It is November 7. Blink and it will be Christmas.

Christmas means holiday parties. You’re probably dreading your work holiday party. The dread of this party knows no boundaries. From the CEO to the CEO’s assistant, to the manager, to the part-timer, does anyone really want to go? And why don’t we want to go?

I’ll tell you why. Because you have to go spend time with the people that you already are spending upwards of 40 hours a week with. It will be the same cliques sitting together. Same boring dinner. Same, same, same.

All anyone wants out of their holiday party is to be APPRECIATED and to create a memory, hopefully. They also want to get to know the people they work with in a capacity other than work. We are all just people, right? Whether you are the one running the company or you are punching a timecard at that company, we are all the same.

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Been there, done that. Image credit: www.blacknbougie.com

I consulted Erin Patrick from Across the Board Events, a local event planner, about how to re-invent your holiday work party. She’s seen it all and has some great advice.

So, how to create these moments.  There are two major components to this recipe.

Do not try to do the holiday party yourself.

Nobody wins when you do it yourself. It will be someone’s full-time job to plan this soiree and that person will not enjoy it in any form. Hire it out, within your company’s budget, and let someone else take care of the details. It is less expensive and less stressful than you think. An event planner will stay within your necessary budget and handle every detail, from decor to food, to checking-in, to activities.

Create a moment by doing something different in a different venue.

People are craving experiences. They want to relate and get to know their co-workers in meaningful ways. Here are three great ideas:

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Boy, these people look like tons of fun. Image credit: brokerbanker.com

GROUP ACTIVITY

A group glass-ornament blowing class at Glassworks is one of Erin’s suggestions. She also says it’s great to follow up the class with a meal or a drink afterwards. Another great group activity would be to all take a cooking class together, where the group cooks and then eats what they made. This can be done during the day or after-hours. Either way, you are doing something different from your normal work activities and getting to know each other.

FUN VENUE

Instead of a stuffy ballroom at a hotel, what if you had your event at Slugger Field. Cocktails could be on the field and followed dinner up in the suites. Another great venue is Huber’s, either for the office or for the employees and their families. This makes the party a field trip combined with a fun venue and a group activity.

Or, you don’t even need the dinner portion. There is no rule saying you have to do a sit-down dinner anywhere. Get creative with where and what you are eating and people will appreciate that.

GOOD OLD-FASHIONED POTLUCK

Who doesn’t love a potluck?  Make your potluck special by making it a theme, or even a competition with awards handed out at the end. (Chili cook off anyone?) People do their best “work” at a potluck. The best part of a potluck is that you can drop in or out at your leisure. You could also have it done in courses, with appetizer, main and desserts coming at separate times.

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Clear, concise and to the point. A perfect invite. Image credit: gawker.com

Your goal is to have your holiday party to be so impactful and such a great experience that people actually look forward to it every year. This is not achieved with a lot of money, it is achieved with attention and thought.

Not to scare you, but it is November 7, and venues are booking up fast. So put this party on your radar. Cheers to you!

Thank you to Erin Patrick and Ashley Yann from Across the Board Events. Give yourself a break this holiday and let her plan your party. Erin can be reached at 767-6234 or via email at erin.patrick.atb@gmail.com.

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Erin Patrick and Ashley Yann from Across the Board Events. Image credit: Across the Board Events.