Category Archives: holiday party planning

employees at holiday party enjoying corporate holiday party theme

Unique Corporate Holiday Party Ideas that Create a Holiday Buzz

These out-of-the-box corporate holiday party ideas can really shake up your company holiday party. If your holiday party has become stale, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and deliver a party with unique corporate holiday party ideas that create the office buzz.

Holiday party planning starts with a goal. What do you hope your guests get from the party? The goal should be specific enough to give the party a guest list (i.e. employees, employees plus family, etc.) and direction.

The next step is to choose a holiday party theme. A holiday party theme guides every decision and creates a cohesive atmosphere. For example, a jazzy holiday theme dictates the choice of venue, event time, menu, décor, and entertainment. This is a stark contrast to a Santa’s workshop theme in terms of décor, timing, and entertainers. (An entertainment professional can connect you to the right entertainers for any holiday party theme.)

From there, the event should start to take on a life of its own, especially when brainstorming ideas that fit with the theme. If you want to give this year’s festivities a new twist, add and promote these unique corporate holiday party ideas that pique your co-worker’s curiosity.

Memorable Photo Opps

Guests of all ages loves this unique holiday party keepsake. The theme and guest list dictate the perfect holiday character for the occasion. There are so many choices: Santa Claus, the Grinch, Toy Soldiers, Scrooge, the Gingerbread Man. For a large corporate party, hire a combination of characters so guests don’t have to wait to get their special shot.

Dinner and a Show

This company holiday party can be as intimate or as large-scale as the event allows. For a small gathering, invite staff members to one of Chicago’s wonderful theaters or movie theaters. For a larger event, bring the holiday show to employees (and their partners) together a wonderful gathering filled with spirit and networking.

Casino Night

A holiday casino is an adult party theme that promotes mingling and networking. This is an upscale holiday party theme that starts at the entrance with show girls, dealers, and entertainment around every table and station. For the full casino effect, end the night with main stage entertainment fitting of a casino show.

Throwback Holiday Touches

A traditional holiday is a party that takes guests back to another era. This could be an event with traditional family holiday details. A throwback holiday could be a nod to a specific milestone in corporate history and take guests back to the first years of the company or to another significant date.

Family Interactive Activities

This list of unique corporate holiday party ideas is aimed at parties with family guest lists. In addition to entertaining guests, these ideas also make great favors and photo opportunities. There are cookie making stations, balloon sculptures, face painting, gingerbread ornament stations, and other activities that kids’ll flock to. If the corporate holiday party has a large (and young) guest list, parents and children also enjoy magicians and jugglers who can customize their act to the holiday season.

Holiday at the Beach

A beach event is an unexpected holiday theme, but comes with unique corporate holiday party ideas that make it much-anticipated. Guests’ll appreciate the sounds of the steel drum band, the sea shell ornament favors, delectable beach-inspired menu, and cocktails that come with this unique party theme.

Around-the-world Buffet

If you want to leave the ugly holiday sweater theme behind, consider hosting an around-the-world holiday party. This corporate holiday party theme is the source of many ideas, including international games, entertainment, and dishes. In a large venue, guests’ll enjoy mingling from country to country enjoying unique tastes and sounds. In a smaller venue, those different tastes and sounds can be mingled into a diverse and coordinated affair.

12 Annual Staff Party Ideas that Gets Your Planning Started (and Finished)

red carpet entertainer with guests at masquerade themed charity galaEmployee appreciation events can be held any time of the year, leaving the door wide open for event themes. From a small summer office picnic to a large holiday party, the list of annual staff party ideas is a long and creative one. These annual staff party ideas are only the start of an endless list of themes and ideas that coordinate into an incredibly memorable event.

Once the theme is chosen, every detail should be carefully chosen and coordinated into an annual staff party that is the source of many water cooler conversations. The annual staff party menu (especially the main dishes), entertainment (contact an entertainment agent for the right entertainers that can put the event over-the-top), and décor should all be selected to fit with the event theme.

Country Fair

A country fair is a fun event theme because it comes with so many opportunities for entertainment—with food and entertainment! The possibilities for country fair themed entertainment are endless: cotton candy, jugglers, tarot card readers, magicians, popcorn, bands, and even stilt walkers add unexpected touches of fun to any company event.

Throwback Diner

This theme is a big hit with employees who appreciate the amusing atmosphere of a 50’s diner. Recreate the feel of a day at the malt shop with delicious sweet treats, 50’s entertainers, diner décor, and a band that ties it all together.

Traditional Holiday

For companies hosting winter holiday gatherings, a traditional holiday theme is a comfortable way to warm employees’ hearts and hands. This employee appreciation event can be a small and cozy gathering with carolers and traditional holiday dishes or a larger family gathering with Father Christmas and his many elves.

Red Carpet

Employees feel the appreciation when companies roll out the red carpet, and this is a theme that takes that gratitude to the next level. This theme requires all the touches that make employees feel like VIPs. It starts at the door with a high impact greeting, continues with a full feast, and includes all the touches of a star-studded event.

Holiday Characters

For an amusing change to the regular holiday office party, add characters to the party line-up. This one-of-a-kind holiday party theme can be customized to the office tastes or can included into a themed party. Entertainers like the Grinch, Scrooge, Toy Soldiers, or Father Christmas himself can take holiday party entertainment to a whole new level.

Tropical

The tropics can be the perfect break to a cold winter or a fun celebration of summer. A tropical employee appreciation event can feel like a getaway from the typical workday with steel drums, tropical drinks, and fun tropical décor.

Around the World

An around-the-world event is a popular theme with numerous ways to entertain. Staff members enjoy the chance to indulge in tastes and entertainment from around the globe; everyone can enjoy the benefits of a wonderful employee networking event.

Trivia

For a competitive and fun twist, host a trivia night or bring an entertaining game show to the party. This office party fun also comes with the opportunity for fun teasers that make guests want to come to this exciting event. Before the day of the event, send out sample trivia questions that build anticipation for this big contest.

Carnivale

A carnivale theme is a bright celebration with colorful décor, refreshments, and entertainment. A staff appreciation party with this festive theme should be nothing less.

Showtime

office holiday party entertainersDinner and a show is a great way to gather and socialize off the clock. For small offices, plan an outing to a popular theater and restaurant. Larger offices can bring the show to the employees by hosting a holiday show or a main stage entertainment act. This one-of-a-kind party entertainment can create a buzz that lasts far beyond the one-day event.

Sports Day

A sports-themed employee appreciation event brings everyone together to celebrate a local sports team—or just to celebrate a favorite sport. The big game can be celebrated with the best sports-themed dishes and a big screen.

Kentucky Derby Gala

This annual staff party theme is a wonderful way to thank employees for staying in the race. This event calls for numerous photo opps with jockeys, big entertaining hats, and refreshments one would expect for a day at Churchill Downs.

8 Unique Chicago Corporate Holiday Party Venue Ideas

aquarium event venue with tables, chairs, and centerpiecesThe foundation of planning a corporate holiday party is the right venue. While some businesses in the Windy City choose to hold their festive company gathering at company headquarters, others opt for a more creative off-site venue with all the holiday spirit and amenities there is to offer. For the latter, we’ve compiled a list of creative holiday party venue ideas to use—-as well as holiday entertainment options that boost company holiday party attendance.

Theater

One of our unique Chicago theaters can be quite the draw for corporate holiday party guests, offering unforgettable entertainment and the perfect setting for a themed holiday party gathering. As an added benefit, depending on the theater, this option gives companies the flexibility of holding an afternoon show away from the office or a formal evening affair. If the theater doesn’t offer entertainment during the holiday season, contact a local entertainment company about their options for a memorable holiday show.

Sports Venue

A sports stadium can be the perfect host for a one-of-a-kind event, such as a venue near Wrigley Field. For a more sophisticated atmosphere, choose a venue packed with interesting sports history, charm, and amenities. These venues can be pubs or a site filled with sports displays, such as the Chicago Sports Museum. To attract a more active crowd, opt for a venue with numerous gyms and spaces for activities that can keep guests moving and entertained.

Museum

A museum can give your corporate holiday party guests something to look forward to—and Chicago has so many wonderful museums to choose from. There are obvious choices, such as The Museum of Science and Industry of the Museum of Contemporary Art, or other wonderful museums throughout the Windy City that are suitable for an adult guest list. These holiday events can be themed to fit the venue and can be paired with appropriate cuisine and entertainment (contact us to help locate the right combination of venue and entertainers). For a family holiday event, pair one of Chicago’s children museums with holiday characters (i.e. Father Christmas, Toy Soldiers, Elves, etc.) to create a draw that employees and their families flock to.

Room with a View

The Windy City has some breath-taking views that capture the attention and leave guests talking even after the corporate holiday party is over. There are a number of options in Chicago, such as the Metropolitan in the iconic Willis Tower or the City View Loft. When guests are not enjoying the views, entertain them with one of Chicago’s favorite bands, orchestra, dueling pianos (playing holiday tunes), or a comedian that is as high-quality as the view (contact an entertainment agent to select the entertainer that fits the atmosphere and holiday party budget).

Historic Venue

Chicago is full of historic venues with unique details and one-of-a-kind stories. These venues can be the perfect site for a vintage holiday party. Depending on the venue, the event can be a jazz lounge from the Roaring 20’s or a classic diner party. Contact a local professional to select the right historic venue for the desired atmosphere and location for the target audience. Location should always be a factor when choosing a venue; this simple step can increase attendance and accessibility for guests.

Wine Cellar/Brewery

ice bar for charity eventsA wine cellar or brewery can be a fantastic site for a corporate holiday party venue, creating a unique backdrop and an opportunity for enjoying local tastes while networking. Add an ice bar to add a holiday flair while guests mingle and enjoy the local tastes of the Windy City. Contact an entertainment agent to locate the right wine cellar or brewery for the specific gathering, then follow up to combine a unique venue with exceptional entertainment that takes the event to another level. There may be some legal risk associated with holding a corporate holiday party at a venue associated with alcohol; contact legal counsel and an insurance provider to ensure that all bases are covered.

Bowling Lounge

A bowling lounge is the perfect foundation for an upscale and entertaining corporate holiday party. To find the right bowling venue for the desired atmosphere, contact a local and experienced Windy City entertainment agent. 

Aquarium

There is no other Chicago venue like the Shedd Aquarium. Holiday party guests are going to rave about the displays and breath-taking views of Lake Michigan. Guests can enjoy the sights and décor; to up the ante, add subtle holiday entertainers (like carolers!). For a corporate holiday party, there is not another holiday party venue like Shedd Aquarium—or a more memorable one.

Holiday Party Planning: 5 Common Mistakes to Avoid

company christmas party guests with santa hats by holiday treeYou may not be able to stop a snow storm or a belligerent employee at your next company holiday party, but you can set up your next holiday party for success by avoiding these party planning mistakes.

Choosing the wrong venue

You may not have a choice for your company holiday venue. If you do, careful consideration should go into choosing the right venue for your company holiday party (tips on how to choose the right event venue here). The wrong venue can feel too tight or too big, making your guests feel uncomfortable or like there is poor attendance. In addition to space considerations, selecting the wrong venue can also mean an event without atmosphere or without the necessary amenities needed to make your event a success.

Not compiling a guest list

Planning company party details without a guest list is like blindly trying to make your way through a maze. Without knowing the demographic and size of your guest list, it’s challenging to choose the right venue, select the right entertainment, and make other arrangements. Before you set any details, craft a guest list that can guide your holiday party decisions.

Not enough entertainment

As entertaining as networking can be, don’t rely solely on socializing for your guests’ entertainment. Instead, use your guest list to determine what the best options for entertainment are for your guests. An entertainment agent can guide your efforts and book the best entertainers that fit the bill—and leave your guests satisfied and entertained.

Lack of refreshments

Food can do a lot for an event, and that’s always the case for a company holiday party. In addition to satisfying your guests’ taste buds, the seasonal treats can enhance your holiday party atmosphere and create the complete atmosphere you’re trying so hard to achieve. To add icing on the cake, use entertainers, such as elves, to put your company holiday party over the top.

Thinking you have to do it all

There are a lot of holiday party details to juggle, as well as the budget. One of the most common holiday party planning mistakes is trying to take it all on. Don’t be afraid to contact the experts to coordinate the details and assist you making the right decisions (as well as taking some of the weight off your shoulders); it’ll make your holiday—and your holiday party—a lot more jolly.

Corporate Holiday Party Planning Checklist: 5 Must-Haves

holiday party planningCorporate holiday parties come in all sizes and shapes, but there is a basic checklist of must-haves for every corporate holiday party. From there “the devil is in the details” as they say, and the result is diversely different: a Caribbean Christmas getaway, a traditional holiday village, a night out at the holiday theater, a sophisticated winter wonder dinner. So before you start ordering table coverings for your corporate holiday party, sit down and start going down the basic checklist of corporate holiday party must-haves—or hire a professional who can.

Purpose & Vision

We put this must-have first because this should be your first step, and a definite must, in planning a successful holiday party. Nail down your logistics: date, time, budget, expected attendance, guest list, primary guest demographic, schedule (for invitations, save the dates, RSVPs, etc.) and theme. You don’t have to get too “themey” during the process but you should give your party direction so your corporate gathering is not a mishmash affair.

Location

Apply the same concept to your corporate holiday party as you do to a real estate transaction: location, location, location. Try to avoid holding your corporate holiday party at your business—after all, that is where you and your employees are every other week of the year. Choose your venue carefully: based on expected attendance numbers, budget, location, holiday party vision, etc. If you feel lost trying to choose from all the choices, hire an event planner to narrow down your options.

Food

Food brings people to your party, and good food keeps them there. Research your options to make sure that your event cuisine is more than just budget-friendly. Keep the demographic of your guests and vision in mind as you make decisions about the appetizers and cuisine for your holiday party.

Entertainment

The right entertainment is vital to bringing your corporate holiday vision to life, and to enhancing your guests’ experience. Notice the catch here: the right entertainment. Not every entertainer is right for every crowd; the right entertainers can take a fabulous holiday party to the next level. The wrong entertainment act can tank even the best-planned event. If you need assistance selecting the right entertainers for your holiday party, hire an experienced entertainment agent for recommendations. An entertainment agent can set an entertainment schedule for your holiday party and finalize all the details of your holiday party entertainment.

Atmosphere

Atmosphere is a must-have for every event, and one of the hardest objectives on the holiday party checklist to achieve. It’s also an intangible that takes a fair amount of skill and connections to create. Frankly, it’s not something that everyone can produce so turn to an experienced event planner for the perfect holiday party filled with atmosphere. The result: a holiday party that checks off all your must haves, wows your guests, and leaves a lasting impression even past the holiday season.