The 5 Ws of Your Company’s Holiday Party

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The 5 Ws of Your Company’s Holiday Party

Every fall ERC surveys Northeast Ohio organizations about a critical part of their workplace practices—their holiday party. Without fail this topic is hugely popular, typically garnering one the largest pools of responses we receive all year.

Whatever the reason may be (Really excited for the holidays? Looking for new creative ideas to implement this year? Tired of being surveyed about more serious issues like comp and benefits and ready for something lighter?) 2015 was no exception. So with the Thanksgiving holiday already in the books and the 24/7 Christmas music radio station playing over your office’s PA system, let’s take a look at what company holiday parties are looking like here in Northeast Ohio this holiday season.
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29 Ways to Celebrate the Holidays at the Office

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holiday celebration ideas 29 Ways to Celebrate the Holidays at the Office

Winter brings a lot of things we find hard to embrace: snow, cold weather, taking 10 minutes to bundle up for the cold, and more snow. But with all of the hassles of winter, it also brings along something we can embrace: the holidays!

The holidays are a great way to bring your office together and celebrate through gifts, contests, food and decorations.

Here is a list of 29 ideas for your holiday office celebrations.

  1. Have employees decorate their office door and have a contest among everyone
  2. Host an office potluck
  3. Holiday office bingo
  4. Get an Elf on the Shelf and have the elf leave small gifts for different employees each day
  5. Decorate your cubicle and have a cube contest
  6. Host a hot chocolate bar with different toppings
  7. Have fun pizzas in the shape of Christmas trees and have employees decorate the trees
  8. Make it a family affair and bring in a Santa for the employee’s children
  9. Host a bake-off among all the employees
  10. Rent a photo booth for your holiday party
  11. Incorporate a charitable cause and donate gifts from your organization, such as Toys for Tots or Trees for Troops
  12. Organize a white elephant gift exchange with your employees
  13. Shoot a holiday video with employees to share with your customers - Don’t have a camera lying around? Use your smartphone!
  14. Have employees bring in their favorite cookie and have a cookie tasting
  15. Host an ugly holiday sweater day at the office
  16. Set up a holiday card exchange for employees
  17. Get your employees together to watch a holiday movie, like A Christmas Story, and make popcorn and hot chocolate in the office
  18. Get employees together and do some caroling around the other offices in your area
  19. Surprise unsuspecting people that you see at your office on a weekly basis with a little gift, such as the UPS driver that is always bringing packages to your office
  20. Do a craft with your employees like you did in grade school, such as snow globes made out of baby food jars
  21. Get the office to decorate a centralized Christmas tree in the office
  22. Play a game of minute to win it: holiday edition
  23. For smaller offices: get everyone a stocking to fill with gifts
  24. Organize a snowman building contest
  25. Put marshmallows into a large jar and have all of the employees guess how many are in the jar- the employee closest to the exact number will win a prize
  26. Buy some wrapping paper and bows and cover your artwork in it to make your office look more festive
  27. Decorate your office windows with spray snow and have your employees write holiday messages to each other
  28. For the New Year, have your employees write down a prediction for the upcoming year and create a time-capsule. Open it up with your employees 1 year later and see who was right
  29. Give employees company logo items, ranging from clothing to mugs, as a thank you for their work this year

View ERC's Holiday Practices and Paid Holiday Survey Results

These surveys report on which holidays Northeast Ohio organizations plan to observe as well as holiday parties, gift giving, and more ideas for the holiday season.

View the Results

Is Your Office Halloween Party Scaring the HR Department?

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Is Your Office Party Scaring the HR Department

The upcoming holiday season always brings with it an assortment of potential HR headaches (think vacation schedules, alcohol at the holiday party, the list goes on…). But before we even get into November, Halloween presents its own set of pitfalls and concerns that can make HR professionals cringe.

So if you already have a Halloween party on the office calendar this year, here are a few HR-approved tips that you might want to consider.

Tip #1

Remind employees that even though it’s a Halloween party, they are still at a work function. Although the code of conduct may be more or less relaxed at your particular organization depending on your culture, they are still in the workplace.

Make sure to send out an office-wide email with dress code and conduct expectations or information in advance.

You can also reference your Employee Handbook to remind everyone they still have to abide by the organization’s policies.

Tip #2

Provide employees with specific guidelines about costumes in advance.

Again, this may depend a bit on your organizational culture, but whatever the restrictions are, make sure they fit with your policies on harassment, dress code, weapons, etc.

If employees will be wearing costumes throughout the workday, make sure they can perform their basic work functions and still be productive. While this is particularly important for manufacturers who need to be worried about safety of their line employees, you also can’t type on a keyboard very well if your costume includes giant clawed hands.

Tip #3

Take into consideration whether or not some employees may find certain Halloween decorations offensive. While you can’t predict if an employee is going to make a costume choice that is in poor taste (although you can do your best per Tip #1), you, the employer, can take steps to make sure that anything you are contributing to the celebration is well thought out. This is supposed to be fun (for everyone), not create a hostile work environment.

Tip #4

Think about the timing of the event in advance and check with others about their schedules. If your business is going to have clients coming in for meetings (and again, know your culture), you may want to ask employees to refrain from changing into their costumes until after the last guest has left the office for the day.

Timing may also impact whether or not alcohol is a factor, i.e., if it’s a luncheon during the workday, serving alcohol is out of the question.

However, you’ll want to decide if employees will need to change back into regular clothes following the lunch hour festivities and make sure that’s communicated in advance.

Tip #5

Consider a “Harvest” or “Fall” celebration instead. If you have significant concerns over a Halloween themed party and the complications that costumes and decorations bring with them, maybe a Halloween party simply isn’t right for your workplace. There are still plenty of fun team building events or parties you can put on to celebrate the season without even mentioning Halloween.

Halloween Activity Ideas

Pumpkin Carving

If your organization doesn’t have a big budget for Halloween, consider a simple pumpkin carving activity! This is also great for organizations in which time is an issue. Pumpkin carving can be an hour-long, end-of-day activity at 4:00pm.

Candy Corn Guessing Game

This is another great activity for the time-restrained yet festive organization. Have a jar filled with candy corn in a central location or at an HR employee’s desk and take guesses throughout the week on how many pieces of candy corn are in the jar. The winner takes home a $10 giftcard!

Trick or Treating

Adults like candy too! Encourage employees to bring in treats to share with one another. Employees can go office to office or cubicle to cubicle trick or treating! Not only does this result in a festive, fun activity but it promotes engagement and morale between employees.

Happy Halloween from all of us at ERC and good luck! 

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Holiday Party Budgets Continue to Grow

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The percentage of employers hosting holiday parties has hovered just under the 75% mark for several years now and 2012 is no different. What we do see is a resurgence in terms of the total budget allocation for both holiday parties and employee gifts. After a sharp decline in 2009, employers have consistently reported that they are budgeting at least as much, if not more, for both of these line items.

Timothy Magaw of Crain’s Cleveland cited the ERC survey in this week’s issue of Crain’s noting, “Even at the recession's peak, the region's workplaces didn't altogether banish their holiday parties. But as the recession's grip loosened, these same companies appear to be spending more on their end-of-the-year blowouts.” More specifically the data shows that of those organizations that are spending more in 2012 to celebrate the season the average budget increase is 25%.


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10-Step Company Holiday Party Planning Checklist

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Most companies have a holiday party for their employees each year. In our 2012 ERC Holiday Practices Survey, nearly three-quarters (73%) of 186 Northeast Ohio organizations surveyed are planning a holiday party for 2012 and the majority (66%) are budgeting the same or more than in 2011.

Holiday parties are ideal for gathering all of your staff, showing appreciation, and celebrating the year's success. Nonetheless, putting on a great party also requires thoughtful coordination and planning. To help you plan your company's next holiday party, we've developed a checklist of critical tasks.

1. Determine the type of event.

Luncheons are generally the most common type of company holiday party (51%), and evening parties are the second most common (38%). The type of holiday party can affect the date you select. For example, evening parties are often hosted on Saturdays nights (83%) while luncheon parties are most commonly hosted on weekdays. Also, luncheons tend to be a budget-friendly alternative for holiday parties, while evening parties tend to be more costly.
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