5 Fun Ideas to Liven Up Your Holiday Party
Holiday parties are popular at the end of the year, but they can start to feel tedious after a while. There’s nothing wrong with egg nog, a small gift exchange, or ham or turkey with all the fixings. But if you want your holiday party to stand out among all the others, it’s time to try something different to spice things up.
With a few tweaks, you can turn that practical holiday party into one people will talk about all year, while still entertaining on a budget. The following ideas work for families and friends as well as business parties.
1. Choose a Theme
Parties should be fun, and you can have a lot of fun with a theme. There is always the traditional ugly sweater contest. But why not be more creative and encourage your guests to get involved and excited at the same time?
Create a theme suggestion box, appoint a small team to solicit ideas from your staff, or send out a family email request. Potential themes include:
- Elves. Buy a premade elf costume, DIY one, or dress as the now-iconic Buddy from the movie “Elf.”
- Christmas Movie Characters. There’s a long list to choose from here, from Scrooge to the Grinch to Cousin Eddie from “Christmas Vacation.”
- The Best Red Nose. Rudolph is one of the all-time great Christmas characters, and when you think of Rudolph, you think of his red nose. Getting a red nose is easy, but can you decorate one, perhaps with glitter? Can you design one that lights up? There are lots of fun possibilities here.
2. Hold a Contest
Friendly competitions are always a success at a party. Possibilities include:
- Holiday Quiz. Ask trivia questions with a holiday flare. Who played George Baily in “It’s a Wonderful Life”? What department store is featured in “Miracle on 34th Street”? What’s the name of the theme song for “A Charlie Brown Christmas”? (The answers, in order, are: Jimmy Stewart, Macy’s, and “Linus and Lucy.”)
- Christmas Impressions. Can anyone do a great Grinch impersonation? Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Jingle All the Way”? Mariah Carey singing “All I Want for Christmas”? Put impersonation ideas in a hat and take turns acting them out and voting on whose is the best.
- Crazy Pet Costumes. If pets are invited, have guests dress up their pets like a reindeer, snowman, Santa Paws, or whatever other holiday costumes they can dream up. Take lots of pictures and enjoy a giggle.
3. Do Some Karaoke
Who doesn’t love karaoke? Even people who say they don’t sing often end up participating once they see their friends and colleagues having a blast.
Better yet, karaoke is easy to host. Sure, you can hire someone with a trove of tens of thousands of songs to choose from. Or you can simply use YouTube, which has music and lyrics for tons of karaoke songs. To keep things in the holiday spirit, you can stick to Christmas songs.
4. Have an Ornament Steal-a-Thon
This is one of my favorite Christmas activities. Here’s how it works.
Everyone who wants to participate buys an ornament that costs no more than $5. Players pick a number from a hat. For example, if 10 players are in the game, “1” goes first, and “10” goes last.
All of the ornaments go in a pile, and players pick based on their numbers. Once players have their ornaments, the fun really starts. The first player has the option of keeping the ornament they chose or “stealing” someone else’s, giving them their ornament in exchange. The player whose ornament is stolen can now steal an ornament from any other player. In the basic version of the game, players can only have their ornament stolen once, and they can only steal someone else’s once. But you can change the maximum number of steals to whatever you like, depending on how long you want the game to continue.
This game can be a ton of fun, especially if people bring some really unique ornaments everyone wants (or some awful ones no one wants). You can also use any other inexpensive item you like, such as mugs or socks.
5. Around-the-World Potluck
Workplaces are becoming more diverse in every way. So why not bypass the traditional catered affair in favor of an around-the-world potluck for your holiday party? Ask employees to bring a dish unique to their culture and discuss its importance.
I’ve learned about several dishes this way that I regularly make now. Encourage employees to include recipe printouts for anyone who wants to try their hand at a dish themselves.
Your holiday party doesn’t have to be the same run-of-the-mill event everyone has attended before. There are lots of fun ways to liven it up that don’t cost a ton of money and are sure to put a smile on your guests’ faces.
And who knows – you just might start a new tradition.