Many companies hold office holiday parties to celebrate the season and reward employees for a years' worth of hard work. The changing economy has really made in-office parties more popular, as they can be more affordable than an offsite event. The challenge with an in-office party is making it more fun than a typical day at work. If you are planning an office holiday party, we have some ideas to help make thinks exciting and festive.

Ugly Holiday Sweater
Last year at the GigMasters' holiday party, we were all asked to wear our favorite (but not attractive) holiday sweater. With everyone in gaudy holiday attire, it made for some great laughs, and the office felt more festive. The awful sweaters also made for great conversation starters (you know sometimes the beginning of office parties can be a bit awkward). We suggest offering a prize for the ugliest sweater - a little competition always motivates people to get more involved.

Door Prizes
Offer each employee a ticket when the party begins. Throughout the event, call out random winners and let them claim their door prizes. Be creative with the prizes - how about a half day off work, free lunch on the company, or a better parking space for a month? Offering affordable work-related perks as prizes is a great way to brighten your employees' holiday season.

Cookie/Baked Goods Swap
The holidays are one time of the year where people feel like it's okay to loosen their belts a little and indulge. There are many different kinds of delicious holiday treats and everyone has their favorites. Why not encourage everyone in their office to bring in their favorite holiday cookie or baked good. Then, you can put out a buffet of scrumptious sweets for everyone to enjoy.

Yankee Swap
Of course, you can go the traditional route of a Secret Santa gift exchange where each person picks a name out of a hat and buys a gift for a co-worker. But, we suggest you spice things up and try a Yankee Swap. Here's how it works - ask each guest to bring a funny gift to the party. Then, assign each guest a number. Once numbers are distributed, the first person will pick a gift from the pile and open it. The second person can either "steal" the first gift or open a new one. Continue until all the gifts are gone. You should limit it so each gift can only be "stolen" twice. A Yankee Swap can definitely liven up the party and each guest will get to leave with a whacky souvenir of your office holiday party.

Entertainment
The easiest way to liven up your holiday party is to include entertainment! Adding karaoke could could really increase the energy of your office party. But, if you don't want to hear your co-workers' renditions of Dominic the Donkey, you could hire a DJ to play music and keep the flow of the party going. You could also invite a very special guest to the party - Santa Claus! Your co-workers may get a kick out of getting their pictures taken with old St. Nick. It's not every day you get to party with Santa!

What ideas do you have for planning an office holiday party? Share your thoughts in the comments below.