We’re coming up on the sweetest day of the year, Valentine’s Day. You might be planning a night out with someone special, a dinner party for your best friends, or heart-shaped candy for your family members — but how do you celebrate Valentine’s Day at work?
Valentine’s Day falls on a workday most years, meaning that instead of spending the day with your eyes turning into heart emojis, you’re likely cruising through spreadsheets, working out problems in group brainstorming sessions, or presenting your sales projections to your boss.
But you don’t have to miss out on all the joy and candy. As an HR professional or team lead, one of the most fun parts of the job is planning work parties for holidays and birthdays (by the way, here’s our round-up of office party ideas for every occasion). And yes, you can plan a memorable Valentine’s Day celebration at the office — with a few general guidelines for keeping the fun work-appropriate, inclusive, and enjoyable for everyone.
In this article:
- How to Celebrate Valentine’s Day at Work (and How Not To!)
- 17+ Party Ideas to Celebrate Valentine’s Day at Work
6 Do’s and Don’ts for Celebrating Valentine’s Day at Work
Do host a party focused on friendship.
Office parties are a great way to break up a long work week, and who doesn’t like cupcakes and cheese plates? Definitely plan on a fun luncheon for the team — which includes everyone — based around celebrating friendship. This isn’t the place for flirting or talking about personal lives; it’s a celebration of office camaraderie. Keep decorations limited to BF4EVA balloons and minimize the lovey-dovey, romantic language.
Don’t encourage inter-office valentines.
Whatever you do, don’t set up an inter-office valentine’s delivery. This isn’t high school! There is no appropriate work venue — romantic holidays included — for someone to reveal their crush or flirt with a coworker. Instead, send a company-wide email telling your team how thankful you are for their friendship and collaboration.
Do encourage service with scheduled community time.
A holiday is a great excuse to do some good and to get your team outside the office and into the community. As a group, volunteer at a local shelter or pack and distribute lunches at a soup kitchen. Nothing celebrates affection like love for your community, and you can instill in your workplace a culture of giving back. Just make sure that this time is accounted for during paid working hours and not something your team members have to work into their personal, out-of-work time.
Don’t get flowers for just the women on staff.
This might sound ludicrous, but it absolutely happens: A (usually male) boss will go out of his way to buy bouquets of flowers for the women of the office. While most people do like getting flowers, the romantic gesture at work — and from a higher up, no less — is uncomfortable and inappropriate. If a manager insists on getting flowers, then everyone at work gets a bouquet instead of those singled out by gender.
Do make an employee appreciation board.
If you have a bulletin board in the break room, Valentine’s Day is a great time to put up notes of appreciation for each staff member — and you can even lean into the heart-shaped sticky notes! Feel free to encourage colleagues to add their own notes, but make sure you seed the board with a note about each staff member to start, so that no one ends up left off the board. The last thing you need on Valentine’s Day is a staffer feeling excluded or unappreciated.
Don’t use the holiday as an excuse to relax boundaries.
Valentine’s Day is a celebration of romantic love, but that doesn’t mean you can start treating work like a bar or a party. Remind colleagues of appropriate Valentine’s Day behavior in an email sent the week earlier with a few key guidelines: Resist the urge to pry into coworkers’ personal lives (even if they receive flowers or gifts delivered to the office) and remember that you are at work. You can even go so far as to include your office’s sexual harassment policy in the email. It might seem like a buzzkill, but a team member feeling uncomfortable or disrespected is much, much worse than a stodgy email.
17+ Party Ideas to Celebrate Valentine’s Day at Work
Now that we’ve gotten the rules around how to celebrate Valentine’s Day at the office out of the way, let’s get to the fun stuff: celebration and party ideas. Here are just a few of our favorite suggestions, including ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day at work virtually.
- Decorate cookies in the break room. Buy a few dozen heart-shaped cookies from a local bakery or grocery store, and bring in icing and sprinkles. Let people go wild.
- Send virtual valentine’s day cards to the whole team. You can use a service like Paperless Post for this.
- Throw a Valentine’s Day brunch. Heart-shaped donuts are a must.
- Let your team leave half an hour (or an hour!) early to spend Valentine’s Day with someone they love.
- Decorate the office in pink and red. Make it a surprise!
- Plan a Valentine’s Day trivia game. Do you know why it’s named after St. Valentine? How about a “Name that famous couple” trivia round?
- Leave a Valentine’s Day treat at each person’s desk.
- Bring in a Valentine’s Day cake.
- Play old-school love songs in the break room for the day. There are tons of playlists on Spotify. We recommend plenty of Sam Cooke.
- Plan a Valentine’s Day-themed “self-care is self-love” office yoga session or meditation session. If your company doesn’t already offer wellness perks like office yoga, here’s why you should!
- Plan a “decorate your valentine’s box” party. Just like in elementary school. Then, invite employees to write one thing they like about each coworker on slips of paper (anonymously is fine!) and drop them in each other’s boxes.
- Plan a “guess how many sweethearts” game. Fill a giant jar with heart-shaped candy and invite people to guess the total. The winner gets tickets for two to a movie (perfect for their Valentine’s Day or Galentine’s Day date night after work!).
- Leave a carnation on everyone’s desk. And remember, that means everyone!
- Have a “best Valentine’s Day costume” competition. Costume competitions don’t have to be for Halloween only! You can break this into team-themed costumes, too. This works well for remote workers, too!
- Plan a chocolate-dipped strawberries activity. All it takes is melting chocolate in the breakroom microwave, plus a couple of cookie sheets to pop the strawberries into the fridge. Here’s a quick recipe.
- Valentine’s Day office happy hour. This is always an option, no matter the holiday, but for celebrating valentine’s day at work, we recommend picking up some grapefruit juice and prosecco to make pink mimosas.
- Valentine’s Day Scavenger Hunt. Who doesn’t love a heart-themed hunt around the office?
- Need more work party ideas? We’ve got 50+ other ideas for year-round office party themes that you can use for Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day and beyond.
Valentine’s Day at work doesn’t have to be boring or tacky, especially when HR pros really focus their efforts on celebrating camaraderie, friendship, and teamwork. Take it as an excuse to let your employees know how much you appreciate their hard work, and how happy you are to be on the same team. Workplace collegiality is absolutely worth fostering, acknowledging, and celebrating.