According to a recent survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), fewer companies plan to host a holiday party this year. Some cited financial challenges as a reason for opting out of this festive tradition; for others, there is the pressure of creating office events that are fun and inclusive. Spreading holiday cheer in the workplace not only creates a happier environment, it fosters greater employee engagement and team-building. So although office holiday parties are on the decline, you can still get into the holiday spirit, and have some fun with these 6 simple ideas:

1. Appeal to the Five Senses 

One of the simplest ways to get everyone into the holiday spirit is to appeal to at least one of the five senses. You can create a festive atmosphere with familiar sights of holiday decorations, like giant snowflakes, garlands, trees, ornaments, or holiday-themed art. Fill the air with holiday scents like vanilla, cinnamon, or fresh pine. You may also opt for sounds like instrumentals of holiday classics, or appeal to everyone’s taste buds and sweet tooth with holiday cookies, chocolate, cake, and other sweet treats. Spreading holiday cheer with sights, sounds, smells, and tastes is sure to evoke happy emotions (sense of touch/ feel) during this time of the year.

2. Fun Gift Exchanges

Make your holiday gift exchanges more fun and exciting, and less stressful for your employees. First, set a spending limit. Invite everyone to participate in the gift exchange, but do not make it obligatory. Incorporate fun gift-giving ideas such as Secret Santa, where each participant chooses a name, and gets a gift for the person selected. One of my favorite ways to exchange office gifts is a White Elephant. This game begins with the first person choosing a gift from a central pile, and then unwrapping it. The next person may choose to either select a new gift from the pile or choose the unwrapped gift that was previously selected by the first employee, and so on. There’s never been a shortage of laughter and excitement whenever I’ve participated in a White Elephant gift exchange, even at the office.

3. Spread Holiday Cheer by Giving Back

Doing good is a great way to feel good. You can get your employees into the holiday spirit by volunteering at a soup kitchen, or partnering with a local or national charity organization to support one of their drives – donating your collection of toys, coats or canned food. Besides drives, there are other ways to give back through holiday charity programs, like the adopt-a-family program, where your organization meets the holiday needs of a specific family. Coming together as a workplace family to spread joy to families in need is a profound way to get into the holiday spirit.

4. Holiday Potluck

A holiday potluck is a great way to bring everyone in the office together to eat, drink, socialize, and get to know one another better. The more successful potlucks are well-planned. Be sure to coordinate the various dishes with sign-up sheets to avoid having too little or too much of any type of food (Although, you can never have too much pie… especially apple pie. Yum!). Food items should  be properly labeled with the name of the dish, and a brief description. This information will help facilitate adherence to dietary needs, restrictions and preferences. It’s also a great way to get introduced to delicious recipes (I’ve obtained my fair share of new recipes and cooking secrets from office potlucks).

5. Create New Holiday Traditions

This  holiday season, consider starting fun, new  holiday traditions, beyond the major end-0f-year company party. Create activities that will boost workplace morale, foster team building and make employees feel appreciated.  Nothing boosts the holiday spirit like a Holiday Spirit Week – you can incorporate some of the previously listed ideas in this festive week, or add fun days and other interesting activities like: Ugly Sweater Day, Holiday Bake-off, or even a Fruitcake Taste-off (what better way to rid… I mean share your holiday fruitcake gifts).