It’s been a difficult year for many companies – here in New York City, the nation’s financial capital, it’s been a particularly difficult 3 years. If you’re like most business owners, HR directors or department managers, you are likely in a far different situation regarding your annual holiday party than you were prior to the economic downturn.

How, then, amidst slashed budgets and scrutinized expense reports, can companies possibly provide their staff with an appropriate holiday party, allowing them to let off steam and reward them for a year of hard work? In addition to my beloved trivia team building events, NYC is home to a wide variety of budget-friendly options for showing your employees a good time during the holiday season – often right in your own office space.

Here’s a nice list of 25 ideas to jump-start your creative engines:

1.         Hire a magician

2.         Bring in a DJ for a dance party

3.         Arrange for a guided wine tasting / pairing session

4.         Rent some tables, hire some dealers and have a casino night

5.         Bring in a stand-up comedian

6.         Movie night

7.         Go to a cooking loft in SoHo and have staff bake a massive amount of dessert

8.         Pot luck dinner

9.         Bowling

10.       Costume contest

11.       Talent show

12.       Rent a karaoke machine, or go to one of those places in Koreatown

13.       Set a budget, and arrange for an employee shopping spree at Best Buy

14.       Take the entire office to Top of the Rock

15.       Go to the batting cages at Chelsea Piers

16.       Take everyone to an off-off Broadway show or jazz club

17.       Ice cream making lesson

18.       Tour & tasting at Brooklyn Brewery

19.       Arrange a private tea at the Waldorf-Astoria

20.       Shooting range

21.       Take a bus tour of the city’s best pizza joints

22.       Bring everyone in to be in the studio audience of a TV show

23.       Nintendo Wii Night

24.       Paintball

25.       Bring in a stylist, masseuse & manicurist for a spa night

You may have noticed that many of the above suggestions aren’t NYC-specific, and can in fact be implemented no matter where your business may be. However, for companies located in the Big Apple, there’s really no excuse for not offering SOMETHING for your employees, to reward them for a job well done and get them motivated for next year.

Can you think of any others? Please feel free to share below!