split it in half, putting $100 into random prizes from places like the dollar story, plus one grand prize: a $100 visa gift card.
- Have people compete for company shares or an extra vacation day: If you’re running HR for a tech startup, you have direct access to leadership. Why not ask them if you can gift your team an extra vacation day or even 50 shares of stock? Depending on how flexible they are with this idea, you could hold a trivia party where the winning team all gets an extra day off.
- Office Scavenger Hunt: Put the money you have into prizes for a scavenger hunt. All that’s required is a creative mind, some paper, and hiding some common items around the office. It will take your team back to some fond childhood memories.
Low-Budget Office Party Ideas for Under $100 (and some for $0!)
- One word: potluck. Sometimes, it’s just about bringing people together and giving an extra hour off.
- Coffee and donuts. A classic for a reason. Just make sure that everyone understands that they’re welcome to pause from work for an hour to connect with other coworkers.
- Early Friday: Less of a party, but fun nonetheless: Schedule a dessert celebration at 2 or 3pm on a Friday, then surprise people by telling them they have the rest of the day off. We’re all burnt out by then anyway!
- White elephant party: While this tends to surface at work parties around the holidays, it’s a year-round favorite! Either make it optional for people to join this party (if you have no budget) or tell everyone that you’ll reimburse them up to $5 for white elephant gifts.
- Bring your dog to work party: A completely free way to meet all the dogs you’ve been sharing in Slack channels. Just make sure everyone’s up to date on shots, and you either allow time for folks to take their dogs home or accept that dogs will be in the office all day!
- Lunch in the park: Find a park within walking distance of your office, and invite everyone to come to have a picnic during lunch. Sometimes, just reminding people to get outdoors is a cause for celebration.
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Holiday Party Ideas for Every Size of Company
There’s an art to office holiday parties, which is why we often recommend coming up with a few ideas, then sending around a survey to see what people are most excited about. Here are just a few to consider.
- A Taste of Childhood Holiday Potluck: We all come from so many backgrounds. Invite people to bring a dish that reminds them of their fondest holiday — whatever that means to them! You’ll wind up with dishes from around the world, Hannukah latkes, Christmas marzipan, and who knows what else. It’s the perfect way to encourage employees to get to know each other on a deeper level.
- Holiday Happy Hour: A forever favorite for good reason. We love booking a table or space outside of the organization, just so you aren’t responsible for the clean-up! It’s also a great way to support a local business. This is especially good for small companies because you can simply book a big table at a nearby bar and put drinks on a company card “from 5-6.” Anyone who wants to stay longer can be responsible for their future drinks.
- Ring in 2023 Party: You can often get a better deal on renting out private spaces after the busy holiday season, which is why many food and beverage industry companies schedule their holiday party in January or February. But any industry can do this — just make sure you announce your plans in December, so nobody wonders if you’re skipping the office holiday party this year.
- Holiday Brunch Party: Not all parties need to be at night. Why not schedule a holiday brunch? There’s something so…debaucherous about having brunch on a weekday.
- Chinese food and bowling or bowling and pizza: Another from our list of great low-budget office parties (general), this is also a great company holiday party idea. Rent out a few lanes at a local bowling alley and have takeout delivered to the alley! Just make sure to check first that they allow for outside food.
- Ice skating: What could be more holiday vibes than all meeting at an ice skating rink? This is a great alternative to boozy work holiday parties, as well, if that’s not your vibe.
- Build your own spritz party: If your company is OK with alcohol, this might be a fun one for you. Spritzes are all the rage and easy to mix and match. They’re also considered both an afternoon and a brunch beverage. Buy some prosecco, Aperol, etc. and set up a “build your own” station. Make sure to include some non-alcoholic versions as well!
- Wine and cheese party: A classic for a reason, but also budget-friendly. You can purchase all the fixings for a beautiful wine and cheese spread at Trader Joe’s, Costco, or another grocery store, and set them up beautifully on your own. Think: cheese, prosciutto, grapes, mustard, crackers, toasted bread, pickles… Need visual inspiration? Here’s a guide to building a perfect charcuterie board from Food Network.
- Cookie swap potluck. Invite folks to bring a favorite holiday cookie and provide all the beverages — boozy or non-boozy, your call.
- Holiday day of service: Announce that in lieu of a holiday party, you’re organizing a day at a local food bank, animal shelter, or other non-denominational charity. Anyone on the team is welcome to come. For those who can’t or aren’t interested, let them know that you’ll donate a certain $ amount to a charity of their choosing. It’s a good way to build rapport and do good for your community!
Work Holiday Parties for Remote Teams
- Throw a classic holiday party on Zoom — with food and drinks – You can’t all be together, but that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate. Reimburse people for up to $30 that they can spend on cocktails, artisanal hot chocolate, and holiday snacks. Then invite them to join the party on Zoom.
- Online trivia or bingo: Yes, you can host an online work party for the holidays with games. Zoom’s breakout rooms are perfect for this.
- Team holiday costume contest: “Holiday black tie,” the family from A Christmas Story, fake “holiday” La Croix flavors, “the crazy visiting in-laws,” you name it. There are plenty of creative ways to get your company dressed up for the holidays even if you’re working from home. Give a prize to the department that comes up with the best team (you all can vote!).
- Online holiday cooking class: There are services for this, if your company has a budget for a remote holiday office party. Otherwise, chances are you have a passionate baker on staff. Ask them to host a (very simple) baking class, then send people ingredients by mail or send them a grocery list and reimburse them. Bonus points if everyone gets a recipe for a festive cocktail to sip while baking, too.
A note on corporate Christmas parties…
In general, we recommend keeping corporate parties non-denominational. Go for a winter solstice or New Year’s theme instead. And try decorating with silver, gold and other festive metallics — or evergreen bouquets — rather than Christmas-themed decor!
Valentine’s Day Office Party Ideas
Come Feb. 14, the holidays are long over, and the weather outside is still cold and gray — why not cheer everyone at the office up with a Valentine’s Day-themed party? Here are some creative ideas to try.
- “Couples” Costume Party: Encourage everyone to pair off and come up with a famous couple in history, then come dressed up to the office party. You can make it a guessing game or a competition. And make it clear that people can get very creative about what “couple” means: Bonnie and Clyde, Romeo + Juliet, Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde, Peanut Butter & Jelly….you get the idea.
- Self-Care Celebration: February is also a nice month to celebrate giving yourself a little extra love. Hire a massage therapist to come by for the day, put together grab bags of bath salts and other self-care goods, or schedule a yoga class in-office.
- Valentine-making party: Go back to elementary school, by inviting people to decorate their own valentine boxes, then leave friendly coworker valentines in everyone’s box. If that’s too much of a lift, have people randomly pull a coworker’s name out of a hat and write them a note of support.
- Star-crossed lovers trivia: Create a trivia game in which you read quotes about famous celebrity couples who were doomed from the start and have teams guess who they are. Or mention the name of a celebrity and see who can come up with the name of their former or current partner first.
- Sonnet writing competition or mad libs: Have a workshop on Shakespearean sonnets, then task your team with writing their own. Make it silly. Or print out a bunch of Shakespeare’s sonnets with empty spaces for verbs and nouns and adjectives — a la old-school Mad Libs!
- Valentine’s cookie decorating: Buy simple heart-shaped cookies from the grocery store, then bring in decorating icing, so people can write special sayings to themselves inspired by Smarties heart candies.
Summer Work Party Ideas
At last, we’ve reached the dog days of summer. Before you lean into summer Fridays, why not host a celebratory event? Here are a few ideas for office parties this summer.
- Company picnic or BBQ: It’s beautiful out! Get your team outside! Encourage them to invite their families, too.
- Garden/plant swap: Invite everyone to bring in some seeds, potted plants, or a clipping from their garden. You might even book a little workshop or lesson from a local nursery to help people nurture their green thumbs.
- Decorate your own potted plant workshop: Buy simple inexpensive succulents or plants from your local nursery or Trader Joe’s, then some paint supplies for painting terracotta pots. Have people pick their favorite plant and decorate their own pot!
- Bocce party: An easy game anyone can learn. You can also play it almost anywhere flat.
- Kickball: There are adult amateur leagues everywhere for a reason! Find a park with a kickball field and get moving.
- “Life’s a Beach” day: If you have a beach near you, have the office meet you there. If not (which is probably more likely), throw a fake beach day in your office parking lot or even indoors. Make silly summery drinks and put up umbrellas. Go wild.
- Spritz Party: We mentioned this under our favorite holiday office parties, too, but it’s an equally summery idea. Everyone loves a happy hour, and we haven’t met a person who hasn’t fallen in love with an Aperol spritz! Don’t forget a non-alcoholic version.
- Italian Apertivo Party: Did you get a kick out of White Lotus Season 2, too? We sure did. Why not throw an Italian-summer-themed office party? Spritzes (see above) welcome, plus bruschetta, a cheese board, or even some cute flat breads welcome.
- Summer Camp Day: Bring back all the memories with a day of summer camp activities. Serve peanut butter sandwiches, play charades, make s’mores…
Halloween Office Party Ideas
We love a costume party as much as the next person, but what else can you do to get creative about your Halloween work party? Here are a few alternative ideas.
- Addams Family competition: Have everyone come dressed up as a member of the Addams family, then play Addams family trivia.
- Candied Apple Making: You bring the supplies, then let people make their own.
- Halloween pinata: Kids aren’t the only ones who deserve some Halloween candy. Set up a pinata in the parking lot for people to take turns swinging during their lunch break.
- Icky eating competition: Nothing harmful! Bring in foods that are totally edible but weird textures (flavored marshmallows, tapioca balls, Greek yogurt), then blind fold volunteers and have them guess what they’re eating.
- Goth party: Throw a Halloween work party in which everything service is black. (Squid ink pasta optional but approved.)
- Dog Costume Party: This is great if you have remote workers — have people submit photos of their dogs or bring them into the office dressed for Halloween. Vote on your favorites!
- Trick or treating session: If you’re a big corporate office, consider opening your doors to trick-or-treating kids from the neighborhood, and give employees candy to hand out from their desks. Reach out to your local Boys and Girls club or elementary school to see if they are open to such a program. Or schedule a day for your team to bring their kids to work to to trick or treat!
By the way, if you’re looking for creative workplace Halloween costumes, we’ve got you covered right here.