Throwing a Corporate Holiday Party in the Bay Area: Themes and Ideas

Every event that stands apart from the daily office routines is a chance for bonding, for cultural development, and a morale boost. Your holiday work party is a particularly important opportunity because anticipation is high—people are alert in a different way, looking forward to personal, holiday, and family time. This year’s event could be the most memorable if you swing it the right way and give your employees a reason to really get involved.


Whether you’re in the North Bay Area, Silicon Valley, or San Francisco, it’s great to get away and give your team a chance to get to know each other in a unique setting. Step one is identifying the perfect local holiday party venue [<–Link to Evaluating Holiday Party Venues piece when live]. After that, you can get down to the nuts and bolts of planning your celebration. We’ve pulled together some tried and true—and some unexpected—corporate holiday party themes and ideas for your Bay Area blowout.


Ideas for Your Bay Area Corporate Holiday Party


Classy and Progressive

Is your office a fairly casual one? Having people dress up for a fancy holiday work party could shake things up and get people in the spirit. Decorate your venue space with greenery plus white and gold features for an extra classy finish. You may want to do a full dinner or just drinks and appetizers, giving people the chance to move and mingle. When it comes to this type of celebration, think about including one or more of the following special touches:


  • Roaming Buffet: A fun twist on cocktail party finger foods is a roaming buffet. This unusual corporate catering option allows people to pick and choose bites throughout the evening, and it allows you to incorporate some interesting buffet spreads, like sushi, Mediterranean, a taco bar, and even a s’mores bar or other unique dessert options.
  • Wine Tasting: Make the most of our options throughout the Bay Area and incorporate some fine local wines. Our favorite vintages come out of the Santa Cruz Mountains and work really well for a wine tasting activity during your corporate holiday party. Just keep in mind that, in this case, you may want to choose a party venue with overnight accommodations or arrange for busses or other transportation from the event.
  • Cooking Class: A group cooking class is a really fun, still classy, activity option that gets your team working and learning together.
  • Comedian: For some memorable entertainment, hire a comedian. In advance, fill them in on some fun details about your team and even some inside jokes people will recognize that the comedian can incorporate in the show.


Fun and Retro

A throwback party theme will never go out of style. Experiencing reminders of the past also tends to open people up and get them in the party spirit, so they’re likely to be present and engaged, reminiscing with each other. The 80s and especially the 90s are decades that the current workforce can relate to. Opt for colorful decorations as opposed to the traditional holiday scheme. Geometric designs and decorations are a good rule of thumb, and the following activities can really help liven things up:


  • Karaoke: Prep a playlist of retro favorites. You might even ask your team to contribute suggestions leading up to the event, so you know they’ll be hearing what will really take them back. Bring in a karaoke set up, and let your co-workers sing to those old favorites together.
  • Live Band: Another great option is to hire a live band and request hits from decades past. Choose a holiday party venue with space for a dance floor and the band. Top it off with colorful lighting to set the mood into the evening.
  • Photo Booth: A creative photo booth is another retro option that encourages your team to get excited and get involved. And then they get to take home a memento when the party is done. You can even buy 80s and 90s photobooth props!


True Holiday

Maybe your team would most appreciate some traditional holiday fun. You could have a tree and ask people to bring ornaments and other decorations to add, so they feel connected to the setting and intention. You might want to encourage an ugly sweater dress code. Some other ideas that will evoke classic tradition include:


  • Gift Exchange: A secret gift exchange is a universal favorite, but it doesn’t have to be a wasteful white elephant affair. People can receive things they really want and really will keep with a convenient wish list generator like this one—and the same service will automatically coordinate Secret Santa assignments, so you don’t have to.
  • Wrapped Mystery Gift: Alternatively, you could purchase one or more special mystery gifts for an unknown person to receive. Wrap a gift up, and then wrap again over the top of that layer, and repeat the process quite a few times. When your whole team is gathered in a circle, have people take turns unwrapping a layer and passing it around the circle. Whoever unwraps the final layer gets to keep the gift.
  • Seasonal Drinks: Along with the usual party beverages, offer peppermint hot chocolate, hot cider, and eggnog too. You could also create signature holiday drinks for the occasion.
  • Scavenger Hunt: If your venue is spacious and has multiple gathering places, you could plan a scavenger hunt. It’ll get people moving around and engaging with each other. You can offer holiday-themed clues and incorporate riddles that have to do with details specific to your team.


A Corporate Holiday Party to Remember Starts Here


This is the year to break the mold and try something different than in years past. The Bay Area venue you choose is important because it can open up a lot of options for activities and atmosphere. Don’t be afraid to get some of your team involved in planning and decorating for the party to take some of the stress and pressure off of you. Some venues even offer coordination and setup services as part of the party package deal. When you focus on fun for your team, the whole process will go over better.


If you’re looking for more holiday party planning ideas and a venue that is versatile enough to suit your vision, we can help. Kennolyn is a unique venue in the Bay Area that specializes in private bookings and all-inclusive event packages. We’re ready to talk logistics and show you around our Santa Cruz Mountain getaway, so give us a call.

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