How to Throw a Promotion Party People Will Actually Enjoy

coworkers celebrating at a promotion party

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine2.3k
April 15, 2024 at 8:2PM UTC

Promotions at work are an occasion to celebrate. Whether a coworker has just moved up the ladder, you’re rewarding a trusted employee for a job well done or a family member or friend is progressing in her career, it’s a nice gesture to show someone you care about this huge accomplishment. And what a better way to do it than throw her a promotion party?

How to throw a promotion party.

Of course, different contexts demand different types of celebrations. Here’s how to throw a promotion party for a range of scenarios:


Your work husband or wife just got promoted? That’s awesome! And, of course, you want to toast her success. Still, this requires you to tread lightly, because other coworkers may be envious, especially if they were gunning for the same promotion.

It’s best to run the idea by your supervisor first. If you’re worried about other people’s reactions, consider hosting the promotion party offsite — taking the immediate team out to lunch, dinner or happy hour, for instance. You might also do a fun activity such as karaoke or bowling. Another option is to get some snacks, bubbly and decorations (if you can find some that correlate with your industry and colleague’s job, all the better) and host it in an empty office or boardroom. See if your department’s budget will cover the event; otherwise, make sure you all chip in for the guest of honor. 


Like your boss? Enough to throw her a promotion party? It’s great that you guys have a good relationship. This event can be similar to a coworker’s, but one caveat is that it will probably be difficult to get a budget approved since, presumably, your boss would be the one to approve it. Perhaps you can go to her boss to work something out instead. 

Family and friends.

For family and friends, of course, you can go all out. Treat a group to a dinner at a fancy restaurant — the promotee’s favorite — host a promotion party at your apartment or house or even take a trip together, depending on your relationship with the guest of honor (the last one works best for close friends, partners and family members). 

Gift idea roundup.

Do you bring a gift to a promotion party? Well, that really depends on you and your relationship with the honoree. Gifts are certainly not required, but it’s a nice gesture for, say, an employee of yours.

So, what do you give someone for a promotion? 

• A card or note.

Having the whole team sign a card is a way to show a colleague or employee how much you all value her. It’s a small token of appreciation but a meaningful one. If you’re particularly close with the person who got promoted, you might write a private letter or note congratulating her. 

• Flowers.

Flowers are another small gesture that can go a long way in demonstrating how proud and happy you are for your colleague. A huge, elaborate arrangement isn’t necessary, but a simple bouquet will do the trick.

• A work-related item.

Try something your colleague can actually use for work or to decorate her office or cubicle, such as a personalized pen, a mug, notecards, a picture frame or another desk accessory.

• A gift certificate.

Have everyone pitch in and buy your colleague a gift card to her favorite store or restaurant. Again, this is a great way to show your coworker that you value her and want her to continue the celebration on her own time.

Paid time off (PTO).

If you’re the honoree’s manager, why not give her what she really wants — time off? Give her a day or two to relax and celebrate before she takes on her new role — it’s sure to come with plenty of challenges, so it’s important that she can recharge and prepare for what’s next.

Tips for hosting a promotion party.

How can you make this promotion party a success? 

• Have it on a Friday.

Try to host the party on a Friday so people can let loose a bit and not have to worry about getting back to work the next day.

• Plan some activities.

Work parties can get tedious quickly — we’ve all been there. Having a couple of fun activities planned (nothing too cheesy) can help prevent that from happening. PG Truth or Dare, anyone?

• Offer food and drinks.

No matter where or how you’re celebrating, make sure there’s plenty to eat and drink. Pizza, cookies and cake are always solid crowd-pleasers. Or, if the honoree has a favorite treat, bring it! If your company allows it, wine or champagne will help loosen people up and get them in a festive mood. Just remember that it’s still a work event, so don’t go too crazy — things could easily get out of hand.

• Keep it on the short side.

You don’t want people to feel obligated to stay forever. If you’re hosting it at work, keep the promotion party to twoish hours. If it’s off-site, you can play it by ear, depending on how the guest of honor is feeling.

How do you celebrate someone getting a new job?

It’s also cause for celebration when someone gets a new job, although it’s bittersweet. Your company may not want you to host an on-site party for this occasion (but if they do, that’s great), but you can always take your colleague out for a goodbye lunch, dinner, happy hour or other type of celebration, such as karaoke. And see if the department will cover the expenses — their employee may be leaving, but it’s still a nice gesture to show how much you all valued her and will miss her. 

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