Ah, the annual year-end celebration; the perfect opportunity to recount, reminisce and reward. It’s a golden tradition all over the world, but one that’s become harder in recent years.
No stress. Here we’re giving you 18 of the best ideas for a team-building, morale-boosting, live or virtual end-of-year party that’s sure to put smiles on faces!
Why Host a Year-End Celebration?
- For your staff – We’ve all experienced some serious turbulence in the last two years. The stresses of working from home and the constant merry-go-round we’ve been playing with COVID-19 has likely been a huge burden for a lot of your team members. A year-end celebration gives them the chance to forget extraneous worries for a period and strengthen bonds with each other in the long-run.
- For your company – Achievements need to be celebrated. It’s never, ever a bad idea to recognise individual and company-wide goals that have been met, and a year-end celebration gives you the perfect opportunity to do that.
- For your future – We all know the importance of setting well-defined goals as a company. A year-end celebration may not be the time to go into your future targets in detail, but it’s a great chance to announce the overall direction of the company and the kinds of things employees can expect next year.
10 Ideas for a Year-End Celebration
No matter whether you’re hosting your party live or online, these 10 end of year work celebration ideas will set your party alight with laughter.
Idea #1 – Run a Quiz
Where would we be without the humble quiz? It’s been the backbone of year-end shennanigans since time immemorial, but has really taken off in the virtual sphere since 2020.
A live quiz is fantastic for creating a lively atmosphere and fostering healthy competition. They’re consistent hits at year-end celebrations and have become the go-to activity for team leaders.
The pen-and-paper method works okay, but true engagement comes from free live quizzing software. With AhaSlides, you can create a quiz (or download one of dozens of templates), then host it live from your laptop while your players compete using their phones.
Idea #2 – Board Game Corner
We get it – not everyone is into the rowdy atmosphere of a quiz. Many of your team might prefer the more ruminative of year-end party activities, such as board games.
Like quizzes, board games have enjoyed a surge of popularity of late. Devoting a good amount of space at your venue to board games is a good chance for people to retire away from the noise of the party and seek sanctuary with each other over innocent games.
The best party-friendly board games are simple ones that don’t require deep fountains of knowledge for players to have fun.
Here are some of our personal favourites…
- Game of Phones
Even family-friendly games like Connect 4 and Jenga can be perfect for a year-end celebration, as they require nothing more than one other player and the vaguest understanding of the rules.
💡 Bonus! Try a video game corner as well. Set up a TV and, if you can get your hands on them, some classic games consoles and games.
Idea #3 – An Escape Room
If you’ve not found it enough of a challenge being locked indoors these past few years, you can opt to go one level deeper and have you and your team locked in an escape room!
Much like a quiz, an escape room is uber engaging and is great for forging teamwork. It requires everyone to bring a different way of thinking to the party, which, it goes without saying, is a super useful cohesion to have moving forward.
The best thing? There are many escape rooms that are now completely virtual-friendly. Just get everyone to join the Zoom chat, hear instructions by your host, then set about figuring out the puzzles together.
You can check your local area for an escape room (there’s always one!), but if you’re looking for virtual rooms, check these out:
- Hogwarts Digital Escape Room (free!) – This free escape room takes place entirely on Google Forms. It follows your exploits as a new first-year student at Harry Potter’s school and your attempts to progress through ‘the new muggle trend’ of a no-magic escape room.
- Minecraft Escape Room (free!) – Another free escape room based on a classic part of child culture – this time the open sandbox game Minecraft. Participants of this one work together to solve Minecraft clues, which are surprisingly suitable for both children and adults.
- Mystery Escape Room ($75 per room) – This USA-based escape room brought all of its classics online in 2020. They’ve got themes involving pirates, ghosts of Christmas, classic investigators and superheroes, accommodating between 4 and 8 people per room.
- Paruzal Games ($15 per person) – 6 games with some unique concepts and hidden easter eggs. It’s possible to have parties of between 1 and 12 people.
Idea #4 – Scavenger Hunt
Here’s one that may sound quite childish until you try it, but it can be a real laugh for all involved when done right.
If you’re looking for a riddle-oriented scavenger hunt, we’d recommend going through a scavenger hunt agency, which can set up a full hunt in your office, or even online!
But if you’re looking for some simple, but hilariously daft challenges, check out some of our favourite scavenger hunt ideas:
- Find 5 things that look like eggs and cook a fake omelette with them.
- Find someone who’s name begins with the same letter as yours and swap clothes.
- Find 3 bits of stationery and combine them together to make a new bit of stationery.
- Find the people with each of the tattoos on the list.
- Find all the people that can do the floss and make them do it together.
Idea# 5 – Awards Ceremony
What would a year-end celebration be without an awards ceremony? If your colleagues can’t spend this time celebrating their own and each others’ achievements, then when can they?
Even if you’re hosting a virtual year-end celebration, you don’t have to leave out any of the pomp and circumstance in your awards ceremony. An awards ceremony online feels just as regal as a live one, the only difference being that no one has to worry about tripping on the stairs or an unfortunate wardrobe malfunction.
In our opinion, this is the kind of activity that should be hosted internally. It’s always more meaningful being presented with an award from your boss, rather than a professional host.
Here’s how you’d arrange it…
- Start off by listing the categories, determining the winners and ordering the engraved trophies or prize rewards.
- Create an online poll and get everyone in the company (or relevant departments) to put forward their vote for the winner of each category.
- Reveal the winners of each category at your end-of-year celebration.
Here are a few categories for your awards ceremony:
🏆 Employee of the year
🏆 Most improved
🏆 Best growth booster
🏆 Best customer server
🏆 Above and beyond
🏆 Calming presence
🏆 The engager
Free Year-End Meeting Template
Grab an interactive presentation where your team can have their say. Present on your laptop and your team respond to polls, idea votes, word clouds and quiz questions on their phones!
Idea #6 – Talent Show
Not everyone is going to be down for this, but the average company usually has enough amateur singers, dancers, skateboarders and magicians to make this activity a blast.
Before the party starts, put out your invitations and gather applications for different talents. When it’s party time, create a little stage for your talented staff, then call them up 1-by-1 to put on the performance of a lifetime.
Here are a few tips:
- Don’t force anyone – This should be a completely voluntary activity.
- Keep it diverse – The more weird and wacky, the better. Who’s to say onion peeling isn’t a talent, anyway?
- Encourage group talents – Not only are they more fun to watch, they’re great for team building.
Idea #7 – Beer or Wine Tasting
Looking to add a touch of sophistication to your year-end celebration? Looking to get everyone as drunk as possible so you can have an early night? If either or both, you’d definitely benefit from featuring a beer or wine tasting session in your roster of activities.
There’ll be plenty of services for hire around your local area. Many are reasonably priced and can teach your team about the subtleties of different beverages, and if you think deeply enough, life.
There are also plenty of virtual services that can do this over Zoom. The alcohol is shipped to your team members’ houses and everyone takes their pompous sips together. The sommelier will take you through each beverage and get everyone’s opinions on each.
Of course, if you’re doing your year-end celebrations on a budget, you can host your own beer tasting by buying the beers, shipping them out to your team and taking on the role of sommelier yourself. You may not be as chemically accurate as a real sommelier, but you’ll all have fun!
Idea #8 – Cocktail Making
While beer and wine tasting is good, you might have a few members of the team who are a bit more into doing. That’s where cocktail making comes in.
For this one, you need nothing more than glasses, measuring equipment, a set list of spirits & mixers and someone who knows what they’re doing. Usually every company has one and they’ll usually jump at the chance to lead a class in what they know. If not, you can always hire a professional.
If you’re doing this in the virtual sphere, you can send each team member a cocktail kit containing everything you need.
Idea #9 – Run an Auction
Who doesn’t love a high-octane auction to get the blood pumping? They’re not normally a feature of year-end celebrations, but there’s nothing wrong with being unique.
It works like this…
- Give out 100 auction tokens to each staff member.
- Bring out an item and show it to the group.
- Anyone who wants the item can start the bidding.
- Normal auction rules apply. The highest bid at the end of the lot wins!
Naturally, this is another one that works perfectly well online.
Idea #10 – Painting Challenge
One for the creatives, this. Painting Challenge brings the art of painting and the usual alcohol level of a year-end celebration together, with results ranging between masterpieces and utter garbage.
Provide your crew with painting kits and a classic art piece that you’re going to try and copy to the best of your ability. Try to opt for something relatively simple, like Van Gogh’s Starry Night or Monet’s Impression, Sunrise.
Again, you can get a professional instructor for this, or you can just wing it and see what happens – that’s how you get the most hilarious results!
At the end, take a vote between everyone to see who’s is best and who’s is a comical masterpiece.
8 End of Year Party Themes
Celebrations and themes go hand-in-hand. A theme can help you stay consistent not only with the decor and the costumes, but also with all the activities you plan on hosting.
Here are our top 8 all-encompassing themes for a year-end celebration:
Do-good parties are very much on the rise, as they mix fun with a genuine sense of pride and humbleness, which is much more than what alcohol will do for you!
There are few ways to put on a year-end celebration that contributes to charity, including a good deed scavenger hunt, building bicycles for those in need, or the wonderfully named End-Hunger Games.
Another idea is to set up a ‘fee’ for each activity at your party. Each player pays the fee before paying, 100% of which goes to charity.
One of the classics. Is there any better way to end a freezing cold December than with hula skirts, tiki torches, coconuts and sand?
Aside from the decor, you can right in the island mood with Hawaian themed activities like the lei toss, limbo, and island bingo. And if you feel like splashing out, why not hire a fire dancer?
Even in a non-Olympic year, there’s something quite aspirational about an Olympic-themed party to end the year. It’s all about achievement and success, so hopefully it fits perfectly with the overall performance of your company.
With an Olympic theme, each partygoer (or team) chooses a country to represent, then you host each of your activities as an olympic event, with gold, silver and bronze place going to 1st, 2nd and 3rd places.
Aside from activities, you should deck your venue with rings, banners, medals and an inordinate amount of flags.
The 70s was a decade full of the kind of vibes you’d want at a party. Groovy, sparkling, cheesy – it really had it all.
Relive those glorious years with a disco-themed year-end celebration. Your decorations should be vinyls, balloons, mylar tinsel and a disco ball, and naturally, everything should be caked in glitter.
As for activities, a costume contest, dance contest, music quiz, and pass the disco ball are all very of-the-era.
🦸♀️ Heroes and Villains
When Marvel throws their end of year parties, you better believe it’s a cavalcade of the best hero and villain characters from the latest movies.
You might not have a Marvel-level budget, but everyone can dress as a superhero or villain, either by buying their own costume or by sewing underwear to the outside of their suit trousers.
Throw a Marvel quiz, decorate with old school ‘KA-POW!’ signs and make some superhero cupcakes together. You can even split staff into superhero and villain teams at the start of the night and count points up for various activities throughout.
🎭 Masquerade Ball
Bring a touch of old Venetian class to proceedings by throwing a masquerade ball.
This allows your staff a chance to wear their fanciest cocktail dresses, with the addition of a hand-held mask and a LOT of feathers and glitter.
Activities like costume competitions are a given, but games like murder mystery, create-a-skit and mask decoration can keep partygoers entertained for hours.
🎩 Victorian England
Take a step back in time to the roaring 1800s, when hats were large and party outfits were even larger.
The decor for this one is fairly straightforward – large flowers, small teacups, doilies, (fake) pearls, ribbons and multi-tiered trays of sandwiches and mini cakes.
Activities include a fashion show, needlecraft, scone-making and a shed load of parlour games like charades, 20-questions, wink murder and more.
🧙♂️ Harry Potter
The wizarding world of Harry Potter is vast. There’s so much you can do with this year-end celebration theme.
For food, go for chocolate frogs, every-flavour beans and butterbeer. Decor can be split between the colours of the four houses, and all activities like a Harry Potter quiz, Dobby sock toss and even a full-blown game of Quidditch can earn points for the 4 teams of Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin.
The perfect year-end celebration is interactive. Host fun quizzes, interesting polls, hilarious votes and much more for free on AhaSlides!