Holiday Celebration Ideas

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A blog that looks at all aspects of project and program finances from budgets, estimating and accounting to getting a pay rise and managing contracts. Written by Elizabeth Harrin from GirlsGuideToPM.com.

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holiday celebration ideas

Is it too early to be thinking about project team ideas for celebrating the end of the year? Probably not!

And don’t worry about not having anything to celebrate. You made it through another year – that’s enough! If you do have project deliverables or milestones that happen to time with the end of the year, even better, but don’t postpone having a party until you’ve got “something” to celebrate. Working hard all year is enough.

Here are some tips for ending 2019 on a high with your team.

1.Don’t leave it too late

Plan your end of year celebrations now, if you haven’t already started! Many people will be advanced with their planning, and they’ll be booking up the best restaurants and venues.

Also, it takes a while to search for places to go that suit your team and your budget. I remember last year’s Christmas team party for our PMO: we needed somewhere that could cater for vegetarian and gluten free, plus a colleague who was coming in from maternity leave and bringing small baby (and accompanying pram). And we needed it to be cost-effective as we were paying for ourselves. And we wanted to order in advance so we didn’t have ages to wait for the food, because we were on our lunch break! That also meant it had to be close enough to the office to get there and back in a reasonable amount of time.

I scouted out a few venues and found somewhere within our budget, but it took a while.

2.Think outside the restaurants

Over here in the UK, it’s traditional in many companies to have a meal at Christmas with your team. Whether that’s lunch or dinner is up to you. But it isn’t your only choice.

Whether you are celebrating Christmas, another festival, or just marking the passing of another year, food is not your only option for work events. We’ve been out to a comedy club, been sailing (although not something I would do at this time of year) and had a mini-sports day.

You could go to a skating rink, do an open top bus tour to see the lights or something else. Make it accessible. Make it fun!

3. Plan your holiday cards

If you haven’t already, start thinking about who is going to get a holiday card. As the project manager, it’s my responsibility to send cards to the suppliers and colleagues who have supported us through the year.

Ask your Marketing department if they have cards you can use.

You don’t actually need to send a physical card – a nice email with a seasonal picture is enough. Maybe your team could dress up in Santa hats and you take a photo?

4.Manage the team’s liability

Tax rules vary from place to place. Make sure your holiday party/meal and any gifts you give or receive don’t fall foul of local laws.

Here in the UK, my company is limited to annual staff entertaining events totalling £150 per head per year. I believe we could spend this on several different events, like a summer barbecue and a Christmas party, as long as that doesn’t go over. If we go over, we pay tax on the whole amount, and I think there is a liability for the employee as well.

Just be careful what you do, so that no employee ends up with an unexpected tax bill on the ‘benefit’ of having a meal with work colleagues. Check that any project or team event doesn’t conflict with whatever your company might be doing on an ‘all hands’ basis.

5.Have fun!

Whatever you do, try to make it fun. It’s often not fun for the person organising, because there’s the stress of hoping people have a good time, collecting money, being Secret Santa, organising payments and so on.

Perhaps split the work of organising your holiday celebration between the team, so that the burden doesn’t fall all on one person.

Take photographs! You’ll be glad you did when you look back at the end of the project and see what you managed to achieve, and the relationships you built on the way.

Pin for later reading:

holiday celebration idea pin

Posted on: November 25, 2019 08:59 AM | Permalink

Comments (14)

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Great advice. Thank you very much!!

Dear Elizabeth
Interesting this idea
Thanks for sharing

Two possible scenarios for those attending the celebrations:
- The company supports the costs
- The person support them cust

In either case, the more people involved in the organization the more people can come to the event and the more original ideas can emerge.

What idea to start with brainstorming?

Great Ideas Elizabeth - Happy Holidays in Advance.

Thank you for sharing ur ideas, energetic as always!

Thanks for sharing!

In Spain is also tradition having lunch/dinner in a restaurant, here in USA I discovered the office potluck... the first year I spend hours in google to understand "What potluck means?" "What I should bring to a office potluck"?.
Now I'm fully engaged with this tradition, that from my point of view:
- Improve inclusion, we can have lunch from around the world in a meeting room.
- Improve relationships, maybe this peer that you've never talked before made some pie that you want the recipe...

Doesn't matter what and how we celebrate, the important is to have fun and share time with the team.

Thanks for sharing ur 👍 ideas..

Thanks, Elizabeth. Happy Holiday season! White elephant gift exchange is popular here in the states. It gets tricky when across multiple organizations and multiple teams!

Andrew, yes! White elephant is a good one too.

Thanks for sharing, good idea for celebrating. the team activity is a good way to improve relationship and increase understanding each ohter.

Thanks for this! I definitely agree about "thinking outside of restaurants". One of the best christmas events I've done is at a christmas market and then onto a Karoake bar. Was a lot of fun!

Any ideas for 100% virtual teams? I love the sentiment - Reminds me of activities when I used to be part of physical team.

great ideas , thanks

@robin nelson-smith My team is virtual and one of things we do is have a monthly 'social hour' in place of happy hour! We play games, answer questions, like who is your favorite singer? what is your favorite color? the 'two truths and a lie' game and during the holiday season items like 'what is your favorite holiday memory? as a child? as an adult? etc.....................

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