What employees really want at a company party, from a real life cubicle dweller:
I have since upcycled my pinstripes and starched shirts, but there was a time when professional function invites darkened my inbox, the entire office rendered temporarily blurry with the collective eyeroll. We dreaded the forced small talk, team building, and awkward cheerleading we were in for. Now that I’m retired from the cubicle world, allow me to save you from this anxiety. Let’s design an event attended willingly.
Themes generate enthusiasm.
Going all in with a holiday or fun dress code automatically relaxes a crowd. It’s hard to feel the executive glare when said executive is dressed in a storm trooper costume. Halloween, The ‘80s, or Fantasy Island themed parties allow all of our inner ridiculousness to shine, and every entrance renders a chuckle. A Cinco de Mayo spread and mariachi band, Pi Day confectionaries and math themed party games, Prom Night get-ups and red carpet photos, all release inhibitions and spur active engagement from entry level all the way up to the corner office.
Go the extra mile with décor.
Company functions can serve a specific purpose, such as communicating objectives and celebrating victories, or simply to signal gratitude to your team. Thanks can be shown through wow inducing elements, like fine linen and glassware, sexy mood lighting, and cozy chat spaces with plush furniture. Something as simple as moving the location off-site to a more scenic landscape indicates the prestige of the event. And nothing says “We appreciate you” like a frosty vodka luge or ice sculpture in the likeness of your organization’s employee of the month.
Be thoughtful with the menu.
You can expect more RSVPs in the affirmative with a little care and attention to what is being served. A buffet and bar height tables for dining is all well and good, but plated table service and passed appetizers – nay, hors d’oeuvres is a can’t miss meal. Day time events call for a Mimosa and Bloody Mary Bar, with custom crafted signature drinks for evening gatherings. Take home sweet treats serve as terrific party favors, leaving a little something scrumptious to wake up to. And any employer who is sensitive to food restrictions is sure to warm any cold vegan heart who also happens to be gluten intolerant and has ethical concerns about almond farming.
Send them home with sore dancing feet.
Or hoarse karaoke voices. Or bruised knees from all that knee slapping. Comedians, professional musical acts, and caricature artists keep the staff awake and bonding over shared glee. Let them connect by piling into a photo booth, shoot them company swag via t-shirt cannon, and hand out gag awards only your people would get. Remember when Tina replied-all her romantic feelings toward Zeke, the new intern? That deserves a “Most Congenial” plaque.
The moral here is if you are hoping for eagerness for your company party, make it a party. People will generally attend anything that feels crafted to entertain and leave a lasting memory. Incorporate a few of these ideas and you can expect a full house.