Office Christmas parties are one of those things that everyone has a strong opinion on one way or the other: your employees will either love it and look forward to one every year, or they’ll loathe the holiday gathering as a cliche-ridden festival that they’re socially forced to attend.

Fortunately, there are ways to celebrate the holiday season that don’t involve the same traditional things that every office employes. Employing a few of the tips below will ensure that your Christmas party is a success, even by the occasional Employee Scrooges.

1. Have an “Ugly Sweater” Day

If your office has a “Casual Friday” that allows you to wear whatever you want (except for pajamas), replace this for a few weeks around the holiday season with “ugly sweater” day. Your employees will love it, and it’ll give everyone a nice morale boost at the end of the year.

If you’re not familiar with ugly sweater parties, the idea is that you find, either at a thrift shop or in your grandmother’s closet, the gaudiest, most unattractive sweater you can find and show it off. Sometimes a contest is run as to the worst overall, most ragged, or something similar. Consider doing the same in your office, and it’ll create laughs and memories for years to come.

2. Have a Cookie Tasting

Alcohol is prohibited in a lot of offices these days for various reasons, so instead of wine tasting, encourage your employees to bake their own special cookies at home and have a tasting or competition as to who has the best. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate; even having the cookies out all day in the break room can be enough, but it will get your people in the holiday spirit and also get them excited about bringing their creations to work to share.

3. Have a Catered or Potluck Lunch

Speaking of cookies, if you have some employees that love to cook, ask them to bring a festive dish for a potluck lunch that they can share with others. Even the ones that don’t like to cook can still contribute drinks or chips so that way everyone gets involved.

Alternatively, you can go to the other end of the spectrum and have a fully-catered lunch by a local favorite. Complete the look by setting up elaborate decorations and having a nice table set up for all your people. It doesn’t usually cost very much to do, but your employees will definitely appreciate the effort you went through to show them how much they’re appreciated.

4. Have a Cubicle-Decorating Contest

For many employees, their cubicle or office is their own little world that they can truly call their own amongst the chaos of an average workday. It’s their sanctuary, their home away from home, and whether you realize it or not, they take a lot of pride in how it looks. Many of the common home Christmas decoration ideas can be applied to an office cubical as well.

Reward that effort by having a contest that allows them to show off their space and their creative side. Let them use any decorations they want to show off some holiday cheer (within reason, of course), and present an oversized medal or ribbon to the winner. As a bonus, and a way to really show your employees appreciation, perhaps even invest in some new desks and chairs for your office and employees as they spend most of their time there and would appreciate new digs.     

5. Make a Donation to Charity as a Group

Some offices simply won’t go for Secret Santas, holiday parties, or anything of the sort; even if they do, they may not get much out of it. In lieu of those events (or even in addition to it), consider making a donation to charity out of the corporate fund in everyone’s name, or asking people to go in together and then pick a charity that they vote on together. Studies have shown that employees find charitable giving motivational, so tap into this with an event that truly embodies the holiday spirit.

Want to take this a step further? Organize a trip for your employees to the local food pantry or homeless shelter and do some volunteer work. Not only will they be able to give back to their community, but they’ll also form bonds around a shared common experience that will last for years to come. And if nothing else, it’ll get them out of the office for a while, something everyone will be a fan of.

To prevent Employee Scrooges this year, use the fun tips provided and have a Happy Holiday!