An office Christmas party can feel pretty generic especially if it involves the same decorations, foods, and games. This is not to say you can’t have any of the traditional stuff, but it sure would be nice to switch things up a bit.
Here are some alternative Christmas party ideas we have implemented with great feedback from our clients and their guests.
1. Themes with a Difference
A surefire way to add some flavour to your party is by having some sort of theme. Personally, we prefer alternative Christmas party ideas that have not been overdone.
Themes like a masquerade ball or Winter Wonderland are a bit too common for our taste. This is not to say you can’t use such themes, and we have certainly used them at our client’s request.
Think outside the box. What are some themes you generally wouldn’t associate with the holidays?
Here are a few ideas:
- A winter murder mystery
- A gothic Christmas, using a lot of dark colours
- A beach party theme
- An outback barbecue theme
Christmas party ideas don’t have to fit in with the conventional model of a holiday celebration. Of course, you can retain some of the core elements like a Christmas tree and a Santa for the kids, but we always like to go against the grain.
2. Choose an Off-the-Wall Venue
When it comes to holiday parties, the typical venue includes some lavish facility with a bar and restaurant. Since we’re talking about alternative Christmas parties here, you should have an alternative theme to match.
Fortunately, there are some awesome Christmas party venues in London. Some of these are your typical multi-purpose rooms and blank canvas spaces.
There are, however, a few others that are not your average venue. The impressive Earth Halls, located in the Natural History Museum is not your typical venue. There are venues located in underground railways, in maritime vessels, and in aquariums.
One location we particularly like is the London Dungeon. Its morbid atmosphere makes it a venue you would expect for a Halloween party. However, we purposefully recommend it as a holiday venue just for the sake of switching things up.
3. Ugly Sweater Party
Okay, an ugly sweater Christmas party isn’t totally unique, but we recommend it because it generates so much laughter. An ugly sweater isn’t hard to acquire. You can buy them or make one of your own. We have seen some Christmas jumpers that are so ugly that they’re ingenious.
One advantage with this theme is that it provides the perfect opportunity for selfies. If you have an event hashtag, then have guests use the hashtag with each posting on Instagram. This will help gain some free marketing for you. You should do this even if it’s just a private party for internal staff.
4. Organise a Team Building Event
Christmas parties should also incorporate some team activities. This serves a two-fold purpose. It provides a fun activity that will get people engaged and laughing. Second, it may also give you a gauge of how well staff members are able to work together and communicate.
One activity we really like is a Christmas taxi treasure hunt. This is one of those alternative Christmas party ideas that require a lot of coordination since you also have to get in contact with local cab drivers.
In this day and age, you can also coordinate with Uber drivers as well. This activity is heavily modelled after the hit reality show Amazing Race.
If organising such an event is too much for you, then there are simpler activities. One simple game is the human knot, which is a popular icebreaker that requires tons of communication among players.
5. Choose a Shared Christmas Party
Some people prefer a private and low-key party, while others prefer a bigger and more energised celebration. The latter is a nice change if your parties are often limited to staff and their family. We recommend a shared Christmas party, which is essentially one big party with people from other companies in attendance.
One advantage of a shared holiday celebration is that it allows you to make use of a larger venue that you would otherwise be unable to fill or afford. The cost is also split between the different companies.
Plus, partying with strangers can be a good thing. You never know who you will meet. We have hosted shared parties that resulted in business and romantic relationships.
6. Make a Charitable Donation
The holidays are also a time to give back to the community. Use the party as a chance to contribute to a positive cause that makes an everlasting impression.
There are plenty of charity organisations that will appreciate your efforts. A toy drive is quite common and simple; just have guests bring an unwrapped and gender-neutral toy. You can even host a charity dinner and invite the head of a charity organisation to speak and raise awareness.
London has some awesome charity venues where the following events are typically held:
- A dinner with envelopes at each seat where guests make monetary contributions
- A charity casino night
- Auction night
7. Plan a Party During a Different Season
We are not kidding when we say that we have planned a Christmas party during sunny July. We have also planned holiday parties in early January to help clients and their guests beat the post-holiday blues. Another idea is to plan a Christmas party extra early, say, mid-November or something like that.
There’s a few advantages of having a holiday party outside of December. For one, December is the hardest month to book a venue. Some venues require reservation a year in advance. Second, venue fees are also cheaper during non-peak months.
Finally, there’s the benefit of giving attendees something to look forward to outside the holiday season.
Let’ face it: all the best holidays occur at the end of the calendar with very little to look forward to the rest of the year. An early or mid-year party will most certainly raise morale when it’s needed most.
8. Plan a Winter Festival
One of our go-to alternative Christmas party ideas is a winter festival. Most people are familiar with summer festivals.
What is a winter festival, though? We believe it should incorporate a lot of the outdoors, meaning a venue with outdoor access is a must. This is also where a lot of the activity takes place, including the dining, entertainment, and socialising. In some of our previous festivals, we have included activities like disco dancing, Santa sumo suit wrestling, rodeo reindeer, and outdoor movie theatre.
For us, a festival is also synonymous with live music, and we like to incorporate a live band playing holiday melodies and classics. This includes a makeshift dance floor right on the lawn, or cosy rugs laid out for guests that would prefer to just have a seat on the floor and relax.
Ultimate Experience has hosted a number of alternative Christmas parties, both private and shared. We can plan your party regardless of whether you want a traditional or alternative celebration.
Please comment below and share some of your own Christmas party stories. While you’re at it, be sure to share your favourite concept ideas by tweeting at @UltimateExp.