Office parties are a staple of work life, whether you work at a busy factory, a retail store, or a traditional office. Office get-togethers allow employees to mingle in a relaxing atmosphere, and they reward success and recognize achievement.

Despite the chance for company-funded fun, though, many people dread office parties, thinking of them as boring or an encroachment on their personal time.

You can turn your next work event into a celebration everyone will want to attend by picking an unexpected theme and executing it expertly. Use the themes and tips below as inspiration.

1. International Spy Society

Do you want to infuse your party with excitement and intrigue? Make everyone in your company a spy for the evening! Deliver invitations in manila envelopes marked “Confidential” in red.

Assign everyone a code name that corresponds to the table where they should sit. Inform guests to dress in either fancy, near-black-tie attire or casual “undercover” wear.

Once your attendees arrive, keep them well fed and entertained. Set up a photo booth with disguises and secret agent props: sleek sunglasses, mustaches, and trench coats.

Hire a caterer to prepare and serve platters of tasty, bite-sized hors d’oeuvres, and set up a bar that serves mixed drinks (either alcoholic or non-alcoholic).

Finally, don’t forget about the atmosphere. Choose a venue where you can display a few rented sports cars for guests to admire and use as a photo backdrop. You could also hire stunt performers to enact a scene that feels straight out of a spy thriller.

2. Old Hollywood Glamour

If you want your party to be a bit fancier than a typical work day, plan a party that feels like a movie premiere in the early days of Hollywood.

Guests will come in suits or dresses to walk a red carpet into a grand ballroom where the big event takes place. Mark assigned seating with personalized “Walk of Fame” stars on each chair.

Every guest should feel like a film star or a Hollywood big shot at the event-but they should also be able to mingle with real stars. Hire celebrity impersonators, and make sure guests have a chance to take pictures and get autographs.

Since it’s a movie premiere, make sure you show a movie. If you prefer a light-hearted atmosphere, have each department or team create a short film.

Give out awards for “Best Screenplay,” “Funniest Performance,” and other categories. Or, if you’d like to maintain decorum, show a slideshow of office photos from the last year and include filmed remarks from the managers and executives.

3. Knights of the Round Table

Have your entire office take a step back into medieval times with a party that recreates the Middle Ages.

Decorate with medieval pennants in deep, rich colors. Hang chandeliers, and set up long banquet tables filled with delicious foods: turkey legs, meat pies, cheese cubes, rolls, stews, and brothy soups. Don’t forget to offer cider and beer as well!

Give guests a chance to mingle as they move between various activities, such as:

Fake stocks people can put their head and arms through for a picture
An archery range where they can channel their own knight skills
Face painting station for young and young-at-heart attendees.

The main event of the evening should be a performance by actors trained in stage combat. Dressed in suits of armor and elegant dresses fit for royalty, they’ll enact a dramatic story of kings and queens, lords and ladies.

The action and romance will appeal to every member of your audience and cap off an adventure-filled night.

4. Monster Bash

Are your employees over the traditional winter holiday party because that season of the year becomes so busy? Move up the end of year party to the end of October and host a Halloween celebration instead.

Costumes shouldn’t be mandatory, but if you do allow guests to wear costumes, pick a theme so they can narrow down their options. Broad themes work best.

For example, the costume theme “pop culture icons” lets people dress up like athletes, actors, characters, and even politicians-but “famous historical couples” can feel limiting to those who don’t have a significant other.

Think outside the box and host an event that will have them wishing office parties happened every month.

Amp up the spookiness at your event with hired monster impersonators as well. They can mingle with guests as Frankenstein’s monster, vampires, zombies, and witches. You can even request that they set up a small haunted house walkthrough for guests who want a thrill.

Even though Halloween is all about candy, make sure your guests have some hearty food to eat in addition to buckets of sweets. Set up a soup bar, and let people try bisques, chowders, stews, and other varieties to their heart’s content.

This meal option is a great way to accommodate gluten-free and vegetarian eaters. For dessert, bring on the pumpkin. Serve bread, cookies, pie, or dessert bars infused with this seasonal favorite.

The list above should prove that office parties don’t have to be stuffy, boring events that your employees dread. Think outside the box and host an event that will have them wishing office parties happened every month.

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