Copyright 2001, Michael McCann with The Business
Cafe. All Rights Reserved.
All comments should be directed to Michael McCann at
Who says office Christmas parties have to be stale? The “holiday party” is a great chance to mix some genuine fun and camaraderie. This idea of actually having fun at an office party came to me last December when I attended a holiday dinner where company employees and their guests were served by a cook individually at each table of eight – Asian style. Now I realize this is a revolutionary thought here - having fun at a company holiday party – but bear with me.
After all the guests had eaten their meal and before dessert was served, there was still plenty of food left to be cooked. Keep in mind, this food was going to be eaten then or discarded. The idea of throwing away perfectly delicious seafood, chicken and vegetables moved this one lady so deeply that she decided to do something about it. Nicole (not her real name) stood up and began to have a food tossing contest with others at her table who wanted to see if they could catch the food in their mouths from about ten feet away. This was done by tapping the cooking utensil and aiming for the person's mouth. Of course, the recipients have to be active participants by moving their heads to try and “catch” the morsel in their mouth. Naturally I had to participate for research because I knew I would be writing this article someday and thoroughly enjoyed myself. We were having so much fun trying to catch food in our mouths that we were too full for dessert. Now here is a real side-benefit of food tossing before the meal is completely finished – cutting calories.
Two senior-level executives of the sponsoring company were at nearby tables and appeared to be enjoying our escapade. I believe these two men and their wives would have liked to join us, save for the fact it may look undignified in front of those whom they were supposed to be leading.
My next office party experience appeared to be headed for doom, until our team came up with a creative approach. For our project team's Christmas party last year, Susan made a reservation at a nice restaurant months in advance for six couples. All the plans were finalized before we left for Thanksgiving holiday and everyone on our team seemed excited because our choice in restaurants was one of the nicest in the city.
When we returned the Monday after Thanksgiving, Susan called the restaurant to confirm our final numbers and learned that, over the Thanksgiving weekend, the restaurant had survived a major fire and would be closed for two months of repair. Susan quickly called several other nice restaurants in the city, only to learn that none were available with a private room for a Christmas dinner at this late date.
Our team met and decided that, for the six couples involved on our team, we could keep morale high and have a delicious meal centered around a progressive dinner theme. Actually the option of sharing each other's home and enjoying specific dishes at each stop seemed like a great way to create a stronger bond among our team. All the spouses thought the idea sounded like fun too.
Susan immediately went to work coordinating the dishes each couple would prepare, directions to the individual houses and the timing of each stop along the way. She did a superb job. The teamwork all of us exhibited for our Christmas party brought us closer together at the office and resulted in several new friendships among the spouses. With the overwhelming success of the progressive dinner, we may do the same thing this year for our project team.
This next event was completely accidental. I did not plan on Polish dancers coming to our pizza party, honest. The story unfolds like this.
When I was manager of a department, early in my career, I wanted to have just a departmental office party separate from the big company wide event. My assistant suggested this really authentic German pizza parlor and brewhaus that had a large party room with a fireplace and plenty of space to spread out and mingle. “Great,” I said and the date was booked. What the people at the restaurant forgot to mention was the night we booked the room for OUR party was also the night a Polish dance group booked the same room.
My department was eagerly awaiting this Saturday night party because the pizza and “spirits” at this restaurant were well known to be worth the drive to the outskirts of the city and we had just completed a major project and wanted to relax. All was going well the first couple of hours. The pizza and beer was the best and everyone seemed to be enjoying himself or herself. Then, some unexpected company.
About eight o'clock, unfamiliar people began to come into our party room. I was okay with two or three unknown additions, but the numbers began to increase. After about fifteen minutes (seemed like an hour), I approached one of the men that had just arrived and no one in our group knew.
To keep the story short, our unexpected guests were professional polish dancers who came to this restaurant every Saturday night they were in town as a group to relax and practice their dancing on TOP of the tables. That's right, they dance on top of the tables. The same night they were all in town happened to be the same night my group was all in town.
Well, I figured by this time that our group had enjoyed some delicious pizza and who knows what else, so why not just have one big party and enjoy some entertaining dancers who also want to have fun. That's what happened. There were about twenty dancers and about twenty from my department who danced the night away. I had no idea how to dance like the professionals, but we sure had a good time and it was great for building team spirit at the office.
Lest I leave you thinking that every time I go to an office party,
unexpected things happen. That's not my intention. In every one
of my experiences at office parties where the unexpected happened,
it sure livened things up and made it worth dressing up for.
All comments should be directed to Michael McCann at