Despite the fact that you spend forty-plus hours a week with your co-workers, you typically only socialize with them in a fluorescently lit break room. The company holiday party is a chance to cut loose and leave the pressures of the office behind. But between avoiding your colleague who tends to get a little too familiar with the open bar and enduring another year of trite themes, it’s no surprise that these events are sometimes more “meh” than they are memorable.
Office holiday parties don’t have to be tepid affairs. With a positive attitude, some creative thinking, and a lively venue like Bowlmor Lanes, it’s easy to strike the right tone for an evening of out-of-office camaraderie. Here are a few themes guaranteed to liven up this year’s gathering.
1. Holiday Olympics
One way to get co-workers to relax in a social setting is to introduce some friendly competition. Giving people a topic to banter about that goes beyond proper email etiquette can help diffuse potential awkwardness.
Get inventive with this theme by assigning “countries” (real or invented) to different teams and setting up competitions like speed tree-decorating. Or, host an international-themed bowling party complete with events like “best/funkiest form.” Set up a podium and award bronze, silver, and gold to the teams that go all-out. (Pro tip: if your company can swing it in the budget, team T-shirts are always well-received.) This is an easy way to get everyone’s mind out of work mode, and it provides an opportunity for team bonding disguised as actual fun.
2. Like a Kid on Christmas Morning
Forget business casual, because this party is perfectly suited for a pajamas-only dress code. This event will encourage co-workers to channel the excitement of being nine years old and racing down the stairs on Christmas morning. We’re talking holiday cartoon specials on repeat, fun-sized boxes of sugary cereal, a White Elephant gift exchange (so there’s actual unwrapping to do), and candy canes galore. This theme will easily inject some lighthearted laughter into a sometimes-stuffy evening. After all, who can resist a chance to see the CEO in a reindeer onesie?
3. Retro Holiday
Pick a decade, any decade — we hear nostalgia is perpetually trendy. Go with a ‘50s sock-hop motif or opt for a ‘90s theme (every Millennial’s favorite) complete with inflatable furniture and a boy band/grunge soundtrack. Ask each team to vote on which decade to feature before you begin planning, and enjoy an evening of throwback-inspired fun (complete with epic dance moves).
4. Holidays of the Future
If your company’s manifesto includes the term “innovative,” consider hosting a celebration of all things Futurist. Sure, the holiday season of 2017 is pretty high tech, but what does the holiday season of 2050 have in store? (Virtual reality snowball fights, gift delivery via drone, and department stores breaking out holiday décor as early as mid-August are a few of our best guesses.)
To encourage creative thinking, ask coworkers to contribute an anonymous idea — the more outrageous the better — of what they think holiday celebrations may look like a couple decades from now. Display their suggestions on screens around the room, and implement a few faux prototypes IRL if possible.
5. Instagram Wonderland
It’s the most Instagrammable time of the year. In today’s social media-manic society, everyone loves a photo op. Not only will this theme give party attendees a distraction from work-related stress, it’ll also drum up brand awareness about your (clearly awesome) company culture. A few ways to bring this theme to life include setting up inventive backgrounds, renting a GIF booth, doling out props, and serving Insta-worthy fare (such as Bowlmor’s pizza cake).
Love the ideas above, but can’t get your company to budge on its steadfast “Jingle Ball” theme? You can still host an inspired evening of holiday fun with your buddies. For a memorable get-together that’s bound to become your new favorite holiday tradition, plan your upcoming party at Bowlmor Lanes ASAP.
Illustrations by Amrita Marino
This is paid content produced for an advertiser by New York Brand Studio. The editorial staff of Daily Intelligencer did not play a role in its creation.