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December 12, 2013

How to throw a killer, Pluralsight-style holiday party in 4 easy steps


Does the Pluralsight staff know how to have fun? Yes, we take our jobs building the best tech training library on the planet seriously, but we’re known to cut loose around the office with Nerf gun attacks and Pluralball (yes, it’s a thing). Outside the office, we get even more raucous, especially around the holidays.

This week, we threw holiday parties near our offices in Layton, Utah and Schaumburg, Illinois, and we think we’ve found the recipe to throwing a mind-blowing event:

  1. Know your audience. Is your staff mostly made up of tech nerds? (Ahem.) Give them gadgets. Outdoorsy types? Plan a party that gets their blood pumping al fresco. Foodies? Blow your budget on the eats. Put all those break room conversations you’ve overhead to use or poll your team ahead of time. It’s hard to accommodate everyone, but if you please the majority, the enthusiasm will spread.
  2. Make sure the company leadership attends. These days, it’s not uncommon to have c-level employees scattered across the globe. At Pluralsight, our founders live in California,  Maine and Utah, but they all made the effort to attend both holiday parties. A gathering like this provides a rare opportunity for people in every department to socialize with the leadership team and get to know them in a way they can’t at the office. Bonus points if you can get your CTO to dress like Santa like Keith Sparkjoy did!
  3. Host a game everyone can participate in. Yes, you feel like a genius after a round of computer science trivia, but what about the sales staff or significant others? Finding a game that everyone can learn quickly and compete in gets the whole room buzzing. At our parties, we opted for a rock-paper-scissors tournament. Everyone paired up to partake in a best-of-three round while chanting Plur-al-sight with every pound of the fist. It was so simple, yet so high-energy because….
  4. Give prizes people will care about. Let’s be real. No one is going to Instagram a “check out this company T-shirt and coffee mug I just won” selfie. But, a PS4, a 63-inch TV, a $5,000 trip? You can bet the Pluralsight staff paid attention when our friendly rock-paper-scissors game turned into a joust for this level of swag! (For proof, watch the video below.) Rather than spend your budget on lots of little gifts, reserve as much as you can for some significant prizes that will leave people talking about the party for months. Strapped? Give your employees extra PTO or a “reserved” prime parking spot for a month. Be creative but make it meaningful!

There are other obvious keys to throwing a successful romp (i.e timing and location, copious amounts of sweets) but following these four steps will make all your staff members want to do a victory dance like this guy:

About the Author

is the Director of Branded Content at Pluralsight. After working for years in Chicago media, she joined the team in 2012 to continue bringing quality news, tips and more to Pluralsight's audience. Find her @ChicagoDana or on Google+.

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