The rapidly approaching holiday season presents an excellent opportunity to get creative and plan an event that’s not only cost-effective but fun. Manhattan is an ideal place for corporate activities because the city provides the most options, is centrally located and has great transit hubs. The following alternative holiday party ideas, tips and local resources can help you host a memorable experience for five, 50 or 500 people. Whether the company culture is conservative, moderate or unconventional, the point is to use your imagination to plan a creative holiday event that still represents the company professionally and expresses appreciation to everyone.
A party can be planned with any budget. To understand the impact these parties can have on your wallet, the suggestions below are marked with a rating of $, $$ or $$$.
Sing. Dance. Team-Build.
Make a joyful noise at Top Tunes Karaoke, located at 303 East 53rd St., off Second Avenue (East Midtown). Pick from over 90,000 songs and give Elvis, Sting and Aretha a run for their money. Book one of the private rooms and let everyone sing their hearts out. Feed your team from an international menu of drinks, snacks and hors d’oeuvres. Two options are offered for a three-hour party with a minimum of 15 people from $45 to $60 per person plus tax and gratuity including open bar, beer, house wines and well drinks only. Champagne and top shelf liquors are available at extra cost.
Top Tunes: (212) 758-3818; karaoketoptunes.com. Budget: $
Reserve a private room and create your own dinner and dance experience at Sounds of Brazil (S.O.B’s) located at Seventh Avenue/Varick Street and West Houston Street in the West Village. This is an ideal location that provides dance instructors, fantastic food, energetic music and live performances. Give your group some feather boas and fedoras and watch their shyness disappear. S.O.B.’s event coordinators will help you create a custom event package that celebrates the holiday season with a little culture from South America. If your group is small to moderate, you can choose from the three-course or five-course prix fixe menus ranging from $60 to 85 per person plus tax and gratuity, including dessert; then pair with the open bar special that suits your budget for $25–$50 per person. If your group is larger, there are packages for 100–375 guests ranging from $70 to $95 per person plus tax and gratuity, with room rental at $2,500. A professional party DJ or entertainment is additional.
Sounds of Brazil/S.O.B.’s.: (212) 243-4940; sobs.com. Budget: $$–$$$
Engage your team in an interactive and invigorating session at Drum Café New York. Step out of the “comfort zone” and let Drum Café’s highly creative musicians and facilitators lead your team in a truly unique jam session. Turning your staff into a rhythm section creates company unity, releases tension and lays the foundation for an unforgettable holiday celebration.
Drum Café NY: (212) 529-1881; drumcafeny.com. Budget: $$$
Night of a 1,000 Stars
Rub shoulders with political leaders, pop stars, TV legends and historical figures at Madame Tussauds New York located at 234 West 42nd St. in Times Square. Reserve the venue’s private space and host a reception among the world’s most notable figures of the past and present. Hand out Polaroid cameras and have lots of film on hand or just make the rounds with your digital camera as your group members strike a pose with Madonna, hold a fist up to Muhammad Ali, talk peace with Gandhi and play air guitar with Jimi Hendrix.
Madame Tussaud’s NY: (800) 923-0334;madametussauds.com. Budget: $$–$$$
Make ’Em Laugh
Share a laugh with your guests at Comix NY, located at 353 West 14th St., just east of Ninth Avenue in the West Village, Zagat’s highest-rated New York comedy club and what the Hollywood Reporter called “one of the top six comedy clubs in the U.S.” The club holds parties of 10–320 people seated or up to 700 for standing receptions. Choose from three different rooms or take advantage of all three, depending on the size of your group. Ticket prices range from $10 to $35 depending on the day of the week. Custom shows are available for private groups. Comix NY also has a state-of-the-art audiovisual capabilities for presentations. Tailor-made food and beverage packages range from $45 to $150 per person plus tax and gratuities. Also consider Gotham Comedy Club and Caroline’s on Broadway. Make sure you do some research and check their online calendars for featured acts. Humor is subjective, so work with the club’s management to choose a corporate-friendly performer who is mentally engaging and expletive-free. Contact the private event and group sales departments for complete and customizable packages of dinner, drinks, tickets and private space for pre-show receptions for groups of all sizes.
Comix NY: (212) 915-0444; comixny.com. Budget: $$
Sandra Placide is a certified special event professional, founder and president of Illumination Marketing + Events, LLC. She can be reached at illummktevents.com.