Creating an Alternative to the Office Holiday Party

Christmas parties aren't the only way to spread holiday cheer around the office.

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By Lisa Evans


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Sure, holiday parties are great. But not everyone enjoys the forced chit-chat with colleagues and clients. Rather than host yet another holiday party, why not take a page from some of these companies' holiday gift books.

Here's what some creative companies are doing to celebrate the holidays with their employees:

They set goals.

At the Canadian training software company Tasytt, each employee is encouraged to write down a few of their biggest failures of the year (either personal or professional). The team then takes an afternoon off to sip hot chocolate and share their failures. "Tasytt is a small startup and we encourage transparency and honesty," says founder & CTO Alex Sopinka. "We're not doing this to reminisce about the negative, but rather to reflect on what was learned from those failures."

Afterwards, employees are encouraged to write down a success that they would like to see in the coming year. The team then breaks for dinner and shares their hopes for the future. The tradition helps to bring the team of seven closer and help everyone learn from each others' mistakes and set goals for the New Year.

They get charitable.

This year LiveHive, a sales-management system, partnered with the Santa Clara U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots program to help donate toys to the local community, and engaged their Twitter followers in the process. For every tweet the company received with a sales tip or the hashtag #SalesTips4Tots, the company pledged to donate a new toy. "It gets everyone engaged in social media. People are tweeting sales tips, our employees are retweeting and getting their followers engaged as well," says Jennifer Dignum, associate director of communications.

This year, the company pledged to donate $2,000 worth of toys and invited local startups to join them. In addition to spreading holiday cheer, the campaign also helped spread awareness about the company. "Last year we were fairly unknown in the sales industry. We actively engaged with key influencers for the campaign and the response was overwhelming," says Dignum.

Related: A Concise Guide to Being a Well-Mannered Holiday Guest or Host

They add a personal touch.

Lisa Chu, owner of Black N Bianco Kids Clothing, gives each of her employees a handwritten letter thanking them for their contribution to her business. "My employees are the roots of my success," she says. "Highlighting all of their success in the letter is a genuine way to show my appreciation."

The day before employees leave for their holidays, Chu takes them to a family shelter. "During this time of year, more families seek shelter because of the cold winter and they are always understaffed," says Chu. "I like celebrating the holidays with my employees in the family shelters because it really helps remind me and my employee's what is truly important in life."

Helping those in need also helps boost the morale of everyone in the company. "It's a very different approach to celebrating the holidays with my employees, but giving back to the community is probably the best gift me and my company can contribute during the holidays," says Chu.

They give back, to each other.

SchooLinks, an online platform that connects students and schools, decided to forego normal gift giving. In exchange, every team member will offer one hour of their time to another team member to fulfill any offer, such as doing someone's laundry or cooking a meal. By offering each other's time, founder & CEO Katie Fang feels employees will not only be giving something but the team will get an opportunity to know each other better and help one another on a level that really matters rather than just receiving some tchotchka.

"I wanted our team to bond, rather than merely give gifts, which may not last," says Fang. "Having team members offer their time, we are able to create memories. To me, that is more valuable."

Related: Everything You Need to Know to Make a Good Impression at the Holiday Party

Lisa Evans

Lisa Evans is a health and lifestyle freelance journalist from Toronto.

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