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In the war for talent, companies who have unique office holiday party ideas and throw a great party may have a serious advantage. Not only are annual parties fun, they’re an important opportunity to communicate appreciation to your staff. Research confirms that recognition and reward, such as parties with great snacks, can boost morale and improve employee engagement.

“Companies can benefit immensely from throwing an end-of-year party,” says Michele Nichols in Incentive Mag. “While these events provide an enjoyable evening for employees, they also boost morale, encourage bonding, and allow companies to show appreciation in a more personal way.”

A unique approach to your corporate gathering can allow you to communicate brand values, have fun and boost engagement. For inspiration, we’ve curated a list of five exceptional office holiday party ideas and the right snacks to go with each theme.

5 Office Holiday Party Ideas (and Snack Inspiration)

1. Comedy Club

Transform a unique event venue into a comedy club by hiring a stand-up comedian to perform for the evening. Vet performers thoroughly to ensure their material won’t make guests feel uncomfortable and let your employees laugh the night away. Use the stage and microphone setup before or after the Comedian’s set for serious or humorous employee awards or impromptu team toasts.

Lighthearted office holiday party ideas like a Comedy Club pair well with inspired happy hour eats. Serve wood-fired pizzas with a range of seasonal, local toppings to satisfy meat-eaters, vegetarians and vegans, including gluten-free crusts. Creative sliders, wings and wedge salads can round out a menu of bar eats, made better. The Comedy Club theme is best coupled with a keg of local microbrewed beer, regional wine or cocktails.

2. 90’s Night

Thirty-five percent of the American workforce are millennials, individuals born between 1980 and 1996. Chances are, you’ve got quite a few ‘90s kids on staff who would love a throwback night. Encourage employees to come dressed in their best grunge, tracksuits, combat boots and other vintage clothes. Hire a DJ to spin classics like Nirvana, Madonna and Whitney Houston.

Snacks for a ‘90s night should include simple childhood favorites, elevated to excite adult appetites. Instead of Lunchables or pizza rolls, consider creating a buffet of “elevated kid foods” like charcuterie, cheese plates crackers and mini calzones. Bowls of Pixie Sticks, AirHeads taffy and Fruit-by-the-Foot can enhance the nostalgic atmosphere.

3. Giving Back

For some organizations, the right way to celebrate the season is with community service. Employees can work collectively on a volunteer project, such as wrapping gifts for kids-in-need, writing cards or assembling kits for a local non-profit organization.

Snacks for service-focused office holiday party ideas should reflect values of corporate social responsibility and community. Focus on locally-grown sustainable ingredients to develop a menu of finger foods, such as crostini, Caprese skewers and wrap sandwiches. Offer fresh-pressed juices, cold brew on tap or kombucha to healthfully fuel your employees as they engage in giving back.

4. The Great Gatsby

The roaring ‘20’s can be an exceptional starting point for an elegant and exciting theme party. Source an opulent venue with chandeliers, live jazz musicians and bartenders to enhance the speakeasy theme. Guests should be encouraged to come dressed in fascinators, feather boas, flapper dresses and retro suits.

A ‘20’s-themed party demands prohibition-era beverages, including champagne, mint juleps and a blackberry gin fizz. Take inspiration straight from Fitzgerald’s novel by serving up Daisy’s favorite lemon cake, or other citrus-inspired desserts like lemon petit fours. Other elegant snacks could include creative bite-sized crudites, seafood and plenty of fresh fruit.

5. Retro Arcade

If you’ve got a staff of self-avowed gamers and geeks, turning a party venue into a retro arcade could be a popular concept. Dim the lights, and rent arcade-style games or use new systems to play old school classics like Tetris, Pac Man, Donkey Kong and Dance Dance Revolution.

Keep the snacks in line with the theme by catering finger foods and small plates that can be easily polished off in between rounds of Space Invaders. Street tacos, tamales and tortas could round-out a menu inspired by Mexican-American street foods. Alternatively, opt for sushi, sashimi and summer rolls for a fresh-and-light pan Asian menu that can accommodate many different dietary preferences.

Planning a Memorable Office Holiday Party

The best corporate parties come from a place of employee appreciation, with a goal of creating a fun and inclusive night for your hard-working staff. The best office holiday party ideas can elevate the atmosphere and menu, creating a memorable night that employees love. Choosing a different approach to your upcoming holiday party can allow organizations to have fun selecting a venue and catering menu which boosts employee engagement and morale.

Since 1996, Corporate Essentials has been a leading provider of full-service office refreshment services and break room design in New York and New Jersey. Through an acquisition with full-service Brooklyn-based catering company Martin + Fitch, we’re now offering comprehensive support for corporate holiday parties.

Our event and catering experts can offer support in venue selection, event branding, invitations, office holiday party ideas, menu design, staff hiring and event photography. To elevate your upcoming gathering into an event staff remember, Corporate Essential’s boutique event experts can create a unique theme and menu which really shines.

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Judson Kleinman

As the founder and CEO of Corporate Essentials, Judson set out with every intention of bringing a new meaning to the words "office culture". As leaders in the industry, his company constantly sets the bar by investing in, and improving their product offerings, technology, people and training. 20 years and 1500 clients later, Judson can proudly say that Corporate Essentials continues to positively fuel culture and allow over 150,000 employees to work happy.