NYC Office Holiday Parties: Onsite or Offsite? office holiday parties

It’s November, which is historically when my business pivots from producing team building activities in New York City to helping companies create NYC office holiday parties for staff and clients. If you are on the committee putting this annual event together (or perhaps even doing the entire thing on your own), the process can be quite daunting – particularly with respect to answering the question: where should this shindig be held?

A recent story illustrates this point perfectly. A prospective client contacted me, interested in a staff Christmas party for the office. She had heard of TrivWorks, thought the idea of a live trivia party would be extremely well-received for her fun-loving competitive group, and the service packages I put together were within her allocated budget. She was all ready to go, save for one detail: the venue.

Her company REALLY wanted to do this offsite, which I understand completely – even though I tout the merits of holding onsite employee entertainment events, for companies with the means to hold an event offsite, it’s just not all that appealing to keep everyone in the workplace (I know that “Conference Room B” is an exciting place and all, but it’ll never compare with a decent restaurant or bar). I sent her our list of recommended venues which we have successfully held events for other clients over the years, and made specific suggestions based on her preferred geographic location, capacity and style.

However, I was told as week later by this prospect that they were going to go in another direction. The reason? Even though they loved the idea of trivia and felt we would create a great experience for their group, in the end they didn’t want to be bothered with finding a separate venue – inevitably, they booked a venue with a built-in activity, so that they didn’t have to think about it.

Believe me – and as I told her – I get it. I’ve been planning events for 15 year, and know firsthand how stressful it can be to secure the ideal space for an upcoming function, be it 300 colleagues or a dozen friends. Especially during the holiday season, it can be brutal: in Manhattan, there are only so many venues, and everybody wants to hold their seasonal parties at the same time: Monday-Friday (preferably later in the week), in the evening, at a convenient location, within a desirable establishment. Many of the most sought-after rooms are booked many months in advance, and for the hapless planner who is desperately calling around, it’s both immensely stressful and deeply frustrating.

As such, I truly understand the appeal of finding a 1-stop party place, to just book it and get it over with (we’ve done this the past 2 years for my kids’ birthday parties; previously, we’d find the venue we liked, and then brought in the activities, food etc.). As a vendor, there are really only two ways I can help a prospective client such as the one mentioned above with her venue challenge: A) recommend places, and B) provide compelling onsite alternatives.

Again, the onsite party gets a bad rap – understandably so. However, if you’re planning a fest and there are no viable offsite options, it’s taking up too much time & resource hunting down a venue, or you simply don’t have the budget to go somewhere else, then I urge you to strongly consider keeping the party right there in the office. I know, it goes against every instinct you have: but if you can do it right, then yes, you CAN have a great time which your group will fondly remember for a long time to come.

It was in this spirit that I decided to expand my offerings this past year, to include several compelling new twists on my trivia events to make them ideal for in-office events. The first is our trivia/mixology partnership with Spice & Spoon, where we will show up at your workspace not only with a trivia host and graders, but a professional mixologist as well to lead the group in custom cocktail creations, designed specifically with a festive holiday mood in mind. The second new offering, announced just last week: a hybrid trivia/karaoke experience, combining the best parts of what people love about competitive trivia and raucous karaoke. Both offerings are turnkey, meaning we bring everything needed (glasses, napkins, shakers & ingredients for mixology, microphones, projector, screen and music for karaoke).

Ultimately, the final determination of whether to hold the revelry here or there is entirely up to you and your group, and you know them best. The point I wish to make is a simple one: even in the high-stress environment of NYC holiday party planning, you have options. Explore them, use them – and give your hard-working employees and/or loyal clients the positive shared experience they need to stay motivated and happy!


  1. Dean Anderson on November 12, 2015 at 11:27 am

    David, the positives of an in – office party should be played up: first, there’s no issue with everyone getting there! Second, the cost really allows for more extras/treats for employees that might have gone for renting out a separate venue. Third, you know what you’re getting in your own space, limiting any element of surprise (or disappointment)! And maybe most important of all, it’s not the location that matters, it’s the experience. That’s the thing that people are seeking when they want to book a separate venue – something that doesn’t feel like work.

    Certainly TrivWorks provides a great deal of fun experience and a different atmosphere, just within the framework of the entertaining and competitive nature of what happens during an event, and this should not be underestimated! And as you have expanded to include karaoke and mixology, that’s even more true, now.

    For a cost-effective and uniquely engaging event, in – office might be the best choice of all, and TrivWorks provides the kind of party that people will be talking about and remembering until the next holiday party!

    • david on November 13, 2015 at 1:05 pm

      Dean – thank you for another thoughtful and kindly-worded comment! I’m glad to see you share my passion for creating fun & rewarding experiences for hard-working employees, be it onsite or offsite…!

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