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Meeting & Event Planning

Corporate Holiday Parties: Going Beyond Food and Drinks

Posted November 4, 2016 By Jocelyn Kerr

“A holiday party is actually the perfect time to not only celebrate the year’s accomplishments, but also an opportunity to review important lessons learned and to jumpstart next year’s initiatives.”


As we approach the holiday season, your next challenge may be to help plan the annual company party.

Let me guess – you’re probably a little worried about making the same mistakes again. Previous years have often resulted in employees being ushered out from risqué social situations and many complaints about why the food and drinks were lackluster even when the company met its revenue goals.

So, at Convene we wondered, what if we could help holiday party programming become more progressive, informative and experiential?

When we dug into the research, we’ve found that a holiday party is actually the perfect time not only to celebrate the year’s accomplishments, but to also review important lessons learned and to jumpstart next year’s initiatives.


Celebrating Generational Accomplishments

A recent study by the Incentive Research Institute found that millennials—all 55 million of them in last year’s workforce—are motivated by detailed feedback, public recognition and feeling purposeful in their work. Those surveyed said that, rather than a holiday party, they were more interested in motivational and inspirational events that celebrated accomplishments and provided coaching in a fun atmosphere.

That doesn’t mean, however, that a bar crawl will get the job done anymore. “Events are inherently social, so technology should also help the attendee share their experience,” said Kevin Fliess, VP of marketing for Cvent Hospitality Cloud, a digital marketing platform. “A Snapchat geo-filter unique to the event or venue, for example, is a simple way to resonate with generational employees. Some events even project these shared pictures throughout the day.”


Learning Lessons Through Humor and Creativity

The other side of the coin is addressing the challenges and lessons learned from the previous year—and how to move forward without repeating the same mistakes.

In his 2015 book, Utilizing Evidence-Based Lessons Learned for Enhanced Organizational Innovation and Change, Nicolas John Milton outlines the “Practices Worth Replicating” method, which uses lessons learned to establish best practices. According to Milton, this method of discussing problem areas and developing solutions can be broken down and simplified to create an entertaining group activity as part of a holiday agenda:

  • Identify a scenario where a lesson was learned, perhaps by telling a comical story about what happened.

  • Guide the group through a brainstorm of possible solutions—the more creative and interactive, the better.

  • Identify the specific lesson learned and action steps to prevent the situation from happening again.

Whether the group participates as a whole, or it merely serves as a breakout portion of the program, the interactivity helps people feel engaged and invested in next year’s solutions.


Regenerating Excitement on Day 1, Year 2

After the awards have been given and the lessons have been learned, we believe that you should also devote a segment of the night’s presentation to introducing a theme or goal for the coming year.

Corporate change management company Bain & Company found about 63% of a company’s goals for change fail because of a lack of communication between managers and employees.

Further, they found people who hear company-wide communications as part of their regular (i.e. stressful) workday only retain 20% of what they hear. In other words, don’t communicate enterprise-level goals via webcast or email blast. Instead, introducing a theme or specific goals for the year when they’re more likely to be absorbed—in a fun, low-stress environment such as an event.

Corporate events may be changing to meet the needs of the growing millennial workforce, but combining goals and a festive atmosphere can improve creativity, productivity and morale across your entire workforce.

Still Haven’t Planned Your Holiday Party Yet?

Don’t worry, we’re here to help. You can always call us or request space availability.  We have holiday party programming & packages that make it seamless for you! 


P.S. More Helpful Holiday Party Tips




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