15 ideas for corporate events sure to have guests lining up

A banquet table is covered in stacked dishes, Champagne flutes, and passed hors d'oeuvres ready to be served.
Paperless Post BlogBusiness > 15 ideas for corporate events sure to have guests lining up

Corporate events are a great way for you and your employees or business partners to let loose and have a little fun. But they’re also essential for establishing your company culture and to create stronger connections.

There are plenty of company event ideas that can match just about any mood or occasion. We asked three industry event experts for some help curating ideas and themes for all industries and budgets. So before you ready those business event invitations and refreshments, read on for some corporate event ideas sure to boost employee morale—and your business, overall.

 

Left: A drink & draw event invitation with abstract watercolor designs in brown and blue with white ticks. Right: A man wearing headphones at a laptop next to a bird of paradise plant writes in a notebook.
Mural” by Ashley G for Paperless Post; Image via Tima Miroshnichenko.

 

Corporate event ideas your employees will love

Whether you’re a small to medium-sized business or a large Fortune 500 company, your employees will benefit from appreciation events and team-building activities. Create a fun workplace with some of these employee appreciation ideas, and let your team know you care. 

 

Meet the experts
Whitney Wu is the Director of People Operations at Paperless Post.
Dorit Phinizy is the Director of Events & Sponsorship Sales at Grand Central Terminal, planning and overseeing large-scale public events like the annual Grand Central Holiday Fair.
Kara Hoover is an Event Operations Manager at One10 Marketing and volunteer for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

 

1. Drink-and-draw

A drink-and-draw or paint-and-sip is a hosted event that includes curated wine and painting. You provide the venue, snacks (think wine and charcuterie), and a painting or drawing instructor. Ask a local winery to sponsor the event so employees can learn about different wines while they’re guided through a simple painting or drawing.

A drink-and-draw is a fun and meaningful experience where employees can: 

  • Learn something new
  • Socialize outside the office
  • Make art without worrying too much about whether that art is “good”

Occasion: Any

Cost: $$

 

2. Meals from around the world

Good food and drinks are great incentives in the workplace. “Food has always brought people together,” says Whitney Wu, Director of People Operations at Paperless Post. [Editor’s note—hi, Whitney!] “Survey after survey, that’s what people often express—they want food.” 

Think of this event as a potluck with a twist. Create a list of countries, and randomly assign them to teams or individuals, who will cook up dishes from that country for the ensuing feast.

For example, the engineering team might cook up bulgogi and other Korean dishes, while the marketing team could prepare their best bolognese and bruschetta. On the day of the potluck, the teams can present their foods—including the recipes—and then dig in.

This is a good way for employees to: 

  • Share a meal
  • Acquire new recipes
  • Broaden their cultural horizons—and their palates

Occasion: Especially good for holiday events

Cost: $

 

3. Escape a room

Book an escape room, and divide employees into teams. Team members will get locked in a room and collect clues and solve puzzles to escape in a given amount of time. Some escape rooms have themes for an extra bit of flair and mystery. For an added incentive, give a prize to the team that finishes fastest.

Most escape rooms involve some logic and reasoning, and they help employees develop:

  • Broader critical thinking skills
  • Leadership skills 
  • Problem-solving skills

Occasion: Especially good for team-building events

Cost: $–$$$ 

 

4. Cooking classes

You can find dozens of local cooking classes designed specifically for corporate team-building. Brands like Cuiline have even streamlined the process with full cooking kits and easy video instructions that your employees can follow along with. Your employees will enjoy a good meal and sharpen their creative thinking skills while they prepare it.

“If you’re serving food,” says Kara Hoover, Director of Strategic Events at Press Ganey | Forsta, “you should make all attendees RSVP or register so you can capture dietary restrictions up front.” 

Occasion: Especially good for team-building events

Cost: $–$$$ 

 

Left: A person’s hands pour a light green cocktail mixture from a copper shaker through a strainer into three stemmed glasses. Right: An invitation for a mixology class has three simplified illustrated green cocktail olives on picks.
Image via Tim Durand; “Pick Me” by Paperless Post.

 

5. Mixology classes

Book a mixology class for an in-office happy hour—or host it at a local restaurant or bar instead. Make it an inclusive event with plenty of mocktail options for those who prefer not to drink.

“A lot of company events prioritize extroverted people,” Ms. Wu says. “How can we make events that maybe help people who are a little more introverted feel like they can get involved or want to participate?”

Your team will:

  • Get hands-on with something new 
  • Connect with their coworkers 
  • Have a good time

Occasion: Especially good for holiday events

Cost: $$$

 

6. Wine tasting

If everyone is on board, a wine tasting is a fun and interesting activity to get the team together for some R&R. Work with a local winery to organize a wine-tasting event for your team, led by a sommelier who will guide them through the process of tasting and analyzing different wines. 

Have team members write down their own tasting notes and vote for their favorites.

This is a great opportunity to: 

  • Learn new things 
  • Support local businesses
  • Enjoy laid-back “off” time with the work crew

Occasion: Especially good for holiday events

Cost: $$$

 

7. Indoor go-karts

Modern go-karts are fun and exhilarating. Reserve a track at your local go-kart spot—or if there’s enough space outside at the office, the go-karts can come to you. Some go-kart companies, like K1, offer team-building exercises, from team races to pit crew challenges. 

These types of events can: 

  • Help foster communication 
  • Provide a natural sense of competition 
  • Get people out of their comfort zone

Occasion: Especially good for employee appreciation

Cost: $$$–$$$$

 

8. Game show trivia

Host your own game show trivia night right in your conference room. Choose from numerous formats, whether you have contestants choose dollar amounts from a board like “Jeopardy!,” or you create teams to battle for the win. Offer prizes for the winners—and turn it into a regular event where champions have to defend their crown. A virtual trivia event is a great way to bring a remote team together for some fun, relaxing face time.

Occasion: Especially good for team-building

Cost: $–$$ (lower for virtual options)

 

9. Scavenger hunt

Scavenger hunts require participants to track down items and solve riddles within a set amount of time to receive points. Keep the scavenger hunt limited to the office, or take it off-site. Scavenger hunt items can vary, but they might include challenges like:

  • Take a picture with someone who has the closest birthday to yours
  • Find a piece of paper that contains the letters of your initials
  • Play—and win—a match of rock-paper-scissors with a stranger

Score each item based on difficulty, and offer prizes to the highest score. A scavenger hunt is a fun test of:

  • Ingenuity
  • Creativity
  • Resourcefulness

Occasion: Especially good for team building

Cost: $–$$ (lower for virtual options)

 

10. Paint a mural 

Do you have a blank wall in your office or campus that could use some extra color? Bring your team together to paint a mural. Decide on a design or theme beforehand, or let employees freestyle it. Provide paint and some guidelines, serve snacks and beverages, and put on some tunes to keep things lively. Provide swag, like shirts that your team members can wear as smocks.

Painting a mural together is a good way for participants to: 

  • Practice some artistry and creativity
  • Enjoy the fruits of their teamwork every day 
  • Contribute to the company culture

Occasion: Any, but especially good for the company anniversary

Cost: $$

 

Left: A Makers’ Market invitation with color-blocked rectangles and half-circles and a photo of some fruit-shaped earrings on a dark blue background. Right: A woman stands proudly at a colorful table in a craft fair.
Round About” by Paperless Post; Image via Renegade Craft.

 

Corporate event ideas your clients and business partners will love

Hosting events for clients and business partners helps you maintain positive working relationships and build new connections. These corporate party ideas will help you show your appreciation to those outside of your workforce who contribute to your success.

 

11. After-hours client mixer

For some simple, on-site fun, invite your clients and business partners to your office for an after-hours mixer to meet and network. Conduct a quick tour of the office, or give them an insider view of your operations.

To spice up the event:

  • Partner with local caterers for tasty snacks
  • Host a raffle for prizes
  • Bring in a DJ
  • Hire a bartender with pizzazz

Occasion: Especially good for a product launch or company anniversary

Cost: $$–$$$

 

12. Holiday gift fair

Combine your holiday party with an arts and crafts fair to help your employees get started on their gift shopping.

Depending on your budget, you can keep this small—send corporate reception invitations to clients and customers—or open it up to the general public and send invitations via a shareable link. 

Occasion: Seasonal holidays

Cost: $$$-$$$$

 

13. Company yoga

Yoga classes are available for all skill levels and group sizes. Bring in a professional yoga instructor for your next corporate event to lead a class and help your clients de-stress and limber up. Afterward, serve healthy snacks and refreshments, and provide entertainment to keep the conversations going. You can even provide on-site massages or massage chairs to make it feel really relaxing.

Occasion: Especially good for a product release

Cost: $$–$$$

 

An online invite for a “Save the Arts silent auction” has an animated gif on the right of a wine glass with a fluctuating amount of red wine inside and the words “raise glasses, raise funds.”
Raise Glasses” Flyer by Paperless Post.

 

14. Raise money for the community

Corporate fundraisers are a great way to give back to the community while having some fun along the way. Fundraising event ideas include: 

  • Silent auctions
  • Raffles
  • Sports tournaments
  • Game nights, like a casino night or bingo night 

“An important idea to consider is making sure there’s something for everyone at your fundraiser,” Ms. Hoover says. “You can have different levels of tickets for entry.” 

Add some great food, live music, and plenty of drinks, and you’ve got a party where everyone wins.

Occasion: Any

Cost: $$$–$$$$

 

15. Retreat to a scenic getaway

Sometimes, it’s nice to just get away from it all. Invite your VIP clients or investors to a retreat to somewhere new—whether that’s a series of lakeside cabins or bungalows by the beach. 

Fly your clients and business partners out for a weekend of relaxation and adventure with planned activities and plenty of free time to take in the local scenery. Throw in some information about your new products or services for an added marketing bonus. 

Occasion: Any

Cost: $$$$

 

How to choose a corporate event idea

Choosing the right corporate event idea depends on a variety of factors—what works for one company may not fit as well for yours. These expert tips can help you choose the right corporate event idea for you. 

Figure out the goal of your event

Before planning an event, Ms. Hoover always asks, “What is the overall message or experience you want the audience to come away with? Who is the audience? That wraps around to everything that you’re doing.” 

If the goal of your event is simply to have fun, choose an event like a game night or mixology class. If it’s to foster relationships, opt for a team-building activity. If it’s to wow clients, make it a formal event with cocktails or dinner and entertainment.

You don’t need a huge budget

You don’t have to drop a lot of cash to throw a great corporate event. The key to success is to get creative with what you have—even if it’s as simple as an after-hours soiree in the conference room.

Ms. Wu rented a townhome for her company holiday party one year. “Our creative coworkers helped me brainstorm decor, and we came up with a ‘Home for the Holidays’ theme with kitschy things like Santa toilet seat covers—and I hung the lights myself,” she recalls. “I catered with dumplings from Costco—I was heating up all of the party food in the kitchen.” Since it was a house party, she set up different rooms for different purposes. “In the basement, I set up the board games for the people who are a little bit quieter. In the living room, we set it up with the DJ booth for dancing.”

Stay calm and have fun

Things can and will go awry. The key is to roll with the punches, says Dorit Phinizy, Director of Events & Sponsorship Sales at Grand Central Terminal. “For any event, being calm is key. Even if behind the scenes you’re frazzled and worried, always showing a calm demeanor keeps everyone else around you more level-headed and calm as well.”

No matter which corporate event theme or idea you choose, there’s no need to worry about stamps or trips to the post office. Paperless Post offers fast, affordable, and convenient online business event invitations from best-in-class designers, including Oscar de la Renta, and Rifle Paper Co. Our hassle-free guest management tools make it easy to track RSVPs and communicate with invitees so you can spend less time worrying about invitations and more time planning the perfect refreshments and activities.

 

Browse professional invitations

 

Hero image via Adobe Stock.