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The best Christmas parties at the office have one thing in common

With Christmas now just a couple of months away, workplaces across the country are beginning to finalize their plans for the 2017 holiday season celebrations.

As someone who runs an experience company, I have had a number of interesting requests, between standard dinners and the usual corporate fanfare. However, with more people asking about ‘doing something different’ it got me thinking about what you think your best Christmas party at the office has been and whether doing something different has anything to do with it.

I used social media and asked for stories and, unsurprisingly, they all had a common theme. In addition to the common elements of being an all-expense-paid affair and being out of the office, people’s favorite holidays involve doing something they can’t normally do.

For some, this meant dressing in their best clothes, for others it meant dressing up in costumes for a theme party. Basically, you have to be someone who is not normally in the office.

Others spoke of parties with company traditions, but which had a slightly different twist each year. One worker spoke fondly of his secret Santa gift tradition, which always kicked off his festivities. What made it most enjoyable and memorable was what they did next. Every year was different. His favorite 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 many accessories and the like were gifted and taken on board.

Another employee’s story was about feeling special. One year, his office went beyond the usual three-course dinner at a good restaurant and opted for a progressive dinner where each place had a private dining room for them specially decorated with different decorations and an area for taking pictures. They said that the extra attention to detail and the fact that they had to go to some places made them feel special. Not only did they rinse and repeat what they had always done, but they thought about doing something similar, which was a little different.

In general, professional photographers or having photo booths were mentioned multiple times as part of the best Christmas office worker parties. If you have the budget, it is something you would like to consider as well.

With the common theme of ‘doing something different’, it’s no wonder that ideas for experiences like scavenger hunts, boat cruises, tours, and cooking classes are evidently becoming more popular. Just look at sites like Experience Oz or Red Balloon and you will be bombarded with options.

On the opposite side of the coin, some of the worst Christmas parties in the office were also mentioned.

All expenses-paid parties are a luxury for the private sector (and sometimes only for larger companies), but not necessarily something that can be offered in the public sector. Many mentioned this as part of their worst office Christmas party stories. One lady also went on to say that, in addition to the cost, she has had another problem since she worked in the public sector. “I hate that the public sector parties constantly judge you for every move you make.”

Christmas parties in public or private sector offices should aim to have fun and create a relaxed atmosphere for workers to have fun, even if it is not a total affair. By taking people out of their usual surroundings, setting expectations in advance, and managing the experience, people can more freely enjoy what’s on offer without judgment.

Another thing that emerged was for those who were self-employed, they did not have or only virtual staff. Though not traditional office parties, these folks generally host group networking parties, but again people found them flawed.

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

As you finalize the details of your office Christmas party this year, try incorporating something a little different, or give staff a chance to do something they normally can’t. This is one of the 10 key steps our company uses to create exceptional experiences.

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