Today my firm held its Holiday party which was fun and engaging for all. There are a lot of ways to bring together a large group of people -- hotel dinners, luncheons, etc., but when the group has a lot of daily history together I like what my firm did.
We rented a large ship for the afternoon from Hornblower Cruises on Newport Beach (CA). People were able to drive themselves on down to the dock or they could board rented buses for the ride to the party. Once there the crowd could spread out on the gambling deck, the food deck, or the observation deck. All of the gambling (a full casino spread) was for tickets to the raffle to be held toward the end of the 3 hour cruise (kind of like Gilligan's Island without five seasons and never-ending reruns).
As usual most people hung close to those they knew the best (is any company or firm event any different?). And why shouldn't it be that way. If we're going to have a good time we will definitely enjoy ourselves most among those we know. On the dining deck it was obvious whom worked with whom just by where everyone sat.
What really worked for mixing folks up was the gambling deck. I stood back a couple of times on that deck just to observe the flow of people and in most cases it was more about what games people wanted to play and less about whom they knew. COOL! And it was fun! People cheering and clapping and joking about game play. One craps table in particular really took the prize for unbridled fun.
When the raffle finally came around the crowd really felt like a unified group from one firm. It was a good time and I look forward to what is cooked up next.