How Do You Celebrate Your Employees During The Holidays? — Experts Weigh In

The Holiday season is the perfect time of year to celebrate your employees! This year, we’re excited to take the MyCorp employees on a Wine Safari, where we’ll be wine-tasting and feeding exotic animals to show our appreciation for all their hard work.

From gym memberships and apple watches to extra time off and whisking employees away in limos to surprise holiday parties, here’s how some of our small business experts are celebrating their employees this holiday season:

1. “This year we’re giving our team extra time off for Christmas for free. We’ve given them free reign to decorate the office with whatever sparkly things take their fancy. We’re throwing a cheese and wine party in the office in a couple of weeks and organizing a team meal out. Of course we’re also running the obligatory secret Santa 🙂 and we’ve made sure that anyone who wants an advent calendar gets one.” -Kat Quinzel, Vintage Cash Cow

2. “We celebrate the holidays in a multitude of ways with our employees. We generally have a Christmas party one afternoon with an awesome holiday meal by a local chef and a Dirty Santa/White Elephant gift exchange, which leads to lots of laughter and is an awesome way to get employees to loosen up and have some fun in the midst of the stressful holiday times. We also do an optional Secret Santa gift exchange between everyone at the company – we’ve never had anyone turn down the opportunity to be a part of it, so we’re sure it’s a winner! Additionally, this year the company is purchasing everyone year-round memberships to Planet Fitness as a way to inspire, and enable, them to stay balanced, healthy, and active in and out of work.

Being a small business, our employees livelihood and satisfaction directly affects the performance of the company as a whole and we also get to know each of those who work with us quite well through company through parties and events like these around the holidays. It’s part of what makes being a small business awesome.” -Reagan Toal, Federal Brace

3. “Our CEO & COO are hosting a surprise holiday party next week. The employees only know that they have a required company meeting starting at 5 pm on Friday [most figured out that we’re having a holiday party, but they just expect something catered in the office].

We will surprise them with a limo bus that will take all 24 team members to downtown New Orleans to eat at Fogo De Chao. We will have games and surprises for them along the way.

We also have our annual My IT Mega Trivia Game where our CEO emails a question at 9 am every work day, and the first correct response gets to pick a wrapped gift from under the tree (ranging from $100 gift cards to Apple Watches).” -David Bourgeois, My IT

4. “We employ over 140 members of staff in positions ranging from manufacturing to marketing, but when Christmas comes around, everyone is equal regardless of their salary or position in the company. We always give each employee a gift at Christmas as a token of our appreciation. In recent years, we have gifted shopping vouchers to our staff to help them with their Christmas shopping – this is especially appreciated among the production workers who are on a lower income. There is also the annual Christmas party, to which everyone is invited. We hire out a venue which is local to us and invite all our staff to come and join in some festive fun before the Christmas break begins.” -Darren Green, Poles Direct

5. “After many years of doing the traditional Yankee swap and catered lunch, this year we’re celebrating the great job our employees did and hosting a fantastic evening cocktail party and welcoming spouses and significant others. After all, they share their important people with the company throughout the year so thanks are due to them too. Also, everyone likes swag so as a surprise we’re printing great fleece vests with the company logo to keep them warm in the winter and to wear with pride. We’re looking forward to a great holiday season.” -Eric Godes, Daintree Advisors

6. “We are a small wedding planning firm based in Richmond VA. Our employees, interns and clients are like family to us. This year finances didn’t allow for bonuses so we are opening our home to our staff, clients and their families with an Ugly Sweater Party. Who doesn’t love a theme and ugly sweaters are so fun! We are having a photo-booth with Christmas themed props, a boozy hot cocoa bar, a bourbon and cigar bar outside for the guys, s’mores station for the kids and a contest for the ugliest attire complete with trophies and prizes! We wanted to have something a little more intimate and cozy. Holiday parties are great but with so many popping up on the calendar dressing up starts to become a chore. This is a way for us to celebrate without formality and truly enjoy everyone’s company which is what the season is all about. Friends, Family, Fun and Making memories.” -Sarah Ntouskas, Make it Posh

7. “Each year we hold a company-wide Christmas meal to share good food, good stories and a great time of fellowship and fun with all of our employees. Everyone enjoys the down time and a large feast with everyone’s favorites.

At Totally Promotional, we celebrate the Christmas holiday all month long with activities planned by the staff. Beginning the first week of December we have daily food carry-ins, where employees sign up for a day to bring their favorite holiday snack or treat.

This year we have introduced a new charitable program, Totally Giving Back. This program is our way of giving our employees an opportunity to team up to help families in need in our community.” -Brad Stultz, Totally Promotional 

8. “As a small business owner, I don’t have employees but do subcontract work to other service providers. I consider them part of my team, so this year I collaborated with a local soap artisan to customize a soap set that reflects the values of my business. She worked with me to set up a retainer system and a surprise gift link. My contractors then only had to provide their address information and she sent the package to them at no charge. It helped a local business, and provided a nice surprise to those on my team. And it was efficient for me. Win. Win. Win.” -Beth Beutler,

9. “Every year, right after Christmas, we hold the annual BowTie Awards to honor our team and recognize their value. We go all out to make sure that they feel our love and appreciation.

The ceremony is held at a local country club and kicks off with a red-carpet entrance, leading up to a fancy reception. Everyone is then ushered to the dining hall, where they walk past candy stations, photo booths and cameras flashing everywhere (literally).

Dinner seating arrangements are pre-arranged, based on different themes (respect, leadership, passion, creativity, etc.). Throughout the three-course meal, superlatives and award-winners are announced. The most prestigious award is the BowTie Award, which goes to the team’s MVP of the year.

After dinner, the dancefloor opens, the DJ goes insane and a real-life Golden Ninja break dances…. and everyone tries to keep up.” -Michael Sahouri,

10. “The Holidays are my favorite time of year because I get to share with my employees and it gives me an opportunity to express how much I appreciate their hard work and dedication. The week before Christmas I would have a holiday party with everyone at the office. During the party I would give all of my employees a handwritten letter showcasing their achievements for the year. I like using a handwritten letter because it’s a genuine way to show that I really do care. Along with the letter would be a visa gift card to really help celebrate the holidays. Giving back is the best part to celebrating the holidays with my employees.” -Lisa Chu, Black N Bianco

11. “We are having a company potluck with our core members of the company but also with ALL of the staff that enrich the PUNTO culture and make it all happen. From maintenance staff to interns and founders, we will be saying thank you to each other and making sure each and every one of our team is appreciated. Our team works so hard to make sure that our clients have the best parties at Punto so now, we (the founders) will make sure that the team can party as well. This party is for those never get to party because they are working the parties. We’re also excited that PUNTO has diverse, international roots to include American, Brazilian, Dominican, Netherlands, Northern Africa and Thailand, so the food is sure to delight us!” -Debora Balardini, PUNTO Space

12. “We are hosting an end of the year catered luncheon with a year-end wrap up (fun and funny) compilation video of the year and a brief company recap presentation. In addition, we’re doing a 2 week secret santa that wraps up at the luncheon. The company also gives each person $150 amazon e-gift card, as well as their performance bonus. During the month of December, each week will include some type of provided food for the employees. Gift baskets from local businesses, hot cocoa and cookie break, bagels and donuts. Some fun and festive to celebrate the season & thanks the team for their hard work.

This is fairly typical of what we do during the month of December. Our employees are exceptional people and we want to take the time to acknowledge their hard work.” -Mickey Swortzel, New Eagle

13. “As an art marketplace we deal with creatives and customers from all over the world. This year, for the team, we have made personalised greeting cards from some of the artists and will send these out with gift cards to enable everyone to get some artwork they love for their home. We’ll also be hosting a big team lunch at a swanky partner venue where artworks from some
of our artists hang year round. And we won’t take ourselves too seriously. Christmas Jumper competitions, white elephant gift exchanges, and a team trip to Winter Wonderland are all planned.” –Rise Art

14. “The team here at Shoreditch thought it would be fun to do something a little different and have a swingers party! That is to say a night at Swingers – the crazy golf club, London. There’ll be a bonus for the winner and a bar tab for the loser.” -Andy Kirby, Shoreditch