Office holiday activities
November 17, 2010 11:53 AM   Subscribe

My office is having a potluck lunch next month to mark the holidays. We need some fun activities to get people in the spirit of the season. Difficulty: most of my dozen co-workers are middle-aged introverted engineer types. We’ll be joining a similar-sized business analyst team that is a little more outgoing. Some of the past years’ games include a photo contest, sweet tooth challenge (guessing contents of candy filled jars), charity raffle, secret santa, and yankee swaps. I like the idea of a photo contest with a funny topic where artistic merit is irrelevant.
posted by Dragonness to Work & Money (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Can't you just eat? Eating is fun. The rest of it sounds like torture. (And I'm an extrovert.)
posted by cyndigo at 11:57 AM on November 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

Make it optional, and make it clear that anyone who doesn't want to come doesn't have to, and no one will look down on them for it. If you want the people who are there to have a good time, tell people who don't like this sort of thing that they're welcome to skip it and take the equivalent amount of time off as personal time. (I say this as someone who has been accused of ruining a party for others because I was required to go and then refused to participate in what I considered to be insipid party games.) Let it be a party for people who actually enjoy this kind of party.
posted by decathecting at 11:58 AM on November 17, 2010

As someone whose office is full of middle-aged game-playing types, I have to agree with cyndigo, I dread our office "party" (which is a mid-day potluck with awful games like secret santa and yankee swaps) for months. Please don't subject people who don't want to do this sort of thing to this sort of thing.
posted by brainmouse at 11:58 AM on November 17, 2010

If you have to do something (and I hate these sort of enforced fun times), why not some sort of brain-teaser contest, ala game shows, with special engineer type questions?

Or show a movie.
posted by Ideefixe at 12:04 PM on November 17, 2010

My engineering firm has been pretty entertaining with little activities. We had a cubicle-decorating contest last year with some impressive results. My colleague and I won because our supervisor looks just like Santa, so we decorated his cubicle like santa's office, and we were his elves (the detail we went into was impressive). The Mechanical engineers did their area as the Workshop, with the baby toys department, the Games department, the sporting department, gift-wrapping department, etc. They did theirs all together one Friday evening with a good supply of beer to keep them going. Engineers can be pretty innovative with their decorating techniques. And you get pics of it all to show at the potluck, for a laugh.

Our HR girls have also been amazing at finding office-olympics kinds of games to play, like rubber-band shooting galleries, stacking golf-balls (that was kind of slow), kleenex-box curling, etc. They had to have found those online somewhere.
posted by lizbunny at 12:04 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

1) Yes, make it super-optional.
2) Build the tallest structure out of [holiday-related knickknacks].
posted by phunniemee at 12:05 PM on November 17, 2010

At the last office potluck I went to, we played board and card games. Just simple ones like Uno, Scrabble Slam, Guess Who, and even Candy Land.

Every table had a game on it and people could pick which table/game they wanted. Some tables didn't have games, so people who just wanted to eat and talk could sit there or they could watch others play.
posted by erloteiel at 12:09 PM on November 17, 2010

Thanks for the ideas so far. I should mention that all of this is definitely optional, so much so that people usually just grab the food and head straight back to their desks. Even the games were not played in person - people would just email their answers to trivia questions, etc, to a coordinator.
posted by Dragonness at 12:17 PM on November 17, 2010

For a staff retreat, I once asked each of my employees to send me a fact that no one else would have known about them, and then compiled them into a quiz. People had to guess who was whom, and it turned out to be surprisingly fun (I loved hearing people giggle when they started to read the list, then surreptiously look around to see who could possibly fit each claim to fame.) For example...

"I once weighed 350 lbs" - a guy who was currently an ultra marathoner

"I got arrested for unpaid parking tickets" - a woman who was known for being a total detail oriented neat freak

"I was born in India" - a blonde, blue-eyed guy whose parents were missionaries

This really only works in an environment where people know each other's names at least, but it's pretty entertaining. It's been a few years since we've done this, and people still laugh and talk about the quiz.
posted by HeyAllie at 12:54 PM on November 17, 2010 [4 favorites]

Play celebrity - you put a sticky on each person's back with the name of a celebrity (you can geek up the celebrities you use for your crowd) and people ask each other questions about themselves.

"Did I jump over the Snake River Gorge?"
"I'm Evel Knievel!"
posted by dirtdirt at 1:07 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

2nding celebrity. We do that at our office party, and while I was very suspicious beforehand, it turns out to be fun!
posted by grapesaresour at 2:52 PM on November 17, 2010

What about having each table build a Christmas holiday tree out of popsickle sticks and marshmallows, with points for artistic merit and points for supporting the weightiest decorations? :)
posted by salvia at 7:45 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

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