Jimmy Buffett famously sings, “If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane”.
Laughter is continually proven to be one of the best ways for employers to help their employees let off some steam, and planning in some comedy into a holiday party should be as important as picking a venue or hiring the caterer.
In fact, hiring comedians and comedy entertainers to entertain at corporate celebrations are among the top holiday party trends for 2017.
As the stress of work, politics, and news of the world piles on, there is no doubt that we will all be able to benefit from a few good laughs, come December.
Bringing the Comedy Club to the Party
Instead of offering employees an outing to a comedy club following a company holiday party, bring the club atmosphere to your celebration by inviting a comedian to emcee the evening and provide a short performance.
The idea of building humor into corporate gatherings coincides with another current trend affecting the workplace year-round: recruiting and retaining employees by paying attention to what they want.
One thing today’s millennials want is happiness at work according to an April 2017 report in Forbes. The magazine notes that this generation born between 1982 and 2004 values “benefits and atmosphere overcompensation.”
Forbes indicates that achieving this happiness requires good communication throughout a company and a “big-picture” sense of corporate direction. It also may depend on the company atmosphere that values a good, clean laugh that harms no one.
A February 2017 article in The Wall Street Journal noted that humor is an important element in creating this atmosphere and building “a stronger, more effective workplace.”
Seeking Clean Comedy
Whether chatting with coworkers on a regular day in the office or selecting a comedian when planning a company Christmas party, the challenge is to keep the humor clean.
Writing at The Muse, Jennifer Winter says to “steer clear of comments that can make someone feel uncomfortable.”
Winter, who worked in the corporate world for many years, and often writes about how to navigate its wild waters. While working as a manager, she boiled down her rule for workday humor to this nugget: Keep it PC and PG.
So, when hiring comedians for your company holiday party, consider whether their material would pass muster with the audience you must please and the Human Resources Manager you will have to pass in the hall in the morning.
Keeping Your Party Lively
A comedian can do a lot to entertain guests at a holiday party. But to create a lively atmosphere that builds corporate comradery, you need to give guests the opportunity for humorous interaction with each other. This includes icebreakers and fun interruptions within the flow of the event.
Planning Pod, a software company that focuses on the events industry, reports that one of the biggest trends and challenges for gatherings in 2017 and beyond will be how to compete with people’s cell phones.
The digital company predicts that rather than chiding party-goers into turning off their smartphones in 2017, event professionals will find ways to build technology into shared party activities by using the phones as controllers for games, polls and other content on overhead screens.
One digital ice-breaker to consider is the Just Dance 2017 program that allows players to use their cell phones as controllers that communicate their moves to video screens. It connects to screens with video game devices and can be manipulated by cell phone through a Just Dance app.
Here’s another digital idea: When it’s time for a speech by the CEO or another company leader, the talk might conclude with a fun quiz — including questions about the corporation — presented on a large video screen. Quiz software similar to kinds used in education and at corporate meetings lets participants use cell phones to answer questions.
Icebreakers can also be the old-fashioned kind that gets people talking with tablemates. For example, at a sit-down dinner, place a fun, unusual question beneath each person’s glass or tableware.
The party emcee can get the conversation rolling by announcing where to find the questions and explaining a few rules for the activity. You may want to provide a small timer for each table so everyone gets a turn to speak.
The Balance provides a long list of questions to stir conversation, such as, “If you were a city, what city would you choose to be and why?”
Not every company has a budget to host a big holiday “extravaganza”, but activities to keep guests entertained and laughing should not be ignored.
Something as simple as a “white elephant” gift exchange can be a fun and funny activity for smaller groups. In a “white elephant” gift exchange, each attendee bringing a “white elephant” gift costing less than a set amount, such as $5, to share with someone else. Traditionally, the gift is something funny or silly, but they can be something practical or unique.
When considering live entertainment at your event, you may not be able to afford to bring in a national act to entertain your holiday party guests, but you may still be able to find a local professional within your budget. NOTE: While you may be able to find “cheap” local entertainment, is important to still find “professional” entertainment. You don’t want to risk your entire party on “uncle Dave” who tells a few jokes and does a few tricks.
You can also control entertainment costs by booking the entertainer directly with the management company or through their official website. This will help you avoid online agency fees and “finder fees” that are associated with many large online event planning websites.
Hiring a professional comedy entertainer is an investment in your event. After all, the funny memories are what people will remember and talk about at the office long after the party is over.