Christmas Team Building & Corporate Events: Start Planning for Christmas in July

Christmas Team Building & Corporate Event Planning

Anne Thornley-Brown, President
Executive Oasis International

Banishing Scrooge and The Grinch

It’s been a tough couple of years for many companies and they have had no choice but to scale back or forego Christmas celebrations. That is unfortunate but understandable. In 2008 and 2009, we saw the Scrooge Factor take over even in some companies that were doing well. They cancelled their Christmas celebrations because they were worried about “optics”.  BOO!  Now THAT’S a novel approach to motivating employees.

Employees work flat out to produce results all year. The holiday season is the perfect time to inspire your team with Christmas themed team building or to thank them for their hard work with a Christmas event. So before companies cancel Christmas events yet again and members of the senior management team risk getting yet another lump of coal in their stockings, this year they should really consider making it up to their teams and start planning early.

Top 10 Reasons to Start Planning for Christmas in July

  1. Since the economy has not fully recovered, you’ll still be able to save money as many venues still have affordable prices. By postponing your planning until most venues are booked, you’ll end up paying premium rates, especially if the economic recovery is stronger than anticipated. As a rule, venues increase their prices as the festive season draws closer.Tip: Some companies do their festive event during the 1st 2 weeks of January. At that time, rates are lower at many venues. Snow is guaranteed and they can incorporate activities like snowshoeing, sleigh rides, and dog sledding into their event.Here is an example (complete with videos) of a team building retreat that some of our clients have offered in January. Festive elements have been incorporated into the theming:

Arctic Survival Team Building

  1. Start your planning in July to avoid a hectic pace and ensure a smooth planning process.
    Q4 is usually a busy period for many companies. Sales and business development teams are working flat out to make their quotas. Marketing is running special promotions. Finance is working on year-end books. If your product has a seasonal peak as the holiday season draws near, your customer service team will be busy handling customer inquiries. It makes perfect sense to focus on planning your festive event during the quieter summer months and allow your team to focus on business priorities during Q4.
  2. In July, it’s still possible to get your preferred date and venue for your Christmas event. Many companies leave their planning until later in the year and find that few suitable venues are still available. In fact, it’s still time to combine your Christmas celebration with a retreat at a sun destination in November or early December when rates are favourable.



  1. By planning early, you can give back to the community.Many charities have deadlines in late November or early December. If you plan your festivities now, you can time your Christmas team building or corporate event to coincide with these deadlines. One idea is that you can do something creative like planning a Christmas party that includes a cooking event and inviting members of your community who have been hard hit during the previous year to attend. You can also do a cooking event and put on a Christmas party for a soup kitchen or shelter.Every year, companies contact us in late November hoping to participate in the Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Shoebox initiative, an affordable way to give back to the community, as part of their festivities. By then, it’s too late. They have missed the deadline.

We’ve been discussing this article on Linkedin and it’s become clear that many people don’t know about Samaritan’s Purse. We included a video in our article on re-engineering incentive travel. Here is another one.

  1. In November and early December, you can take your team off-site at a reasonable rate if you don’t delay your planning.Many foreign and domestic resorts and hotels still have very favourable rates for overnight stays in what is typically a low period.If your company was doing well but you still cut incentive trips, retreats and the Christmas party last year, you can make it up to your team. During the pre-Christmas season this year, use part of the money you saved and take advantage of low rates to reward your team with an off-site, even if it’s just an overnight.Have a combination of business & some outdoor activities during the day and your party at night. If it’s not within your budget, you can even give employees the option of paying for an upgrade so that they can bring their families along.
  2. If you allow sufficient time for planning, you can incorporate facilitated team building into your festive season event. Related to number 5, if you cancelled off-sites and incentive trips because of “optics”, you combine business with pleasure by selecting an upbeat business simulation and adding a festive theme to it. There is no need to worry about “optics” as your team will be focusing on business goals as well as enjoying themselves. This will also give you an opportunity to reward your team and focus on achieving results for the coming year.
  3. Employees need ample notice to reserve the date for your event.
    During the pre-Christmas season, the members of your team will be juggling invitations to a number of personal events. It is important to give them a lot of notice so that they can easily accommodate your event.
  4. As the holidays draw closer, you and the members of your team will be busy making festive plans on the homefront. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to relax and enjoy the season this year without having to rush around making last minute plans?
  5. If you’re offering a strictly recreational or social event for Christmas (i. e. without facilitated team building components), planning a Christmas event is an ideal developmental opportunity for inexperienced members of your team.They will need time to formulate and execute plans and juggle their planning with work commitments. Forming a small team of no more than 4 or 5 employees is possible if you give them their assignment now. You will also need to have a more experienced employee or a professional event planner to guide them.
  6. Planning early will give you ample opportunity for brainstorming and designing a truly unique and memorable event. After all, your team has worked hard. It’s important to give them something special to look forward to and a chance to end the year in a special way.


Other Blog Articles with Ideas for Christmas Events:

It’s never too early to get into the festive spirit. If you need some inspiration, here are some places where it’s always Christmas:


Business Team Building Simulations that Give Back to the Community

The following team building simulations have built-in charitable components or they can be adapted to include a focus on giving back to the community:

  • Visexecutaries: Apprentice Team Building
    While many companies are now “jumping on the ‘giving back’ bandwagon” (and that’s a good thing), a charitable component has been built into this simulation ever since it was first offered in 2003.
  • Restaurant Inc.: Cooking Team Building
    The restaurant can prepare meals and decorations for a Christmas party in a low-income area, soup kitchen, homeless shelter or a nursing home.
  • Team Building with Toys
    All toys that are produced or used in this simulation are donated to local charities or schools in low-income areas.
  • Survivor Team Building
    Whether your setting is the mountains of Oman, a winter wonderland in Canada, or the hills of Jamaica, opportunities to make a difference in the lives of local communities are built into each simulation.


Ideas for Team Recreation with a Festive Flair

The following recreational activities for teams can easily be adapted and offered with a festive flair:

  • Cooking Team Building
    The focus can be on preparing menu items with a festive flair. Pre-Christmas dates sell out fast. If you are considering this option for your team, it is important to book now to avoid disappointment.
  • Great Canadian Race or Amazing Race Team Building
    This can be used as a way to help your team discover the secret location for your festivities. It takes some planning as smooth logistics are tough to pull together at the last minute.



Other Christmas Blogs

Photo Credits: Robert Boltholfe,  chadhNiki Odolphie

Need help with Christmas Event Planning?

Executive Oasis International has a wide range of options for Christmas team building and corporate events.

Christmas Event Planning

6 thoughts on “Christmas Team Building & Corporate Events: Start Planning for Christmas in July

  1. Jon L says:

    This is a great article and makes me want the Christmas party to come sooner…like we all do.

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