Bad news employee party planners. Most of your coworkers don’t want to attend your company holiday party. A Glassdoor survey found that a mere 5% of employees view a corporate party as a benefit. In fact, a majority of employees (59% according to a planyourmeetings.com survey) look for a way to get out of going to their office holiday party. Yes, many of your employees will view going to their annual holiday party with about as much excitement and enthusiasm as an annual visit to the dentist.
So what is a party planner to do to eliminate the “well…I guess I am going to have to go” reception that the invite to the holiday party is sure to create? How can you build a little office buzz about this year’s party? The answer might be simply to cross out the “holiday party formula” that your planning committee has been using for years and simply try something different. It is easy to fall into the “this is what we always do” trap of event planning. A little “outside the box” planning in this year’s party may be all you need to make your party something employees will look forward to.
Eliminate the “Office” in Office Party
When we book Chris Linn for company holiday party entertainment, we are always amazed at how many company parties are held at the company’s headquarters. It doesn’t matter how nicely you decorate the building, how well you cater, or what fun activities you have planned. If you have to go back to work for any reason, it is always a bit of a bummer.
That same banquet hall you use year after year may need a break too. If your party has become so predictable that the banquet manager “pencils you in” for next year as you are wrapping up this year’s party, it may be time for a location change-up.
There are so many amazing “non-traditional” venues that can provide a welcome change of scenery for your event. You may be surprised at how many places have the ability to host company events. Check out your local museums, zoo, botanical garden, vineyard, sightseeing boat or amusement center (come on, you are never too old for a friendly game of laser tag or mini golf with colleagues).
If you still prefer a banquet hall, remember there is probably more than one that is within a reasonable drive for your guests.
Switch Up the Food
A four-course meal just isn’t for everyone. Many people don’t want to sit down to a fancy dinner with coworkers and their plus ones. This year you could add a little fun and flavor to the night with a gourmet food truck. You can choose one truck that offers a variety of menu items to please the crowd or try bringing in multiple trucks. (Don’t forget the cupcake truck!)
Maybe a daytime event would appeal to your employees more than a dinner. Hosting a brunch event would surely be a way to mix things up this December. It may give your budget a boost too, as many venues charge less to host a brunch or luncheon event.
Unique Holiday Party Entertainment
Give your employees something to do at the party. Socializing and mingling are not always on everyone’s list of fun things to do – especially if it with coworkers that they see every day. Scheduling engaging entertainment during the event is a good way to let everyone relax and have fun together, without the pressures of small talk. Bringing in an entertainer from out of town is a good way to make sure the show will be fresh and exciting for everyone. Entertainment that is engaging and has some degree of participation will help draw your guests into the show.
- “Clean” Comedians – Many company event planners shutter at the thought of hiring a comedian. Their thoughts immediately turn to typical comedy club comedians with acts filled with profanity-laced routines about sex, drugs, and religion. It’s an HR nightmare waiting to happen. There are plenty of entertainers who specialize in comedy for corporate audiences. They know how to get audiences laughing with humor that is still appropriate for a work sponsored event.
- Mentalists – A mentalist is a unique alternative to a magician. Mentalism performers specialize in entertainment that focuses on physical and psychological phenomena. A good mentalism performer can captivate even the toughest skeptic in your office.
- Viral YouTube Stars – You know that video of that amazing speed painter…contorsionist…juggler…beatboxer….guy in a balloon that your friend shared with you on Facebook last week? There is a good chance that they are available for private bookings. Hiring an act who’s video has been shared and talked about among coworkers is a guaranteed way to create anticipation for your party.
Escape The Ordinary
Looking for a company holiday party idea that gets everyone involved? Try an escape room. They are the latest craze and employees will have a blast as they work together – and compete against others to make their way out of the room in time. Many escape room locations have the ability to host both small and large groups. Quest Factory in LA hosts four rooms, including the largest escape room in the city. Start your party this way to give company staff something to talk and laugh about during the meal that follows.
You just got the attention of every parent in your office when you advertise “free babysitting” for your event. Afterall, when you invite an employee with young kids to come to your event, you have now given them the job of finding childcare for their kids for the night. If they are lucky enough to be able to arrange a babysitter, they will be paying $60+ for the night. Your employees are now paying to come to an event that is supposed to be about employee appreciation.
Truly make the event a worry-free experience for your employees by providing child care in a special “kids room” at your venue. Care.com and other childcare freelance sites are a good place to find professionals to supervise the room. You can keep the young guests entertained with movies, games, entertainment, and special a special “kids only” menu. Parents will truly appreciate the opportunity to not have to worry about a babysitter.
Company event planning is not always easy. If you are going to commit time to plan your next party, why not try to make it an event your office will (honestly) look forward to attending.