Summer is really over. It’s true, it happened. Even crazier, it’s already October. The days are getting shorter, apples are all over the place, and the temperatures are on the decline and while the last thing on your mind is the holiday season (unless you work in the retail/eCommerce industry, then you’ve been prepping for this since Q1), the holidays are coming. That means you should be in the midst of planning your company holiday party… but if you’re not, because there are a million other things going on, there is still time to plan something special your employees will be sure to appreciate. Here are some ideas to get you started, no matter your group size or budget:
Use the space you have. From the start, this will save you a room fee, a food & beverage minimum (gratuity and admin fees add up), and transportation costs. But just because you're not leaving the office doesn't mean you should phone it in. The beer and wine taps, the free snacks - these are wonderful perks, but that's now the baseline expectation.
Kick things up a notch by getting creative with your catering. Instead of buying a bunch of booze or using what you have in your kitchen, get specific - go for a cider, beer, or bourbon tasting. Want it to feel a little more special, bring in a cocktail cart and have a bartender serving up signature cocktails. The same goes for your food. Cheese and charcuterie is simple and classy, but even better, a private chef can come up with a custom menu for your team. What about a raw bar (oysters are delicious in December) or dessert station? Whatever you do, be sure to provide food and drink for employees and have enough to go around. Collecting RSVPs, especially if folks are allowed to bring a guest, will help you ensure this and keep your budget from getting out of control.
Throw some music on and decorate your event space to get in the festive spirit. Get your team involved by having each person decorate their cubicle or desk area and offer an award for the most creative space. Make the evening interactive by incorporating games. Have employees volunteer to bring in their favorites and set them up as stations throughout the party. A gift or cookie exchange is always a fun way to get people talking and involved in some friendly competition.
A restaurant buyout may be perfect for your company. Restaurants come in all sizes and styles and with a buyout you don't have to go searching for a caterer or bartender, or have to hire a rental company to bring in tables, chairs, and plateware - the restaurant is already equipped to handle that. If you're on the smaller side but have a little more budget to spend on this, consider a private room, which comes with a lower food & beverage minimum. You can still elevate the experience by transforming the space, bringing in a DJ or other entertainers, setting up a photobooth with fun props (we're huge fans of The Danger Booth), and much more. You may even consider giving your event a theme and having people dress up based on that.
If you're prepared to splurge or have discovered some extra $ in your Q4 budget that needs to be spent before year end, you can really go all out for your team. Convert a warehouse space into a winter wonderland. Take over a museum like the ICA with its gorgeous, harbor view room or the Harvard Art Museum with it's old world styled foyer, and give your employees access to some amazing art exhibits. Offer a food and wine/cocktail paired menu. Bring in a band that will have everyone out of their seats. Set up interactive experiences throughout the space for your guests to explore based on their interests. Consider hosting a charity auction raising money for a great cause and allow employees to submit their own services or gifts for the giveaways.
If your team is on the smaller side, consider a fun getaway. Avoid a December celebration and use it as your annual kick off event in January. A ski trip at a nearby mountain for a couple days midweek is one example. You can save with a group rate and even better pricing by avoiding the weekend rush. Plus, you'll have the slopes mostly to yourself making it feel even more special. Have the team ski, snow shoe, hang out in the lodge during the morning and talk strategy in the afternoon by the fireplace, followed by a big team dinner to close things out.
Remember, what matters to employees is that it’s a fun experience, you're not forcing people to pay or give up their weekends, and they don’t feel like it’s an obligation. If you'd like some help coming up with unique ideas for your company or need some help planning and executing, let's talk.