Celebrate Good Times: Office Parties That Don't Suck
As summer winds down, most of us find our vacation time has been spent and our in-office time will be accruing until the holidays. Which means: Everyone’s got the back-to-work blues.
So, if you’re a manager (or, even if you can suggest ideas to your manager), give your team a little pick-me up by planning an office party. (And not the Hawaiian shirt kind.) Pick a day after Labor Day, and try one of these fun ideas to rev up your workplace.
If being back at work has got everyone down, why not get out of the office? Gather everyone and plan an after-work or lunch hour adventure. If you have an outdoorsy group, plan a hike. If your company likes to give back, plan a beach clean-up. Or if you just want to get out of the office and do something fun, go bowling. Most importantly, pick an activity that fits your office culture—the point is for people to get excited about the activity and enjoy doing it.
If you’re having trouble deciding what people will like, ask around or take a vote. It will help you get more buy-in and make the day that much more fun.
If the idea of helping yourself to another serving of Shirley-in-Accounting’s potato salad is less than appetizing, skip the potluck and order in instead. Not only will this give people a chance to try something new, it lets them off the hook for shopping and cooking. And let’s face it, everyone loves a free lunch!
Have sandwiches, chips, and fruit salads delivered, and ask colleagues to join you at picnic tables or a grassy area to savor the last warm days of summer. Or order a variety of ethnic take-out entrées and set them up in the conference room. You can give everyone the option to gather round and share vacations stories over lunch or to make a to-go plate and head back to his or her office. Giving people the choice makes it feel more like the treat it should be.
While dressing up is fun at Halloween, asking colleagues to come to work in crazy outfits can be taxing, if not downright embarrassing. Instead, give your staff a treat and have a “Dress Down Day.” Sure, many offices have casual Fridays, but take it one step further and let people wear whatever they like to wear over the weekend—jeans, shorts, sundresses, flip-flops, whatever’s comfortable. Bring in a workplace comedy, like Anchorman or Office Space, and show it in a conference room during the lunch hour (or two). Have pizza delivered and give everyone a chance to relax and remember why they love working where they do!
Get Up… Late
If you really want to get people fired up about an office event, let them skip it. Instead of throwing another party where everyone has to stand around and small talk, give them what they are missing: a little extra personal time. Get approval for staff to come in to work an hour late or leave an hour early one day. If it’s too much to have everyone close up shop early all at once, stagger the days so that everyone gets a free hour one day during a given week or on alternating Fridays.
Whether you’re planning an event to reward your staff or just doing something fun for co-workers, having something to look forward to post-summer helps everyone ease back into business as usual.
Photo of party food courtesy of Shutterstock.
Veteran professional event planner and MBA, Emily Gladnick is currently the Owner and Lead Designer of San Diego-based Urban Garden Floral & Event Design. She lives in Encinitas, CA with her husband and two daughters. She loves whining and dining with her girlfriends, rainy days, and, of course, a well-planned party!More from this Author