I have been planning my husband's Christmas Office Party for many years. Before the great "recession," three years ago, we always held the party at a local hotel. I would bring the centerpieces, the door prizes, decorations, and game supplies. Most years, this was just to supplement the restaurant's decor. One year I brought quite a few remote control cars. They were racing all over the historic inn's dining room. We usually have a private dining room--so not to worry.
Another year, I found the "spud" guns. You stick the end of it into a potato and shoot the pellets. Yes, we had to pay a "cleaning fee" to the restaurant, but the staff still remembers it fondly.
For one event, I spent weeks trying to make a slingshot with those long balloons. Finally, giving up, I said to myself, "Hey, they're architects. They'll figure this out." They did. They successfully launched many bean bags at the target (and other things).
About ten years ago, I found battery operated disc throwers. I always have a table competition. This year's contest was to build a block tower that would protect their action figure from assault. The flying foam discs were EVERYWHERE. The waiters judged the tower structures. This game was repeated other times with different building supplies.
I had a Santa contest one year. They played games during the cocktail hour. I had boards set up on tripods. One was "Unscramble the Christmas Songs." Another was "Match the Santa to His Country of Origin." The third game was to draw a Christmas scene on a paper on their heads. At first, they thought I was crazy. I called out directions. Like: Make a floor. Put a fireplace on it. Put a tree next to it. Put presents under the tree. Put a star on the tree. They did such a good job of this that I taped them up for all to enjoy.
I've hired dj's, and other entertainment over the years. But the staff always remembers when I brought in a huge electronic race car track. We had black and white flags as part of the decorations, and big race cars as centerpieces.
We moved to my husband's office for the party when the "recession" hit. (I'm calling it that instead of a depression). We no longer had the money to treat everyone to dinner at a hotel. So, everyone looked to me to come up with something fun. So...I used the office equipment to my advantage. I had the computer guy project a big black and white movie on the lobby windows onto printer paper. (It comes in huge rolls in an architect's office). They have a BIG tv mounted on the wall in the conference room. I brought a Wii game system with tons of games. I had another staff member bring his large tv and set up Mario's Race Car in another area. We organized a pot luck supper. One of the partners cooked a huge turkey... (or his wife did). We had a battery disc throwers. I can't remember the table competition.
The lobby in the office is quite large. They saved the Ikea tables they used as desks at their old office. When they moved into a new space they designed, they put in a working kitchen/conference/party room. They push the tables together normally to lay out huge sets of drawings to show to clients. They move them away during client parties. The firm won an award for turning a fire lane (County Approved of course) into a garden that wraps around two sides of this big room. I'm giving you background for my next blog about what I am actually doing for this year's party.
Anyway, I have helpers bring the tables up to the front lobby. They are narrow (27" wide). I put two together to make tables of eight. I wanted tableclothes. Off to Ikea I went. Their sheets don't have a big border at the top. They are usually on sale in the winter. I use them as tableclothes. I normally put the large sheets of printer paper over them to keep them clean. Last year, I used the big roll of brown paper for toppers. I blogged about this. This year, I got tired of measuring and cutting. My husband gave me the okay to buy placemats. But sixty placemats adds up. So I went to the Container Store. They had the perfect thick vinyl shelf liner. I cut it to the length I want. I can wash these off and reuse them over and over again, just like the sheets. I'm not a martyr. I send the clothes out each year to get pressed.
Last year, my daughter, who photographs bands for a living, introduced me to a local booking company. WOW. The entertainment is inexpensive enough for me because they are not big celebrities yet. We have hired a jazz band for three years now. I tried out a Jimmy Buffet "sound alike" the clients liked for our last Margaritaville Party. For the office's annual Chili Contest, we hired a "Cowboy Trio." They were GREAT.