Retreat Center Dedham. It’s a long and glorious tradition- The Office Holiday Party. Hosting a party for colleagues, employees, partners, vendors and other stakeholders is a wonderful way to appreciate the people you work with and for. It’s an ideal time to provide a low-pressure environment for communication among all levels and across departments. A truly well-managed party also gives everyone a chance to let their guard down and have fun with the people they spend most of every day with. If the prospect of having fun together isn’t enough, consider this: over 90% of institutions, organizations, and companies throw holiday parties because they realize how they translate into improved productivity and a positive sense of camaraderie.
Providing the right context for co-workers to gather and share a no-expectations evening or a day can be a cornerstone of an effective human resources plan for higher morale and greater work enjoyment. Here are some ideas for your holiday party this year, from your Retreat Center Dedham- MIT’s Endicott House:
Choose a Unique Location
Let the setting be the life of the party! Streamers and balloons can only do so much in a hotel ballroom or your office meeting rooms. Imagine your time-tested office party complete with boughs of holly and a decorated evergreen in your office conference room. Now imagine it in a 1920’s-era mansion on beautifully landscaped grounds in suburban Boston. Make it fun simply by a change of scenery. An impressive venue that is worlds away from all the city madness has an adventurous feel that will make it more exciting than usual to attend. Make it easy by organizing transportation in groups so the party can start before they arrive!
With the onset of the Selfie and the convenience of mobile phone cameras, it is hard to remember when you last had a decent photo shoot with an actual professional photographer. Is there a hobbyist on your staff that has a passion for taking photos? Hire him or her or a known local photographer. The resulting photos will serve as reminders of the moments shared by your crew. Consider setting up a photo booth complete with a hilarious backdrops and props.
It’s so much more fun to pretend to be the next American Idol than just watching the show. High quality Karaoke machines with speakers and onscreen lyrics can be rented, or bring in a DJ to help out. Obviously, some people will be wary of stepping on stage, but everyone will participate as enthusiastic audience members. Make it optional but have the more outgoing members to encourage them into getting involved. Besides being a great team building activity, karaoke is a fun way of getting your employees into breaking out of their shells.
Sneak in Some Team Development
You’re all together at the office holiday party- it can’t help but build a sense of team, but be careful to avoid making it feel like the party is being used as a platform to reinforce company policies. Introduce some ice breaker-type games at the start of the event to get conversation flowing; just enough structure to help get things going, but not forcing it. Participatory games, discussion talking points or idea sharing are possibilities. What can you do to help break the silos and open communication between diverse areas of your business?
Of course you need to consider your budget, but a celebrity appearance might be add an extra something to your party. Find a way to get a sense of the right kind of well-known personality to invite for your context. Stand-up comedians and musicians are a good place to start, as they can perform, then mingle with your group. A local sports or media hero could also be a welcome attraction. Just make sure that you plan well how they will engage with the audience.A book signing and Q&A? A speech? An interview? A demonstration? Don’t forget to leave time for the photo booth!
Incorporate a Special Cause
Giving is a natural part of almost any holiday season. Your holiday party can provide an opportunity to support the charitable projects your company participates in. Invite some representatives of the group or cause that you support and have fun together. Make time for a response, financially or otherwise. While it’s fine to pat yourselves on the backs for a profitable year, it’s even better to show your influence on the greater good.
Hand out Some Gifts
There are so many creative and fun ways to give and receive at a holiday party. Bidding on gift baskets, or holding a raffle that benefits your community service projects is a way to build anticipation for going home with something nice. You might also merge this with special awards for employees who deserve some recognition. The giving of gifts is appropriate for almost any holiday tradition, and Santa Claus has become a somewhat faith-neutral character, but don’t forget that you might have a wide variety of traditions represented at your party.
Here at the Endicott House, we’re known for an event we call our “Whiskey Dinner.” Tasting the wide varieties of whiskeys from all over the world has proven to be a very enjoyable and educational event. Perhaps you might bring in a sommelier to introduce some wines of different types and origins. Or locally crafted beers might be appropriate. Tea has also become a popular beverage in addition to coffees from all over the globe. What about a contest for the best chocolate chip cookies or fruitcake?
Here at MIT’s Endicott House, we can’t wait to host your holiday parties! They are always a fun time made all the better by the mansion and grounds. Contact us today to talk about possibilities at Endicott House.