6 Unique Annual Staff Party Ideas That Will Leave a Lasting Impression  

Small business owners and human resource staff know how tricky it can be to throw a successful office party. Apart from ensuring that the introverts among the staff don’t feel overwhelmed by a party that is too outrageous or requires too much interaction, you also need to come up with unique annual staff party ideas. The last thing you want to do is bore staff members by giving them the same old party hats, office punch, and bad finger food they have been getting for the last few years.

There are various reasons why you want to come up with great annual staff party ideas. Throwing a successful office party is a great way to boost office morale, which leads to happier staff, increased productivity, and improved employee retention. Since I know that your work schedule is already jam-packed with loads of other responsibilities, I have created a list of unique annual staff party ideas you can draw on when planning your next staff party. Because different businesses have different requirements, I tried to include diverse themes, including low budget office party ideas and Covid-friendly office party ideas.

1. The Cocktail Competition

This staff party idea is well-suited to businesses or departments that have a relatively small team of staff members, otherwise, the logistics would become too complex and your budget would hit the roof. Since the theme involves cocktails, this party would also obviously be well-suited for employees who are partial to alcoholic beverages. Although, I guess, mocktails could be allowed.

Precisely how you’d want to organize this party will depend on your budget and resources. The general idea is for small groups of staff members — varying from a minimum of two to a maximum of four I’d say — to enter a cocktail competition. Apart from making and serving their cocktails on the night of the party, competing teams also need to dress up and give short presentations. A predetermined panel of judges will determine the winners of the competition by considering the outfits and presentations of competitors, as well as the taste of their concoctions.

2. A Wine Tasting Event

You don’t need to transport your staff to a pricey wine farm if you’d like them to enjoy an evening of wine tasting. You can also bring the wine to the office or a party venue. Since you’d want to buy quality wine, and would need a few bottles of each, this party idea is also better suited to work environments with smaller teams. In addition, it is obviously a good idea to only host this party if the majority of the staff drinks and enjoys alcohol.

To hold this party, you will need a number of tables, around which about four to six people can sit. You can put some tasty snacks on each table, and also a pen and an answer sheet for each employee. The “sommelier” of the evening starts by welcoming the guests and telling them about the different types of wines they will be tasting.

They then describe the first wine, after which some servers serve small quantities of the wine to each contestant. Immediately after tasting, the contestants must decide which wine on the list they’ve tasted, and must then write the number “1” next to the name of the wine. This procedure is then followed for all the other wines on the list. Apart from presenting the winner or winners with a prize, you can also give a booby prize to the person who scored the worst.

3. A Murder Mystery Evening

There’s nothing like a bit of detective work to boost teamwork among staff members. Add some intrigue and suspense to your annual staff party by hosting a Murder Mystery Evening. Low-budget office party ideas include buying one or multiple downloadable murder mystery games online and supplying cheap props, such as hats and scarves. You can also provide staff members with their roles ahead of time and ask them to dress up accordingly. What’s more, this is one of those annual staff party ideas that can work in multiple venues, including your office if you don’t have the budget to rent a venue.

You can purchase games that will work for small teams up to large teams of 200 + people from various online websites. A website such as Murder Mystery Games, for instance, offers exciting titles to choose from, such as Murder Aboard, The Auction, Cudman Riding Club, and The Reading of the Will.

Murder mystery games provide employees with plenty of opportunity to mix and mingle. Apart from having a murder to solve, each character also typically has other objectives to pursue, such as keeping a love affair secret or forging a will. If you’re looking for Covid-friendly office party ideas, some of these games can also be played online by using a video app like Zoom.

4. Outdoor Mystery Games With CluedUpp

A staff party doesn’t necessarily need to take place indoors. Do things a bit differently this year by signing up for a CluedUpp game. CluedUpp is a popular geogaming events company that offers immersive outdoor mystery games for teams of various sizes. They also cater to teams with different budget constraints. Since CluedUpp is available in 1200 locations in more than 80 countries, chances are that there’ll be a CluedUpp facility nearby if you live in a big city.

You can choose from multiple exciting themes, such as Jack the Ripper, Witchcraft & Wizardry, and Sneaky Finders, which is a game that’s set in the 1920s and is based on the popular series, Peaky Blinders. The games combine elements of mystery-solving and escape room experiences. Participants dress up according to their chosen theme and must interview witnesses and employ their puzzle-solving skills to solve the mystery at hand. Teams play against other teams and games take place all around the relevant cities.

5. The Oscars

Those who are looking for employee appreciation party ideas can consider a glamorous evening at the Oscars. If the staff is going to be given recognition for their hard work, you may as well do so in style. Just how glamorous and glitzy you’ll be able to go with this theme will depend on your budget. If you’re on a low budget, you can still create a fabulous Oscars evening. You just need a red carpet, a master of ceremonies, and a few homemade Oscars.

However, if you have a few more pennies to spend, go all out and create a special event. You’ll want to rent a good sound system, order engraved Oscar look-alikes, and find a nice venue with a stage area. If your budget allows, hire a few musicians to provide some entertainment between announcements.

You can even get employees to do various talent acts, whether it’s a stand-up comedy act, a guitar solo, or a magician doing magic tricks. Staff members must definitely dress up for the occasion. Keep everyone’s spirits high by supplying a variety of small plates and a bar area where audience members can order drinks during the proceedings. Or, if your budget allows, take things up a notch by hiring some waitstaff.

6. Casino Night

If you’re a fan of The Office, you’ve probably seen the episode where the Dunder Mifflin warehouse is converted into a full-blown gambling hall. While watching the episode, I kept thinking that this is one of the best staff party themes I have seen in a long time. Staff members will surely not be bored and will have plenty of opportunity to mingle.

To make this party theme work, you’ll need a few bucks. If your office has the space, however, you can transform a section into a glitzy casino hall for the evening. You’ll need quite a few card tables, some bright neon lights, passed appetizers, and cocktails. If your budget allows, you can also rent gaming equipment, such as slot machines and a roulette table. If possible, provide some razzle and dazzle by kicking off the night with a showgirl act.

Hiring professional dealers who can properly manage each game is non-negotiable. Although it’s not a serious gambling event, you want the employees to be treated to the real deal. Each employee should receive gambling chips and a cocktail when they enter the venue. For that true casino feel, you’ll also need to hire a DJ to provide music for the event. Or, you can go all out and hire a live jazz band for the evening.

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Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

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