Updated: January 01, 2024

20 Office Christmas Decorating Contest Ideas for Work in 2024

Here is a guide to office Christmas decorating contest ideas.

Office Christmas decorating contest ideas are themes and suggestions for friendly holiday competitions around the workplace. Decorating contests can occur among departments, teams, or individuals. These tricks and tips for decorating will help boost team morale during the holiday season.

These contests are a type of workplace competition. For other fun Christmas activities, take a look at holiday scavenger hunts, holiday team building activities, and office Christmas party ideas.


This article covers:

  • office Christmas decorating contest categories
  • office Christmas decorating contest themes
  • office Christmas decorating contest examples
  • office Christmas decorating contest rules

Let’s get started!

List of office Christmas decorating contest ideas

Simple Christmas categories give competitors room to use their imaginations when decorating. Here are some categories that will get you started.

1. Tree Trimming

Tree trimming is an easy-to-assemble office Christmas decorating contest. If your team is large, then you can divide competitors into smaller groups. Each team then decorates a tree. Competitors can choose décor, opting for traditional, modern, whimsical, or a design of choice. Guidelines can determine whether ornaments are hand-made by the team, store-bought, or a combination. If competitors are allowed to purchase decorations, then setting a reasonable budget for the teams to work within will help them as they shop.

Woman in red trimming office Christmas tree

2. Light Displays

A TV-style Christmas light challenge will let your teammates and their creativity shine! Competitors can decorate their desks, deck cubicle walls, wrap pillars, and string lights around office doors to show off their decorating skills. You can encourage contestants to bring strands of lights from home to keep expenses low. If competitors spend any work funds on your displays, your office will have a collection of Christmas lights for future decoration contests.

String of Christmas lights

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3. Gift Wrapping

Teams can compete by wrapping the workplace in pretty paper, ribbons, and bows. Desks, computer monitors, cubicles, and cabinets are prime targets for decking the office halls with fun wrapping. Contestants can race to see how much they can wrap with a single roll of paper or test their skills for speed-wrapping with a timed contest. Contestants can stack empty boxes wrapped to look like presents in the corners for extra detail. Even the art on the walls is fair game when decking the halls with gift wrap!

An office computer monitor draped in garland

4. Holiday Colors

Teams can choose sets of holiday colors to coordinate their contest decor. Color sets such as traditional red and green, wintry blue and silver, and candy cane red and white will give competitors a chance to use their imagination when assembling their displays. Contestants may decorate using the colors in their selected set. Judges can decide which team has used their color set most effectively.

Gold, green, and red ornaments

5. Glitter and Glow

This office Christmas decorating challenge aims to make the workplace glow using as much shimmer as possible. Competitors decorate with wreaths, tinsel, garlands, icicles, and lights to add as much sparkle and shine as possible to their workspace. Ornaments like foil stars, shining bulbs, glitter snowflakes, and metallic ribbons will capture as much light as possible in the displays. Artificial snow sprinkled on desktops can create the impression of shimmering frost. The results are sure to dazzle!

Glitter gold orb and star ornaments with snowflakes

Office Christmas decorating contest themes

From gingerbread to nutcrackers to the 12 days of Christmas, these contest themes will get office teams into the holiday spirit.

6. Gingerbread Village

Gingerbread village is a theme that works great for a cubicle Christmas decorating contest. For a traditional gingerbread village, contestants create gingerbread houses from kits. Then, participants can choose a theme for decorating houses, such as a cozy cabin, winter wonderland, or North Pole cottage. The teams can display their finished gingerbread creations around the workspace for judges to gauge their creativity and execution.

For an alternative contest, competitors can use rolls of brown craft paper to transform their cubicles into gingerbread cottages. Using paint, glitter, markers, and other arts and craft supplies, contestants can “frost” their cottages to create a complete gingerbread scene. Descriptions like Best Two-Story Gingerbread House, Best Use of Glitter, and Best Frosted Roof are categories you can use for awarding prizes.

Gingerbread house

7. Toy Factory

Teams can turn their desktops into Christmas toy factory conveyor belts carrying dolls, cars, sports balls, and other toys. If your teams work in cubicles, then you can assign each area a different toy. Competitors can use wrapping paper tubes, paper plates, boxes, and recycled food cartons to create mechanical displays with gears, wheels, and levers. Creative teams will be sure to include a few busy elves scattered throughout the factory!

Homemade paper Christmas decorations

8. Sweets and Treats

A candy-themed office Christmas decorating contest can bring out the season’s bright colors and sweet treats. Competitors decorate the workspace like a bakery or candy shop by using cookie sheets, mixers, piping bags, and other baking tools in displays on desks and cabinets. Contestants can cut oversized gingerbread figures from construction paper and decorate them with puff paint frosting to add Christmas cookies to the mix. Balloons, foam disks, colored ribbons, and cellophane can become enlarged versions of holiday candies to add wonder to the décor.

Two gingerbread men

9. Nutcracker Suite

For this office decorating theme, teams recreate scenes from the story “The Nutcracker” using Christmas trees, holiday decorations, and other imaginative elements. Competitors who own nutcracker figures can choose to create displays using pieces from their collection. Competitors can team up to create an oversized nutcracker for a contest focused on collaboration using boxes, paper tubes, and craft supplies. Finished nutcrackers get judged on creativity, engineering, and overall presentation. These wooden soldiers can stand around the workspace as guardians of holiday cheer.

Nutcracker in front of tree

10. 12 Days of Christmas

For this Christmas decorating contest theme, competitors choose one of the 12 days of Christmas to use as a motif for decorating the area. Competitors can be as creative with their décor as their imaginations allow. For example, a Christmas tree decorated with pears and a partridge nestled at the top makes a fantastic display for the first day of Christmas. Contestants receive prizes for the most imaginative interpretation of the given lyrics.

Gold balloon 12 in middle of stockings and other xmas decorations

Office Christmas decorating contest examples

You can add fun twists to your office Christmas decorating contest to make the task extra challenging. Here are some office Christmas decorating contest examples that will put competitors to the test.

11. Speed Decorating

Time is of the essence in this fast-paced office Christmas decorating competition.

Here are the rules:

  1. A judge assigns each competitor or team a specific office area to decorate.
  2. Each competitor or team receives a set of decorations.
  3. The judge sets a fifteen-minute timer for competitors to decorate their spaces as quickly as possible.
  4. Whoever completes the challenge before the timer sounds wins

To make them presentable for the holiday season, contestants can tidy up their displays after the contest to fix any mistakes made while rushing to finish.

An alarm clock in the middle of xmas decorations

12. Step-By-Step Decorating

For a more challenging decorating contest, a collaborative tree trimming task will test the team’s ability to follow written instructions.

Here are the rules:

  1. Using a pre-determined set of decorations, judges create maps for competitors to follow as they decorate. There should be a different map for each team or competitor. Instructions on the map can include tasks like “Place two red bulbs on bottom branches,” or “Add garland to the center of the tree.”
  2. Judges give each competitor or team a map, a Christmas tree, and a set of decorations.
  3. A judge sets a timer for 15 minutes.
  4. Contestants follow their maps step-by-step, placing the decorations on the tree as instructed.
  5. When the timer rings, the judge will examine the completed trees to decide whether the competitors followed the instructions correctly within the time limit.

Once this contest is complete, your office will have several carefully decorated trees—and a champion tree decorator!

Woman in reindeer antlers decorating office xmas tree

13. Decoration Grab Bag

For this office Christmas decorating contest, judges fill several bags with different selections of decorations. The bags can contain traditional decorations, themed decorations, or a random sample of unexpected items such as kitchen utensils and silk flower sprays. Each competitor or team chooses a bag and decorates the space with whatever the pack contains. Then, judges determine which contestants have used their ornaments most creatively. The result is a multi-themed Christmas office with a whimsical touch.

Sack full of ornaments in front of xmas tree

14. Christmas Movie Scenes

Favorite holiday films provide a popular Christmas decorating contest theme. Competitors use decorations, craft supplies, and imagination to bring holiday films to life. Each competitor or team chooses a different movie to keep the displays distinct. Contestants can present a memorable scene, create the characters, or fill the workspace with themes and motifs from the film. Then, judges decide which display best captures the cinematic spirit of the holidays.

Movie clacker near santa hat

15. Cozy Cabins

With this decorating contest theme, competitors use rolls of craft paper, wrapping paper tubes, boxes, and art supplies to turn their cubicles into log homes. The designs can include fireplaces, decorated mantels, and even rustic cabin décor like bearskin rugs and lanterns. Judges rank each cabin on engineering, coziness, and Christmas spirit.

Cozy xmas fireplace with stockings

Office Christmas decorating contest rules

If you create a list of simple rules for your decorating contest, then your team will know the expectations. Here are some basic rules you can use.

16. Set a Budget

If your office allows expenses for decorations, then set a workable budget for teams to use while choosing their décor. You can task competitors to come close to the total without exceeding it as part of the contest. If your office does not allow expenses, then challenge your teammates to get creative. Participants can DIY decorations, bring items from home, or choose to spend their own money.

17. Set a Time Limit

A decorating contest with a time element can be exciting for competitors and judges alike. The amount of decorating involved can help you choose a proper timeframe. If judging happens on presentation instead of speed, then you can extend the time limit. Depending on the tasks, teams may need extra time to assemble their décor. You can set aside a day or two for preparation or have challengers coordinate time away from the office to collaborate.

18. Choose Teams

Breaking coworkers into competitive teams is a great way to get the crew to collaborate on their displays. If your area or department is small, then you can extend your decorating contest to other departments to coordinate a larger competition.

19. Create Judging Categories

You can set categories for judging decorations ahead of the contest to clarify expectations. These categories may include Prettiest Decorations, Best Use of Tinsel, and Most Organized Display. Competitors should clearly understand the contest’s goal before the competition begins to plan their work accordingly.

20. Make it Fun

The main objective of an office Christmas decorating contest is for coworkers to have fun while decorating for the holiday. Making the tasks too complex can spoil the game. Contest creators can be mindful of team members to create an exciting and enjoyable competition while making the tasks easy to understand.


The most crucial goal of an office Christmas decorating contest is for teams to enjoy friendly competition while adding joyful décor to the workplace. Even a simple and inexpensive decorating contest can lift team spirits. This festive activity will fill your office with holiday cheer regardless of the theme or idea you choose.

For more holiday fun, check out these lists of Christmas trivia questions and holiday icebreakers.

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FAQ: Office Christmas decorating

Here are answers to questions about office Christmas decorating contest ideas.

How do you plan an office Christmas decorating contest?

You can choose a category, theme, or contest idea for your Christmas decorating contest. Judges for the contest can set up simple rules and guidelines to give competitors a clear goal. If your team is small, then consider including other teams to make the contest more competitive. Your team can buy or create their decorations, and judges can present prizes to the winners if your budget allows.

How do you win an office Christmas decorating contest?

If speed is the goal of your office Christmas decorating contest, then you can win by being the first to complete a timed challenge. If appearance or creativity is the goal, then you can win by creating the most presentable or imaginative display among your co-competitors.

What are some fun ideas for Christmas decorating contests for work?

Categories like light displays, gift wrapping, and glitter and glow are fun ideas for Christmas decorating contests at work. Challenges like speed decorating or using decoration grab bags can add an exciting twist to the decorating task. You can also use themes like Nutcracker Suite, Winter Wonderland, and Holiday Bake Shop for your office Christmas decorating contest.

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People & Culture Director at teambuilding.com.
Grace is the Director of People & Culture at TeamBuilding. She studied Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, Information Science at East China Normal University and earned an MBA at Washington State University.

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