May 07 2018
Lauren Hamer
3 Minutes to read

Time for another office get-together. No doubt, you’re dreading a forced conversation with your colleagues. We get it. Traditional office parties are usually toned-down affairs muddled by attendance that’s “strongly encouraged.” Management relies on fun staff-party ideas to boost morale and strengthen work relationships because it’s what the experts suggest. But for many, mandatory icebreakers and karaoke dance parties only spike the blood pressure of co-workers drowning in deadlines.

BBC suggests companies ditch “the tyranny of forced fun at work” and strive for informal bonding instead. This requires brainstorming office-party themes for events that people actually want to attend, what we dub the anti-party. Often it’s the promise of free food—a proven morale booster—that summons attendance. Luckily, anti-parties and catering go hand in hand.

This article vows to bring the anti-party to the office (’cause there are limits to traditional fun). Toss the rule book in the trash. Here are ten fun staff-party ideas that will help boost office morale—icebreaker trust falls not included.

10 office party themes for people who don’t like office parties:

1. Honorable mentions

It’s time to highlight your employees a la The Office. Forget “Employee of the Month.” Go with silly achievements like “best dressed,” “loudest laugh,” and “most outgoing” instead. Create your own custom certificates and present them with fanfare at an awards dinner. You can either go casual with a catered lunch or black-tie formal at a restaurant reserved for you and your guests.

2. Impromptu snack surprise

What’s better than a box full of puppies (surprise!)? A cart full of free food. Here, there are no RSVPs, no plans, and no pressure. Just an impromptu feel-good moment centered around snacks. Consider an ice-cream cart rolling through aisles on a cart midday, or a bagel and coffee bar the morning after a big company win. Stuffy party etiquette is quickly forgotten when people bond over food.

3. To the streets: Food truck edition

Trendy food trucks are popping up in nearly every major American city. Invite a few trucks to your office and allow the team to “walk the street” and choose a catered meal on you. Workers will have no problem ditching their cubicles for a social lunch with friends if you hire a myriad of local trucks specializing in farm-to-fresh ingredients, street food, or other delectable treats.

4. Escape room extravaganza

If you want to foster productive work relationships, try booking an Escape Room event. Guests are more likely to engage in pleasantries with their team when armed with a common goal—to get out of a room by solving cryptic puzzles and clues. Dinner on the house for teams who “escape” in time.

5. Obscure holiday party

What are your plans for National French Fry Day (July 13th)? If you must plan a party, then make it weird. There’s no shortage of obscure national holidays that beg to be the center of an office party theme. Employees are bored with routine Cinco de Mayo fiestas. Here are some fun staff-party ideas. How about celebrating national Margarita Day, Pi Day, or Talk Like a Pirate Day instead? Match the catering menu with the holiday and let your team embrace the silly.

6. Lunch ‘n’ volunteer

This gratuitous spin on traditional office party themes will be a sure-fire hit with everyone—especially millennials. Gift your team with an afternoon off and plans to volunteer at a local charity. Pack your team into a van (each armed with a catered box lunch for fuel) and set out for an afternoon of meaningful service with the crew.

Fun staff party ideas, Office party themes

7. Team Thirsty Thursday

People will be more inclined to attend a group gathering if you replace a run-of-the-mill team meeting with a casual, relaxed get-together. Combine happy hour with a team catch-up call. Let different teams host a Thirsty Thursday: they order the drinks and food they want provided as well as showcase their projects and other company news.

8. Good morning Joe (trumps those “fun” staff-party ideas)

Make Mondays bearable again using free coffee and pastries from a local shop. A quick Monday morning coffee session is the perfect alternative to traditional team building morale boosters. It expresses your gratitude for their hard work, provides a necessary caffeine buzz, and only lasts 20 to 30 minutes—an anti-party goer’s dream.

9. Now playing: The anti-party

One way to thwart typical office-party stiffness is to, well, get out of the office. Head to the local park or drive-in theatre for a cinematic night beneath the stars. Play up the outdoor theme with picnic blankets and pillows. Of course, no movie night is complete without the snacks. We’re thinking candy stations, popcorn machines, and soda fountains. What fun, these staff-party ideas, right?

10. A family affair

Get to know your team beyond work during “bring your family to work” day. Designate a few days when family is welcome at the office. Get creative. Employees are super productive when they feel supported and morale is high. Who better to help foster that type of environment than family?

Most fun office party ideas are informal, casual, and a bit spontaneous. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t special. Pair your next morale booster—err—celebration with good food and thoughtful office party themes. Employees are more likely to let loose in an environment that encourages collaboration. Just remember, traditional fun (you remember those tired staff-party ideas) is so last year.

Anti-office parties and catering are a match made in employee engagement heaven. Find local caterers in your area.

Start here

Written by:

Lauren Hamer

Lauren Hamer is a North Carolina based writer and career expert. She’s spent years crafting content for high-profile publications about office management, career, personal finance, and disability in the workplace topics. When she’s not writing, she’s still writing, usually creating killer resumes for job warriors as the Founder of LaunchPoint Resume.

Posted in: In the IndustryOffice Management

Tagged with: Catering, Events and Meetings, Lunch, Office Management, Snacks