This is our latest guest post from Melanie Woodward, the founder and director of www.eventplanningblueprint.com, a business dedicated to helping aspiring entrepreneurs start their own event planning business.   You can follow her @eventblueprint.

As you’re planning for your office Christmas Party, you may find yourself checking off the same ol’ things off of the same ol’ To-Do List:

  • Pick a theme
  • Find a venue
  • Call the caterer
  • Look up office party games that aren’t super lame
  • Buy a few Christmas CDs for background music (or select the perfect Spotify playlist)
  • Send company-wide invitations

All of these things are very important, and without them your Christmas party could be a total flop. However, if you’re looking to make this year’s event mean something more, exchange the “ugly sweater” theme for something that will make a difference in the lives of people outside of your office. Organise an office Christmas party that gives back to the community.

Here are 4 ways how:

Pick A Charity: Get Employees Involved 

A few weeks before the party, research local charities and get your employees involved picking the organisation that they want to support this year. If the cause is something that really means something to them personally, they will be much more likely to participate in any way they can.

Collect Donations As Admission

Instead of having a “Secret Santa” gift exchange, where everyone spends £5 on silly, nonsense gifts for each other that nobody ever uses, have everyone bring a small, unwrapped gift for a child in the community.

Take the unwrapped gifts to a local holiday toy drop off location after the party to be handed out to needy kids in your area. Another idea is to ask employees to bring used (but in good condition) coats, gloves and hats that can be donated to the homeless shelter to be put to good use during the cold holiday season.

Canned food items are also an easy donation item that can be collected at the party and taken to a local food bank.

Plan Gifts and Games That Aren’t Lame

Instead of trying to throw together a few “ice breaker” activities in an attempt to have everyone mingle instead of standing in the corner with their clique, consider planning activities that benefit the employees AND raises money for a charitable organisation in your area.

Give employees the opportunity to purchase raffle tickets towards coveted prizes. Skip the coffee mugs with the company logo, a new mouse pad for their desk or a company T-shirt. Splurge on items that employees will really use and value.

Consider prizes like a month’s free travel in January, a paid day off, a free lunch or other office wide perks that will entice employees to spend money on raffle tickets, which in turn goes right to charity. An auction is another way to raffle off prizes and raise the most amount of money possible.

Team Building: Think Outside Of The Box 

Instead of pulling teeth to get everyone to participate in team building activities at the holiday party, do something together that actually makes a difference and brings everyone closer.

One company worked together to making teddy bears and wrapped them together with children’s books. Some employees did the sewing, others were in charge of stuffing the bears, and others selected the book and wrapped the two together with festive ribbon.

The time spent working together and doing something for the community brought the employees together and allowed them to bond outside of their day-to-day work expectations. Some other ideas to get employees to work together while working towards a good cause:

  • Get Your Employees To Wrap: Call a local charity and offer to wrap the presents they’ve received from other people to give to people in need this holiday season
  • Bring in supplies to make something creative, festive and crafty for a local hospital or nursing home
  • Scratch the holiday party idea altogether and use that time to volunteer together. Use the money allotted for a holiday party to donate to the cause.

A More Meaningful Christmas Party

Tying in a charitable cause to your next holiday party could be the one thing that makes this year’s event bigger and better than before.

It is easy to do, and will make the event mean even more to the employees. It will also show your employees that the holidays are about more than meeting financial goals, gaining new clients or selling more products; that giving back to the community is an important part of your mission.

This will give your employees another “feel good” reason to love their job and work hard in the upcoming year. It’s a win-win-win situation.

Happy Holidays!

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