Last Updated 12 months by Emily Standley-Allard
Throwing a company party at the end of the year provides a space for employees to develop relationships and focus on team building outside the restrictions of regular working hours. Employees will appreciate the time and dedication invested in creating a celebration in their honor, so it’s essential to make it tailored and memorable. Here are 6 end of year event ideas to show the most appreciation to your employees.
Choosing the Right Event Ideas
It’s vital to answer some questions as you begin planning your event because they are not one-size-fits-all, especially as the pandemic has changed office parties for the foreseeable future. Ask yourself these questions for a better-curated gathering:
- How will the current company culture influence my decision?
- How well do I know the employees personally?
- What are ways I can personalize the event for them?
- What are the demographics of my employee base — remote or in-person?
These guiding questions will help lead you and your team through the logistics. The answers to these questions will help navigate the event’s focal point, paving the way for more intricate party planning.
An end-of-the-year event ideas can have what seems like countless moving parts. The size of the organization can influence decisions. It will help nail down pivotal party elements that affect the budget, such as:
- Venue: Is the office building or a rented-out pavilion more appropriate? It could even be outside at a local park or garden. You could do something online as well to include remote employees.
- Catering: You could ask a local restaurant to cater or seek food trucks to spice up the energy. Ensure you tend to all employee dietary restrictions, so nobody feels excluded.
- Decorations: The wrong decorations can come off cheap. There’s no need to spend too much on them, but make sure they’re classy and appropriate.
- Entertainment: Is your employee base the type to dance alongside a DJ, or are they more into yard or board games like cornhole and Jenga?
- Alcohol: Most employee events include alcohol to take the edge off being in an unfamiliar setting with people previously only known in a work setting. Is an open bar the best idea — you could consider a limit — or, depending on the venue, could employees bring their own?
- Gift-giving: This is not a requirement for an end-of-year party — especially if your company does seasonal bonuses, which are the best gifts. However, you could organize a white elephant exchange or prepare goodie bags.
Do not be afraid to ask for employee input as well — it’s not like the party will be a surprise. Plus, the appreciation they will feel, knowing their ideas are valuable, will only increase their gratitude when the event comes.
Several kinds of event ideas will make everyone feel calm and rejuvenated as they enter the new year.
1. Rally for a Charity
When young workers make up most of the current workforce, you should do more than show gratitude at an end-of-year party — you also want to increase retention. Hosting an event focused on supporting a charity will please all generations but specifically appeal to the socially good obligations held by most younger professionals.
2. Announce Big Changes
If the staff knows there will be some noteworthy office-related announcements, it could instill excitement for the next working year like no other event. Maybe the building will be undergoing renovations, or the business is implementing a new bonus or merit-based structure to gamify progression in the workplace.
No matter what it is, it’s exhilarating to give employees something work-related to look forward to while they let loose.
3. Book an Escape Room
Escape rooms come in many flavors, from space themes to ancient Egypt, so analyze company culture before crafting the event.
It’s important to have realistic expectations that the theme may not appeal to everyone. Have workers vote on their favorites before reaching a consensus. It provides another opportunity for employees to think critically and unravel strengths more subtly among the laughter and exciting pressure of finding clues.
4. Run a Talent Show
Though this seems like an idea straight out of high school, talent shows are an underrated resource in the workplace. It helps co-workers share more about their lives outside of work in a performative — and slightly competitive — setting. It could help connect people by showcasing skills they wouldn’t have a chance to in their line of work.
5. Incorporate a Theme
Though ugly Christmas sweater parties make for a cozy, wintery theme, you could also take this time to get more creative. Is it a winter Olympics year? Have everyone dress like athletes and incorporate fun, competitive elements into the party. Alternatively, you could have everyone dress from the decade they were born to ring in the new year with nostalgia.
6. Give Awards and Superlatives
Awards can be company-given, highlighting the hard work you’ve noticed throughout the year. Appreciation is great, but recognition is just as important. Before the event, you could drive home how much their opinions matter by asking them to nominate superlatives to announce alongside the awards. They could be serious or more comedic, such as:
- Most improved
- Most likely to drink the entire pot of company coffee
- Most likely to yield the most profit next year
- Most stylish work wardrobes
- Most likely to not be at their desk
Showing Employee Appreciation at Events
Even though it’s difficult to relax after a long year of work, your employees will respect the fact you made an effort to thank them for their dedication. Your event will bring everyone together for a roaring start into the new year with newfound confidence, collaboration and creativity to make profits and team-building soar.
Eleanor is the editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She was the director at a marketing agency prior to becoming a freelance web designer. Eleanor lives in Philly with her husband and dog, Bear.
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