One of the most widespread improvements among companies today has been in the area of company culture. Ultimately, top talent searches for employers that promote happiness – in and out of the workplace! This has led to an increase in things like coffee and snack programs, company happy hours, and great employee benefits. But none of these things matter if there isn’t a sense of camaraderie among colleagues. Which brings us to the (sometimes) dreaded topic of office party planning. We’ve all been to our share of sad office parties with a bag of chips, bad music, and a total of five coworkers in attendance. To shake things up this summer, we compiled a list of ten office party ideas that will not only have your employees excited to take part in, but will also forge relationships resulting in an enviable workplace “culture”.

1. Escape Room

Escape rooms are all the rage right now! Planning an employee outing to a local escape room experience will be a major crowd pleaser. How it works: colleagues are divided into teams of around 10 people and assigned a room to escape from. Usually only given one hour to get out, it is a high-pressure situation in which employees must take on specific roles within the team to uncover clues and develop strategies to find the key to escape! The communication that will flourish among team members promotes problem-solving skills they can take back to the office. The Office’s Michael Scott shows what not to do:

 

 

2. BBQ Day

A simple and cost-effective way to get everyone together for a long lunch outdoors! If you don’t already have an outdoor space with picnic tables set up, designate an area of the parking lot and set up a grill and some folding tables. Those employees who double as self-proclaimed grill masters can take turns grilling burgers and hotdogs while others can sit back and enjoy the nice weather and a break from their desks! Being outside also helps to ensure that people sit and enjoy their lunch, rather than rushing back to their desk to get work done. At Corporate Essentials, we grill every Friday in the summertime to let employees de-stress from a hectic week.

 

 

3. Office Movie Party

A great option for either day or night. Is it a dreary rainy day? Your employees will feel groggy and unmotivated. Set up the projector against a white wall in the office for an instant movie day! Or get the team together at night for an outdoor movie night on the roof or at a local park. Pull out the bean bag chairs and stock up on yummy snacks and you’ve succeeded at pulling off an awesome movie get-together. Check out Meetup’s rooftop movie extravaganza:

 

4. Baseball Game Night

Take your employees out to the ballgame! Major League games can get expensive, so try going to your local Minor League baseball game. They are loads of fun filled with seasonal special events like fireworks and bring your dog to the ballpark. If you don’t have a big budget, you can usually find inexpensive tickets for lawn and picnic table seating. For big crowds, this is often a better option so everyone can mingle and walk around, rather than being confined to seats only able to talk with the people next to them! Your employees will love being able to kick back and enjoy a nice summer night with their colleagues. It’s like happy hour, but better. How your employees will be greeting each other the next morning:

 

 

5. Themed 5K

Enjoy the great outdoors on a Saturday with a themed 5K! Some of today’s most popular are variations of the Mud Run and the Color Run. Not everyone likes to run, but when you throw in fun obstacles and the opportunity to get messy, people love it (plus non-runners are always welcome to walk the course). Fun 5K’s such as these tend to be great social gatherings with food, drinks, and music – a great way to let your employees bond outside of the office. The Corporate Essentials team participated in the “Color Vibe” in Morristown, NJ in June and had a blast!

 

 

6. Charity Day

Not exactly a “party”, but this is an awesome opportunity for employees to work together for good local causes and for your company to give back to the community. One great idea is to help out at a local soup kitchen or food bank. You can divide employees into teams to make things a tad competitive and see who can make the most meals. This is an awesome way for employees to strategize and work together to reach a common goal – building relationships with people they might not have gotten to know otherwise. Charity days are great because they are seen as a “break from work”, but employees get the chance to do something good for others and feel good about it after!

 

charity day

 

7. Sports League

This is an on-going party of sorts. For some people, mingling at a happy hour is simply not their thing. Organizing an office sports league for co-workers is a fantastic way to support health and fitness, while the competition builds a sense of camaraderie between teammates. Larger companies may have enough interest to build out their own league within the company, whereas smaller companies can easily find company leagues to join in their area. Adult intramural sports can range from favorite pastimes like football and basketball, to rec games like kickball and dodgeball. Whatever you choose, sports leagues are a fun way to break up a long week and will give co-workers something to talk about in their free time! Not athletic? There’s always a position open for “Biggest Fan”:

 

8. Halloween Party

Halloween is always fun for kids with trick or treating, costumes and decorations – why not bring that into the office? Go all out this year for the office Halloween party! First things first, you have to hype it up. A company-wide email won’t cut it – start talking about the party with people from different departments, asking about their costume choices to get people excited and motivated to look the best. Head over to the dollar store to pick up some spooky decorations to set the mood. Nothing says Halloween like cobwebs strewn all over the office – our Marketing Director even bought a dancing mummy that sang “Fireball” for her desk! Another key component to a good Halloween party is … you probably guessed it… a potluck! This is a fun way for everyone to get involved, be creative and have some delicious food. Check out this article “Scary Halloween Appetizers” for some inspiration. Surprise your employees in the afternoon with a pumpkin decorating contest – no carving necessary, all you need is some paint, glitter, and anything glue-able and you’re all set. End the day with a piñata filled with delicious candy and judgment of the costume contest and you’ve got one excellent Halloween party for the books!

 

halloween party

9. Scavenger Hunt

Taking into account weather and office size, whether indoors or outdoors a scavenger hunt with your coworkers is an awesome way to de-stress from a crazy week. Gather a couple of creative minds from the office and have them draft a list of clues to send your employees on a mission. Splitting into random teams is a good way to get people together who wouldn’t have had a reason to get to know each other otherwise. If you have a large office or corporate grounds it may be easier to stay on the property. For smaller companies, we recommend heading downtown and exploring the outdoors and landmarks in your town! Have everyone take pictures when they solve a clue and come back after an allotted period of time. Each team can present their pictures at the office and show off the great time they had. The best part of the scavenger hunt is that clues can be interpreted in different ways and it’s always so fun to see the out of the box thinking some employees come back with!

 

10. Celebrate an Odd National Holiday

A common trend in the world of social media has been to celebrate totally random “national” holidays. For instance, did you know that August 2nd is National Ice Cream Sandwich Day? Or that August 26th is National Dog Appreciation Day? Bring these quirky national holidays to life by celebrating them with an office party! What better way to bring people together than a build-your-own ice cream sandwich buffet in the break room? This type of party is not only easy to plan but will leave your coworkers feeling appreciated. Browse this calendar of national holidays for ideas. For those of you that didn’t know, June 18th was International Picnic Day. At Corporate Essentials, we went all out and our catering team put out a spread of picnic favorites! It was a total hit and brought people together for lunch rather than everyone doing their own thing.

 

Rachel Cusack

About Rachel Cusack

With a passion for the creative side of the business world, Rachel graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing. Through many years in customer service roles, she has developed strong people skills and an interest in how consumers interact with brands. Rachel strives to bring her experience in digital marketing and events to her role as a Marketing Associate at Corporate Essentials. She believes that life is just better with a cup of coffee and a great office culture is the first step in maximizing employee happiness.