The Holidays can be a great time of year, but they’re sometimes not the best time of year at work. It might seem like everyone has left the office, and you’re the only person who is still there. Or you can feel the itch to get out of the office and enjoy those great holiday activities that it seems like everyone else is enjoying. But if you do some holiday planning and activities for your office, it can be a great time to bond with your coworkers and feel (maybe) a little less stress.
Every office I’ve been in that has planned special holiday activities has been really into the process, and all of the employees get into it, too. In one newsroom I worked in, someone actually suggested that we do the same activities throughout the year for all of the other holidays — big and small. We all enjoyed bringing in food and gifts so much that being at work any other time of year seemed less exciting. And surprisingly, we were more productive when we had these activities to look forward to.
So, if you’re office hasn’t planned anything yet, consider stepping up and planning some easy activities. Or, if you’ve been unexpectedly put in charge of managing them, I thought I’d give you a few ideas:
- Secret Santa. This is definitely the most popular one. You can make it company-wide, or break it up by shift or department. Do three to four days of small gifts, and do the big one on the last day (you can all vote and agree on price limits, and of course, participation is voluntary). Have everyone guess who their Secret Santa is on the last day.
- Potluck lunches. Another popular and easy activity is the potluck lunch. Have different employees bring in different dishes, and everyone has lunch together.
- A formal holiday lunch or happy hour. Take the whole company or break up by department and go to a special holiday lunch/happy hour.
- Cookie exchange. Everyone brings in their best holiday cookies — you can even vote on a winner.
- Decorating your cubicle/office. I worked at one office that had a contest for decorating your cubicle, though it did lead to some bickering. Perhaps just set aside a time and day when everyone can display their holiday decorations. At least offer them the opportunity to decorate, even if there is no formal time to set it up or show it off. You can create a theme for each department or area of the office.
- Group volunteering. You can all head out together to volunteer at a local organization after work or have a toy drive. Offering some way to give back can often lift everyone’s spirits.
- Holiday party. Of course, you can have a formal holiday party for the company and host it at another venue, so everyone can get out of the office. People have the chance to get dressed up and celebrate together.
Even if you aren’t in charge of the activities, you can help keep everyone motivated — and therefore more productive — by contributing in your own way. Bring in treats or small gifts for your coworkers, or give them holiday cards. Everyone likes to feel recognized at this time of year, and they’ll appreciate the effort.