Company Christmas - Updated ideas to get your employees into the holiday spirit

Many people are already squirming at the thought that they will soon have to be singing Christmas carols with their workmates. Due to the dispersed nature of some companies' workforces, organizing a holiday gathering for everyone can be a major challenge. The recent string of lockdowns has, thankfully, sparked a lot of innovation on the part of managers, and as a result, we now have a few updated ideas for company celebrations.

On the one hand, Christmas is deeply rooted in tradition, but on the other, it is dynamic and ever-evolving. Just two hundred years ago, you wouldn’t have found a Christmas tree in any home, and a hundred years ago, we celebrated Christmas without a sack full of presents from Santa Claus. Over the past few decades, Christmas has expanded its traditional boundaries, entering businesses, schools, and even the streets. Supermarkets start playing nonstop carols and Christmas hits in early November, and by mid-December, office parties reminiscent of Christmas Eve are being held.

In smaller businesses, where coworkers are familiar faces, a Christmas party is an organic and spontaneous event that often doesn’t even require any renting—all you need is a dedicated office room. It’s a different case when even a spacious open space can't accommodate all the employees at once. With employees in different cities, branches, stores, showrooms, warehouses, on the road behind the wheel, or working from home, it can be quite the challenge for large companies to gather their entire staff in one place for a holiday celebration. Even after finding the perfect place for the party, most people won’t be comfortable being around coworkers they don’t know. In such a case, it’s tough to get into a festive spirit, and there's a good chance that the event will devolve into another boring company meeting (only with better food). 

Does this mean that large companies shouldn’t celebrate Christmas at all? Of course not! There are many more subtle ways to get employees in the holiday mood besides the company Christmas party. 

First of all, it may be best for most large companies to let go of the concept of throwing One Big Company Christmas Party for all of their employees. Instead, it may be better to encourage individual teams in the company to organize their own Christmas celebrations by allocating managers an adequate budget for catering, a night out at a restaurant, or other team-building activities.

Second of all, you can choose to get rid of company Christmas parties entirely. What else can you do to make the holidays special for your employees?

1. Winter decorations

Making sure your workplace has a new look for the month of December is a great place to start. Rather than focusing on the front of the store, which is for customers, decorate the back offices and any digital areas where employees spend most of their time.

2. Christmas dress-up contest  

The employees themselves can participate in making the workplace more festive by dressing up. Naturally, not everyone will be thrilled when they are instructed by the company to wear reindeer antlers or a Santa hat, so we don't suggest it. Instead it should be optional, but reinforced with a contest. The ideal platform for a dress-up contest would be an internal communication platform - just make sure it has an option for users to add photos and vote on them through likes or comments.

Every year, our partner MAM-Hungária, a manufacturer of baby accessories, holds a contest in which employees' children submit artwork with a Christmas theme. The contest is presented as an opportunity for the kids to send their drawings directly to Santa Claus himself via the Blue Colibri App.

With Blue Colibri app, employees’ children can send drawings to Santa Claus

3. Virtual Christmas party

As was previously mentioned, throwing a massive Christmas party for the entire staff is unnecessary, and it may be better to let teams plan their own smaller activities instead. However, if you're interested in organizing a larger event for your staff to get to know each other better, you can always throw a virtual Christmas party for your employees in December.

A meeting of this type should not last longer than two hours to avoid the zoom fatigue phenomenon, which has been widely described and refers to physical fatigue from long online conferences. Wishes for the entire staff from the highest-ranking company official available should be a mandatory agenda item, but the event should also include more casual topics too. If you held a Christmas dress-up contest (see point above), this will be the perfect time to announce the results and award the winners.  Nothing prevents you from doing a live contest as well! 

If logistics is your forte, you might be tempted to deliver gifts and lunch packages to the doors of all branches or departments, and ask meeting participants to save their opening of the packages until the virtual celebration. 

4. Quizzes & prize games 

The quiz could be about anything; the company, the industry, or even the year's best streaming show. It can be incorporated into the aforementioned online Christmas celebration, but it also functions well on its own. You can create multiple Christmas quizzes too, say, once a week or every day in the week leading up to the holiday.

For these games, all you need is any ordinary social media app or an internal communication platform - like Blue Colibri - which has all the necessary functions.  

The increased flexibility of the platform makes it possible to do more with contest prizes. It's also possible to collect points, which the lucky few can use to spend at the company Christmas webshop within the same platform. Each day leading up to Christmas, employees at the aforementioned MAM-Hungária company receive an email with a new puzzle to solve as part of a virtual Advent calendar.

Virtual advent calendar made with the Blue Colibri App

5. Employee satisfaction survey

The days leading up to Christmas and the first few days of the new year are ideal for reflecting on the past year and making plans for the next. This is the best time to do so as an employer as well, and encourage employees to share (either anonymously or not) their thoughts on work in the past few months and suggestions for improvement. In order not to spoil the festive atmosphere, the survey shouldn’t  touch on controversial topics. Ideally, it should be inspiring and motivating people, and prove to them that they have a real impact on the company.

The latter will resonate best if, even before Christmas, all employees can learn the results of the survey - perhaps during the previously mentioned virtual party. 

6. Vote for Employee of the Year

This voting doesn’t need to (and shouldn’t) reward job performance, since measuring it is already handled by managers on a daily basis. Voting at Christmas time should be less formal; have everyone in the office vote for the person they think is the most cheerful, the most punctual, or the best dressed. It's a wonderful chance to meet new people outside of your team as well. 

One of our partners, Trenkwalder, a staffing agency, regularly uses the tools available on the Blue Colibri App to nominate and vote for employees in polls, not just on holidays. 

Internal voting system

7. Charity fundraising

With efficient internal communication channels, you can effectively engage employees to participate in a fundraiser for a charitable cause that means a lot to them. Nowadays there are plenty of crowdfunding sites that make this process very easy, and the very nature of this challenge resonates with both the spirit of the holidays and teambuilding. It's a good idea to regularly remind people about the fundraiser itself in company platforms - this is what Waberer's does every year with the help of Blue Colibri, among others.

Keep in mind that the company should not appear to be merely cheering on its employees' charitable efforts from the sidelines. To avoid this, the company's management can pledge to double the amount collected from this year's profits, for instance.

8. Creative company gifts

While it's true that you can never have too much candy, the common practice of handing out identical five-piece Christmas chocolate gift boxes in the middle of December to all employees gives the impression that HR took the easy way out.

A semester of language study, a gym membership, or a workshop in the employee's field of interest would all be great gifts that would improve relations between the company and the employee. Multiple options should be provided so that each person can pick the one that works best for them; again, the internal communication platform is the best place for this to happen.

9. Christmas cards

Reviving this nearly extinct holiday practice that once was reserved for distant relatives is a daring way to show gratitude to coworkers. Personalized messages are a great way to show people how much you appreciate them always being on time with their tasks or how they always find a moment to help others. The card can be digital and sent to the recipient through an online service using either a pre-made image or animation or a personal one taken by the sender. Including a personal note from the sender is essential. Top-level managers can use the card to privately reward exceptional workers with a bonus or other perk, or to offer more substantial praise.


All of the above suggestions for online company parties are more successful the more welcoming you make the online environment for workers. Better results can be expected from a holiday contest or collection if the internal communication platform is appealing and people are eager to use it daily for other tasks.

It could also work the other way around, with employees being shown just how much fun can be had in the digital platform by having traditional Christmas activities moved there.