Holiday office parties are the stuff of legends and jokes and for some people, fear. There's the fear of drinking too much and embarrassing yourself, but if you're the one planning the party there's also the fear of planning something boring. We've got some new ideas to keep your staff happy and your holidays care-free. Some of these ideas may even combat the loss of productivity that happens over the holidays.

Involve the Family

A lot of offices debate whether to include spouses and significant others in party plans. It can add expense and may inhibit organizational bonding. Instead of just bringing spouses in to the mix, why not move the holiday party to the daytime and include the whole family? Working parents often struggle to find childcare during school breaks. If you're company is open during winter break, consider hosting a "bring your kid to work day." You can arrange for entertainment like magicians and face painters to keep kids occupied during the day, then hold a family-friendly party with a DJ around 3:00 or 4:00. This sort of all-day event won't cost much more than a regular office party and may cut down on employee absenteeism during the break.

fancy wrapped present

It's a Wrap

Many offices "adopt" a child or family for holiday presents. Instead of stopping there, consider turning the presents in to part of your office party. Buy a variety of fun and unusual wrapping and craft items and have people wrap the presents in the office. The key to making this fun is to make sure the supplies you buy are more festive than your usual gift wrap. For example, raffia instead of bows and cellophane and a blow dryer to make large baskets. You can also provide card making supplies. You might even want to contact your local craft store and see if they have someone to provide a "wrapping" class. You can also have a contest to see who does the most creative wrapping job. Don't forget to provide munchies and drinks for people while they're wrapping.

craft fair at work

On the Job Shopping

Even with online shopping, running around buying presents and finding time to wrap them can mean employee lunch hours stretch out during the holidays. Combat this problem by hosting a craft fair in your office. Contact a local artists' group and see if they'd like to set up shop during the lunch hour. You can also contact a local Girl Scout Troop or other non-profit and see if they'd like to provide gift wrapping for employees in exchange for donations to their organization.

Let's Eat

Surprise your staff with a holiday lunch catered by top management. The "C Suite" team can provide the dishes (or let's be realistic, have the food brought in) and serve it themselves. CEOs, VPs, CFOs etc should wear aprons and greet employees by name, taking orders and serving food. A small ensemble to provide background music makes the event more festive.

benjamin franklin at the office

Liven it Up

If your office has a tried and true office party plan, there's no need to completely change it. But consider livening it up with an acrobat performance, an impersonator, or other fun and unusual entertainment. What's the most unusual office party you ever attended? Share your thoughts in the comments below.