The Joy of Producing Corporate Holiday Party Entertainment holiday party entertainment

I’ve been in this line of work for almost a decade, and this is the time of year when I suddenly start getting a lot of inquiries for company holiday party ideas in the NYC region, throughout SoCal from Los Angeles to Long Beach, Orange County to San Diego, and basically everywhere in between. This year in particular, there have been a lot of early requests for corporate trivia events, in places as varied as Virginia, Ohio, New Hampshire, Minnesota and even Alaska!

I truly love producing holiday parties. Of course, I love producing ALL TrivWorks events – however, there really is something special about these gigs in particular which makes them special. There’s the festive spirit, the cheer, the warmth and camaraderie which we all know isn’t always present in the day-to-day workplace. But even more than that, for me personally there is a special resonance.

You see, I never really had a fantastic holiday party experience when I was an employee. This is likely the result of several factors: me not working in environments where I truly thrived (or belonged), the culture of the organizations I was at, or simply the type of people who were also in attendance. I’ll be honest, with just a handful of exceptions all of my company parties really sucked (click here if you want to read about the absolute worst one).

Because of my unique line of work producing team trivia events for office parties, team building, employee entertainment etc., I’ve found myself in attendance at many, many holiday parties where I wasn’t an employee. I’ve gotten to witness firsthand the wide range of experiences employers from all sorts of industries choose to reward their hard-working staff during the season. I’ve been to ritzy events at fancy Manhattan hotels and restaurants, casual events in the office, even those thrown inside the senior executive’s residence.

Especially in the years immediately following the financial crisis, lavish company holiday parties took a backseat to more subdued, low-profile affairs. Several years ago when Hurricane Sandy devastated the Northeast, many companies – including several which had wanted to hire me as a NYC holiday party entertainer – cancelled their events altogether, choosing instead to donate the allocated funds towards relief agencies. Things have bounced back in recent years, but the annual rite of a company fete to celebrate the season is certainly not a stable given, as it may previously have been.

So when I DO get the chance to bring TrivWorks in to provide employee entertainment for the holiday season, I get a special kind of joy which is even greater than normal. As someone who was himself deprived in this area, I deeply want to give it my all and ensure that my clients have a truly fantastic, laugh-filled and memorable event that will leave a lasting impact. I devote even more time, energy and enthusiasm into customizing the trivia, as well as tailoring the experience as a whole to the specific audience in attendance to guarantee it’s a personalized event; that EVERYBODY gets to participate, gets involved, is engaged and, most importantly, feels appreciated and valued.

As a professional trivia company for corporate groups, one of the ways I’m proud of what we do is that we deliver a truly unique event experience. I’d say about half of the phone calls I get for office holiday party entertainment are from people who simply want to do something DIFFERENT. They are tired of the same-old, same-old; how many years in a row can we bring in a DJ, for instance? Or a photo booth, or karaoke, or a murder mystery?

Trivia is definitely different, that’s for sure. When done the way we do it, it’s participatory for the ENTIRE room, not just a select few who get to go onstage. And it’s not cheesy, either – a frequent complaint I hear from planners about previous corporate game show events they have put together. Rather, this is the holiday party: it should be raucous, full of laughs, a little boozy, a little edgy. And why not? For many groups, this is the one time of the year where people truly let their hair down, and get to know their colleagues – and reveal something about themselves – in a fun, safe way.

My goal with these events is always to balance a structured entertainment activity with socialization. This is a party after all, and there MUST be amply time and opportunity for those present to mix, mingle and informally get to know each other. With my events, I like to recommend a free socialization period upon arrival, usually in the form of a cocktail hour with music and passed or stationed appetizers. We want people to unwind, to transition from their office selves to their “real” selves, and hopefully get into the spirit of things.

During the cocktail hour, we can provide some casual entertainment as well, to help set the mood and get folks into the right frame of mind. This could include “roving” trivia, where our emcee works the room and engages individuals or small groups with fun “teaser” trivia questions, intended to get them excited for the main event. We also work with some great DJs, who can set the right vibe from the start before transitioning to the full-room contest.

The next step is to feed everybody, building the entertainment in either before, during or after the meal is served. There are many different formats for doing this, and depending on the size of the audience and the style of service (buffet, family style, plated, etc.) we may recommend one way over another. But in the big picture, we want people to have had a chance to eat, drink and be merry, BEFORE diving into the structured event.

Only after has the group had a chance to socialize and loosen up do we then like to start with the after dinner corporate event entertainment trivia. I love having so many different offerings these days: I only work with incredibly experienced emcees, however we can also incorporate elements like karaoke, magic, comedy, improv and more to enhance the experience, and make it even MORE festive.

All told, I just love producing these types of events. Even these days, when as the executive producer I’m not physically present at nearly as many gigs as I used to be, I still receive a tremendous amount of enjoyment putting them together, knowing that the end result will be a uniquely fun, engaging interactive experience like no other!

For more information on planning corporate holiday parties, 2017 and beyond you can follow this link.

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