Until this year, my husband's company has gone all-out on the Christmas party. (i.e. catering, dj, raffle, gifts, casino tables, open bar, hotel room included) This year has been tough, so they've decided to scale back.
Instead of getting the entire company together this year (2 states wide), the parties will be separate for each branch. What it's come down to is, since my husband is the manager, the party will be at our house (which is not big). The budget is $100. There are only 9 employees (the invitation is for +1).
We've decided the dinner will have to be pot-luck and have started assigning out food, except for the main dish. There won't be a lot of money left over. Only one of the employees would drink, if there were alcohol. Any ideas for making this a "party" and not just a "dinner"?
I've tossed around the idea of having a gift exchange, but can't decide how to do it.
The employees realize it has been a hard year, and that this party won't be like years past, but they've hung-in all year and it would be nice to have fun this one night.
I can’t help but think that there’s only so much you can do to influence the perception of other people. In the end they’re going to have the kind of night they expect. By the nature of your budget, any attempt to have a wild and crazy night planned will just come off as a pale imitation of years past. So I suggest taking a different direction. Whatever you can do to bring the employees closer to each other will not only make for a more memorable evening, but it will help them work better together too.
The best way to make people comfortable and have them get to know each other is to get them to talk about themselves. You can probably come up with some party games that will work for your size of group; games involving cooperation within small groups would work nicely. And there’s always karaoke, which works on a different principle: they aren’t exactly up there talking about themselves, but the shared embarrassment of singing in front of people somehow causes people to bond.
(Oh, and do whatever you can to avoid talking about work. Thinking about the future is only going to depress people, given today’s economic climate.)