A Veteran DJ’s Perspective on Holiday Company Parties. Some of you know me – some don’t. I’ve been a mobile dj doing namely higher end wedding receptions for over 24 years. Actually — ok it’s been 25. So, I’ve done lots of corporate stuff. Personally I’ve deejayed over 300 corporate parties in my career. It’s no record but I share it to provide some credibility to my forthcoming opinion. Here it is…
Hiring a DJ only year after year for your corporate party is lame. AND I’ll have you know I’ve done some crazy fun “dance party” company parties but they are the exception to the rule. I’ve actually told clients to hire a different dj for their holiday party because I was beginning to think the employees blamed me for their 5 hours of boredom. Here are some things I know to be true. Sure, there are exceptions but for the most part it’s right on.
1) Keep company employee parties short and sweet and move on. I think holiday parties should be 3 hours – 4 at most. I am sure someone will weigh in and tell me that their company parties rock and go until the wee hours of the morning and to that I say good for you. But for the rest of you — you know exactly what I mean.
2) Use name tags. It’s embarrassing for both parties when you don’t know that lady in the front office and you inevitably bump into her at your annual holiday party with your wife or girlfriend. Also, if you do have an entertainer he or she can personalize the party making it a much better experience when he uses names.
3) Depending on the dynamics don’t force people to sit for dinner. Have a strolling buffet and allow people to pick and choose what they want to eat and how much. Assigned seating usually sends a lousy message putting the higher ups together and dividing the ranks once again.
4) NOTHING is more awkward than having to dance in front of a bunch of people you work with during the week. Serving more weddings than corporates I can tell you that even “family” struggles with it a bit sometime let alone strangers from different parts of the company in front of a boss or manager they may or may not even like.
5) Consider NOT Containing people to a specific close quartered room. It’s one reason I think parties with something to “do” make more sense. Rent a bowling alley, paintball warehouse, go paint somewhere or have someone bring in crafts. Have something for people to do. Maybe divide up your groups so various divisions can do something together. Maybe the guys in service would rather go play paintball than do a craft. Maybe the front office would rather go see a movie and get dinner afterward than go golfing?
You just really need to put your “self” in the shoes of the people that work within your company. Having an obligatory annual event to display your gratitude feels like what it is. Think it through to show you really care.
There are so many more things I can point out but the items above stand out for me. This past weekend I did two company holiday parties. I had the great fortune of being at 2 different venues and peering in on several events. All of them either hired a dj or a musician. They were half empty within 30 minutes of the dinner ending and totally cleared out on average 90 minutes prior to the scheduled end time. “My” parties however went the full scheduled time. One went 4.5 hours and the other 6. Why? Well… and this isn’t a direct pitch for my services. It’s a pitch for doing something to keep it interesting and to keep people from feeling like running for the door after 15 minutes of small talk. Small talk mostly sucks let’s be honest.
At my events they arrived to an hour of cocktail music (no – not just Christmas music) followed by roughly an hour of dinner. And before the dessert was even dropped I had them pumped up doing a let’s make a deal bit “anyone with a green pen”, “anyone with a concert ticket”, “what about a pink cell phone case”? AND to keep the interest up I went immediately into “Give me two teams of 6 each – let’s play the feud”. I engineered the fun, I programmed it into the night. I didn’t rely on the guests possibly wanting to dance that night. After several games of Family Feud Style gaming, involving every single person in the room, I then did a cameo of “Minute To Win It Style Gaming”. By the time the games were over everyone had received a prize or 2 and I could truly sense they enjoyed their evening. It was perfect. People could hang close, change teams, hide in the back, laugh about silly answers and more. It created a conversation piece. When that show was over I thanked everyone for participating and closed a up with a few songs to end the night.
The next night was almost exactly the same except after everyone had played the games we went into 2 hours of dancing. So whether they left or not (and not one did during the game play) it remained consistently interesting, they had the opportunity to enjoy themselves. For this crowd the Family Feud Style Game Show was the perfect primer to get them dancing. The stage had “literally” been set for a fun follow up. They “got” that I was a guy interested in them having a good time and they obliged by packing the dance floor after. With that said… even if they hadn’t danced the night was still one hell of a success. They got a lot of laughs. they drank and ate – AND this was good!! No GREAT !!
So, deejaying can be a nice feature of your company holiday party but for everyone’s sake don’t make it the only thing.