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Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Holiday Staff Party and Gift Ideas

Does your school celebrate the holiday season? The holidays are such a great opportunity to schedule in some holiday fun for staff! And even if you don't have a traditional holiday staff party annually, I'm a huge advocate for sprinkling a bit of festive cheer all throughout the season. Come along and check out these fun ways you can add some winter sparkle to your school all month long!

Use these fun and exciting ideas during your holiday staff party this year.

Why Your School Needs a Holiday Staff Party

Whether you're a principal, a school administrator, or in charge of planning staff events at your school, there is SO much benefit in planning a holiday party of some kind during the month of December. 

Plan a holiday staff party to keep your staff morale high during the winter season.
First off, this time of year is hectic, both at school and at home. Setting up some kind of holiday party that takes place before your holiday break is a great way to "take a breather" with staff and soak up the season. 

Another reason to have a holiday party is to help encourage team building and staff relationships. 

Teachers and other school employees work hard, and often independently (aside from interaction with the kiddos) for most of the day. 

Making time for parties allows your staff to get to know each other, chat about challenges in the classroom, and help support each other.

Embracing Variety in Holiday Activities for Staff

My favorite reason for having holiday staff parties though is to embrace the opportunity to show appreciation to the staff. 

Plan your holiday staff part to include lots of activities to help everyone feel appreciated in their own unique way.
We're all so different. Did you know that different people feel appreciated in different ways? Some of us feel appreciated when a thoughtful gift is given, while others feel most valued with words of affirmation. 

Choosing to have a holiday party with a variety of games and activities means you'll be able to get each of your staff members the recognition they deserve in the exact way they resonate with best!

If you would like to ensure your holiday party is well-rounded and touches on different forms of recognition for staff but aren't sure where to start, I've gotcha covered. 

Here are 9 ideas to help add some holiday cheer to your holiday staff party, and all month long!

1. Staff Holiday Postcards 

Now this first one is actually best when used prior to your holiday party to help build a bit of excitement! 

Use postcards like these during your holiday staff party to show your staff and their loved ones how much they are appreciated.
One year, at the beginning of the month of December, I received a super thoughtful postcard from my administration. 

It was so kind and heartfelt, that I left it hanging on my bulletin board for years. Once I saw them start this tradition, I knew other schools could benefit from sending out holiday postcards to their staff too! 

This idea will really speak to those of your staff that relate to words of affirmation. 

Taking the time to share how staff efforts are noticed and appreciated will often go much further than simply giving them another sweatshirt or coffee mug with the school logo on it. 

My best advice for this one is to plan ahead! Start writing these postcards in November so that you can give thoughtful, caring, and personalized feedback to each person. And. . . if you think you will have a hard time remembering specific things for each staff member, keep a Note on your phone or tablet all year long.  As you see staff members doing something, jot it down.  When it comes time to write those personalized cards you will have all the real-life examples of the amazing things they have done. 

2. Holiday Decor 

What's a holiday party without décor?! 

Staff appreciation tags like these are a great addition to your holiday staff party ideas because they are a great way to show your staff how you appreciate them.
Personally, I loved decorating for the holidays as soon as we were back from Thanksgiving break so that we could enjoy the decorations for as long as possible. 

As a member of the Sunshine Committee for years, I loved adding some holiday magic to staff mailboxes, the teacher's lounge, our school Christmas tree, the copy room, and even the staff bathrooms this time of year! 

One of my favorite ways to decorate included using Staff Appreciation Tags. The idea behind this resource is to write down your favorite thing about each staff member on these festive holiday tags. 

Then, string them up on a colorful ribbon and hang them around areas that staff visit most. 

Everyone will LOVE to read what's been written about their colleagues. They come in options for Christmas, Hanukkah, and winter too for added variety!

3. Hot Cocoa Bar 

This next idea is always a huge hit with staff and it's something you can implement even if don't have dedicated time for a staff party. 
Organize a hot cocoa bar for your holiday staff party for an extra special sweet treat your staff will love.

Setting up a hot cocoa bar is a great way to get your staff in the holiday spirit and give them a special treat too! 

You can run this activity as a potluck-style event where teachers and staff will sign up for items, or it can all be organized by admin. 

Either way, everyone will love the opportunity to grab a cup of hot cocoa and add some special toppings on the day of the event. 

This resource comes with everything you need to plan, organize, and execute a successful hot cocoa bar. 

There are announcement signs, decorative signs, labels for cocoa toppings, and even a recipe for homemade hot cocoa that your staff will LOVE! Use this activity on a Friday in December to recognize your staff for their hard work.  And. . . if they love it you can do it again in January to brighten up those dull winter days.

4. Gift of Time 

Give the gift of time by taking over the class for a few minutes.
This next idea is one of my absolute faves because as a former teacher, I know that time is the one thing none of us ever have enough of! 

The best way to make this work is to arrange for administration, a special guest, or parent volunteers to help out. 

Plan a special assembly, a movie day, or a guest presentation for students to attend. Or rotate through classes doing a read-aloud or special activity with the students.

During this time, allow teachers to use the time to take a break in the lounge, take a long lunch, or work in their classrooms on whatever they need to get done. 

The holiday season is a busy time and most teachers will be thrilled to get the gift of time! 

5. Staff Scratch-Off Tickets 

Scratch-off tickets make a great, inexpensive gift for staff that's totally unique and fun! 

Scratch off tickets like these can be used before or during your holiday staff party for fun prizes your staff will love.
At my school, we used these all year long at our monthly staff meetings. 

The holiday-themed tickets are perfect for your December meeting or your Holiday Staff Party. 

The prizes that can be uncovered include things like:
  • prime parking spot for a week
  • jeans day 
  • recess coverage 
  • copies prepped for the week, and more!
I love these low-cost tickets and they really help to build excitement and boost staff morale all year long. 

This resource includes instructions for DIY scratch-off paint, or you can print them and use scratch off stickers on the tickets, which is a quick and easy option.

6. Staff Favorites Book

If you're having a Secret Santa or some kind of gift exchange, you'll love the Staff Favorites book. 

Use a staff favorites book like this before your holiday staff party to get a list of things your staff loves to help you plan the best party.
This resource is perfect for helping your staff know what their colleagues like, without having to ask. 

In my school, we filled the staff favorites pages out at the beginning of the year. 

Then, I made copies and placed them in binders for staff to access. 

Inside is a list of each person's favorite things including drinks, treats, office supplies, and more! 

We used them for holidays, birthdays, and "just because" gifts. Making a book like this prior to the month of December is a great idea to encourage gift-giving and recognition among your staff members. 

7. Secret Santa 

Speaking of Secret Santa, have you ever tried this classic holiday gift-giving system at your school? 

Use a secret santa gift exchange prior to your holiday staff party to build the fun of the season all month long.
It's one of my personal favorites, but at my school, we adapted it with a fun twist that "snowballs" throughout the month of December. 

To start the gift-giving chain, you will choose 2 staff members to gift. 

You'll place a Santa sign on their door, drop a gift at their desk, and leave a note letting them know they need to choose 2 staff members to gift next. 

This continues and builds as each person is chosen! Before you know it, your whole school will be covered with Santa signs with this fun holiday game!

Don't forget to refer staff to the "Favorites Book" for this activity too! 

8. Holiday Cookie Exchange

Nothing screams the holidays quite like cookies, right? 

Organize a holiday cookie exchange during your holiday staff party for a delicious treat everyone will love.
Planning a holiday cookie exchange is a great, low-cost party activity that gets your whole staff involved. 

This was always one of my personal favorite events to plan year after year. 

To make this successful, I recommend announcing the exchange and putting out sign-up sheets well in advance. We want this to be fun, not stressful for staff, so giving plenty of time to plan is key!

I liked to have everyone share their recipes as well, and then make copies and bind the pages together into a cookbook for everyone to take home. You can also scan the recipe cards and send out a digital PDF to cut down on paper too!

This resource makes planning a holiday cookie exchange super simple and fun! It includes materials for announcing the event, sign-up sheets, cookie labels, recipe cards, cookbook covers, reminder tags, and decorative posters. 

Try using this activity for your holiday staff party this year! 

9. White Elephant Exchange 

This final holiday party idea is a great opportunity for your staff to give each other gifts without having to spend a single penny! 

A white elephant or silly gift exchange is always sure to get everyone laughing.
White Elephant is a fun game where everyone brings a wrapped gift and is assigned a number to pick one of the gifts from the pile. The gifts can be silly, real, or even specific like an ornament or a book.

Lower numbers choose first, while higher numbers wait their turn. As each person's number is called, they choose a gift and open it.

The next number can either choose a new gift and "exchange" for one of the other gifts that have already been opened. 

This resource is designed to play this game with gently used books. Staff members who would like to participate will choose a book from their own shelf for the exchange. 

This one is always a big hit and makes everyone laugh! Plus, it's nice to have an option that doesn't require staff to spend money. 

Staff Morale Activities for the Whole Month

Can't decide on a favorite from this list? Check out the December Staff Morale Bundle that includes 6, fun activities to use throughout the month. This bundle includes:
  1. White Elephant Book Exchange
  2. Staff Secret Santa 
  3. Staff Cookie Exchange Party 
  4. Hot Cocoa Bar 
  5. Holiday Décor Appreciation Tags 
  6. Holiday Postcards 
This Staff Morale December Holiday Fun Bundle includes everything you need to host an amazing holiday staff party this year.

Grabbing the bundle means you'll save money and be well-prepared for a fun month of holiday staff party activities and gifting! This bundle is a great way to recognize staff and boost morale all month long. 

Oh and if you like having an excuse to celebrate in your building as much as I did, make sure to sign up to grab my FREE wacky holiday list here! Happy celebrating friends! 

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Pin this post on Pinterest to keep these holiday staff party ideas handy! 

Looking for fun holiday staff party and gift ideas for the holiday season? Use these activities, resources, and gifts to plan and implement the best holiday staff party ever this year. #tarynsuniquelearning #holidaystaffparty #teacherholidayparty #teacherchristmasparty

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