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Recently, I had an email from a manager who was worried about her office Christmas party. Over the year, conversations at the office morning teas had dried up. People just sat quietly, drank their coffee, and counted down the minutes until they could get back to their desks. The manager rightly figured that if morning teas were painful, the office Christmas party would stretch time to truly terrifyingly boring proportions.

The manager won’t be able to fix 12 months of disconnection between her team in one short party, but she can take the lead and start to get things back on the right track.

People need some reason to talk to and with each other. They need to be quietly jostled out of their comfort zones and to be given permission to allow fun back into the workplace.

This opens up the possibility of Christmas party games. There are many websites around the net to give you ideas, but here are a few options that suit any size group and any degree of extroversion.

Pin the nose on Rudolph

A variation on “pin the tail on the donkey”, this is a lovely gentle game that is great to start things off.

Bauble & chain

Everyone blows up their balloon and ties it to their ankle with some ribbon. On the given command, the goal is to pop everyone else’s balloon while keeping yours intact, only using your feet. As the numbers dwindle, you may want to reduce the playing area.

Who has … ?

For this game, everyone sits in chairs in a big circle. Remove one chair from the circle and have that person stand in the middle and ask, “Who has (worn jeans)?” If anyone in the group has worn jeans, they have to stand up and quickly find a new seat. They are not allowed to sit back in their own chair, and the person in the middle races for the nearest chair. The person left standing then says “who has (read a book in the past month)?” and people then move. Sounds innocent – but after a few turns the questions tend to become more interesting and conversations naturally spring up in the days to come about who answered specific questions.

12 days of Christmas

Break your staff up into 12 teams and allocate each team one of the verses of the 12 days of Christmas. Their goal is to sing only their verse, accompanied by appropriate actions, as the song progresses.

Carol Charades

Break your staff into two teams. Have a representative from each team draw a Christmas Carol title from a hat held by the judge. The representative then has to act out the title so the rest of the team can guess. The moment they think they have guessed the title, they have to sing one chorus of the song at the top of their lungs. When the judge agrees they have the correct title, the representative draws another carol title and acts it out. Generally three carol titles done as charades works well for a party.

The manager’s Christmas party speech is also a time to speak from the heart about the manager’s pride in their team, their thanks and gratitude for all the help of the staff during the year and to highlight some good things and lessons from the year.

Christmas is a time to deeply acknowledge and not damn with faint praise. The greatest gift you can give your team is the gift of focus, attention, understanding that they are truly valued and permission for some fun. Of course, the odd great Christmas bonus doesn’t go astray either!

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