14 Holiday Traditions to Lift Team Spirits This Season

What is a fun holiday tradition you have in the office that never fails to lift team morale?

Ugly Christmas sweater office party
photo credit: Ramsey Mohsen / Flickr

The following answers are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

1. Over-the-Top Decorations

I once visited a customer in Denmark during the holiday season. Prior to arriving they warned me of the absurdity of the Christmas decorations they had hung up in their office. They didn’t disappoint. From tassels and ribbons to candles and glass balls, the office was covered with decorations. The absurdity was so over the top that it made everyone smile. We adopted the trend at our office and we love it.

Diego Orjuela, Cables & Sensors

2. An Exciting Activity

Every year we pick a day where we leave the office to do something ridiculously fun. This year we’re all going to go indoor skydiving, and next year we will do something equally as exciting. We also spend some time together mingling over a nice lunch.

Engelo Rumora, List’n Sell Realty

3. Ugly Sweater Day

We always set a day aside when we encourage our team to wear their ugly holiday sweaters. There are some terrible sweaters out there, and it is always a good laugh to see people confidently sporting them. We make sure to get a lot of pictures for future reference.

Abhilash Patel, Abhilash.co

4. Opportunities to Give Back

We adopt families during the holidays so they can celebrate, too. We also have a tradition of not forgetting our employees. We ask each to create a wish list. We purchase some of their wishes, and then we give them out as door prizes for our staff. It’s something that everyone always appreciates.

Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker

5. Silly Holiday Games

We play Christmas bingo, holiday charades and other holiday-themed games during lunch breaks with prizes. It’s silly and makes everyone laugh. Plus, it keeps everyone in a festive spirit that carries over into productive work.

Murray Newlands, Sighted

Office party DJ

6. Company Band Performances

We have enough musically inclined team members in our company that we have been able to put together a company band that performs at our holiday parties. This definitely lifts morale, since it is made up of a group of very talented individuals, including a former professional violinist, an Emmy-award-winning trumpet player, guitarists, one of our founders who plays the drums and a slew of singers.


7. Holiday Surprises

Every year during the holidays I coordinate a different surprise for my team. It’s never anything too big, as we always have a holiday party, but I like to spice it up. I’ll have carolers come in randomly, someone deliver milk and cookies, or maybe a visit from Santa. It takes 20 minutes out of one day, but everyone enjoys it and wonders what could be coming next year.

Colbey Pfund, LFNT Distribution

8. Dave and Busters

We pick a slow Friday and go to Dave and Busters to play games, eat food and drink. It’s a lot of fun and people enjoy it. I prefer it over any party in the office because people can open up more outside of work, including my introverted staff. Of course, I pay for everything so my staff can enjoy things even more.

Piyush Jain, SIMpalm

9. Potluck With Holiday Food

We love eating, so nothing gets us more motivated than having an excuse to bring in food and have a potluck together. It’s especially fun when people bring their traditions and culture into the mix. One of our colleagues is from England, so we get to have things like sausage rolls, plum pudding and advent calendars full of chocolates.

Angela Ruth, Calendar

10. Interactive Events

Our annual holiday tradition is having a party. We participate in a different interactive event each year, such as whirly ball, bowling, a cooking class or an escape room. It promotes teamwork, establishes new bonds and boosts team morale.

Vladimir Gendelman, Company Folders, Inc

Community holiday party

11. Community Events

Our office is located in Manhattan Beach, California, a small beach town. Every year they do a holiday open house for the shops and businesses in the downtown area. It’s become a tradition for our team to go out to happy hour beforehand and then enjoy the open house. It’s a day we all look forward to — wrapping up work early, having a few drinks and enjoying the beautiful place where we get to work.

Leila Lewis, Be Inspired PR

12. White Elephant

There is something exciting about this silly gift exchange that gets everyone pumped for the holidays. Maybe it is the competitive motivation to come away with something decent, or the joy of watching a coworker get stuck with a tacky gift. Regardless, it is one tradition that everyone seems to enjoy, year in and year out.

Ben Landis, Fanbase

13. A Talent Show

Every year we close with a Christmas dinner that we all share as a company. We usually make it more fun by having a talent show where employees share their talents with the rest of us. Of course there are awards at the end for the first three places, and also raffle tickets. This is a tradition we all enjoy every year as a company.

Alfredo Atanacio, Uassist.ME

14. Unconventional Holiday Movies

There is no shortage of popular holiday-themed movies, but after watching the same ones year after year people tend to get bored. One of our favorite Christmas movies to watch in the office during the holidays is “Die Hard.” Although it may not seem like a movie that gets you in the Christmas spirit, we get a real kick out of it and find it a refreshing alternative to the standard holiday fare.

Bryce Welker, Beat The CPA