Lots of you seem to be reading the Meeting Boy article “Eight reasons why I’m skipping the office Christmas party.”

Well, as much as I hate to admit it, some of his comments are absolutely accurate. Unfortunately, of the 70 percent of companies that do host holiday parties, most don’t fully capitalize on the positive opportunities available from this annual event. As the meeting and event planners within our organizations, it’s our job to make every engagement with employees and customers positive, one they will want to re-invest their personal time in next year, as well.

We’ve got a client who does a really great job on their holiday party. A couple of really cool things about this event:

  1.  It’s at lunch!  We bring in a local caterer to provide a hearty lunch (read: not boxed lunches). The employees still get an opportunity to be recognized, thanked and treated to a nice lunch, but it’s not at a trade of their personal time. The employees will work a full morning then come to the lunch at 11 a.m. and be headed home by 3 p.m.  They get to legitimately cut out of work a couple of hours early during the holiday season. That’s always a win.
  2.  They host the event at an inexpensive venue. They have a warehouse behind their main office area, so last year we cleared out the warehouse and hosted the event there. This year, we’re using a recreation building at a local park. This works great for them because the park department is a client, so they’re giving some business love back to a client as well as having a convenient space for their event.
  3. This client believes accessibility is key. The CEO and other key leaders in the organization are present at the annual holiday lunch. When employees arrive, they’re given a passport of sorts with questions about company leaders. They’re tasked with starting conversations with those leaders and getting the questions answered. The employee to get the most answers correct by the end of the lunch gets a large prize such as an iPad or large-screen TV. The CEO has also been known to hand out $100 bills to those who start conversations.
  4. They believe in knowing the attendees and entertaining them accordingly. Most of the company’s employees are men and work on a contract basis from home. We bring in blackjack, Texas hold ‘em and craps casino games from Amusement Masters and the appropriate staff. The employees play casino games, earning funny money they can redeem for large prizes as gifts from the company.

As you can see, this company does it the right. It appreciates its employees but doesn’t make them give up personal time. It keeps the event within its financial boundaries by being creative with venue selection, and engages employees from the top down by offering a fun activity.

What have you seen that you’d like to share?