The Best Office Christmas Parties All Have One Thing in Common

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With Christmas now only a couple of months away, workplaces all over the country are beginning to finalise their plans for the 2017 Christmas season celebrations.

As someone who runs an Experience company, I’ve had a number of interesting requests, among standard dinners and the usual corporate fanfare. However, with more people inquiring about ‘doing something different’, it got me thinking about what people think their best office Christmas party has been and if doing something different had anything to do with it.

I took to social media and asked around for stories, and not surprisingly, they all had a common theme. Besides the common elements of being an all expense paid for affair, and being away from the office, people’s favourite parties all involved doing something they don’t usually get to do.

For some, this meant dressing up in their finest clothes, for others it meant dressing up in fancy dress for a themed party. Essentially you got to be someone you’re usually not around the office.

Others spoke of parties with company traditions, but that had a slightly different twist each year. One worker spoke fondly of their secret Santa gift-giving tradition, which always kicked off their parties. What made it more enjoyable and memorable was what they did next. It was different each year. Her favourite to-date was a Bond Casino Royale themed boat party and many used the theme as inspiration for their secret Santa gifts. Something, this employee said made the evening even more enjoyable was that lots of props and the like were given as gifts and were taken on board.

Another employee’s story was about being made to feel special. One year their office went beyond the usual three-course sit-down dinner at a nice restaurant and opted for a progressive dinner where each venue had a private dining room for them specially decorated with different ornaments and a photo taking area. They said the extra attention to detail and the fact that they got to go to a few places made them feel special. They didn’t just rinse and repeat what they always had done, but put some thought into doing something along the same lines, that was slightly different.

Overall, professional photographers or having photo booths were mentioned a number of times as part of workers best office Christmas parties. If you’ve got the budget, it is something that you might like to consider too.

With the common theme of ‘doing something different,’ it is no wonder that experience ideas like treasure hunts, boat cruises, tours, and cooking classes are becoming evidently more popular. Just look at sites like Experience Oz or Red Balloon and you’ll be bombarded with choices.

On the opposite side of the coin, there was also mention of some of the worst office Christmas parties.

All expense paid parties are a luxury for the private sector (and sometimes only bigger companies), but not necessarily something that can be offered in the public sector. Many mentioned this as being part of their worst office Christmas party stories. One lady also went on to say that in addition to the cost there has been another downside for her since working in the public sector. “I hate that in public sector parties you are constantly being judged for every move you make.”

Private or Public sector office Christmas parties should be about having fun and creating a relaxed environment for workers to enjoy themselves even if it is isn’t an all-out affair. By taking people out of their regular environment, setting expectations upfront, and managing the experience, people can more freely enjoy what is on offer without judgement.

Another thing that came up was for those who were self-employed, had no or only virtual staff. Although not traditional office parties, these people usually have networking group parties on offer, but again people found them to be flawed.

One worker commented that these usually felt “more like work.” So again, taking the group out of a networking environment, and doing something different, something ‘interesting’, can be a great way to change the vibe and create a much more enjoyable Christmas party.

When finalising the details of your office Christmas party this year try to incorporate something a little different or give staff an opportunity to do something they don’t usually get to do. This is one of the 10 key steps, our business uses to create exceptional experiences.

By Jamie-Lee Howard