Every year we do something different for our office holiday parties. In the years when we were doing really well, it was a night out with a guest - a fancy dinner somewhere. In the leaner years, it was a potluck lunch at work (employees only).
The last few years, the owner of our company has become very creative in the planning of our parties. A few years ago, we all drove out to Crocker Park, a "lifestyle center" on the west side of town. We were all given $75 and told to spend it on ourselves. We were not to purchase gifts for others. We had an hour or so to buy what we wanted, and then we met for lunch at The Cheesecake Factory, where we enjoyed a great meal and showed off our gifts (or our creativity; one employee used some of the money to get her hair cut). It was honestly the first time I have ever paid full retail price for items for myself. I felt a bit guilty, but it was just fun to spend. Oh, and if we didn't spend the money, we had to turn it in at the end, and it would be given to charity. Of course there's one in every bunch, and we do have the employee who didn't need anything and donated all his money to charity. Made the rest of us feel like a bunch of heels, but we still had a great time.
This year the party was to be a surprise. We only knew that it would be held at Legacy Village, the east side "lifestyle center." I was VERY happy about this destination because I live 5 minutes away.
So we all met at The Viking Store, which is a kitchen store and cooking school. The party's purpose, as the owner told us, was to work on "team-building." I admit that is an area that needs work at our company. There are only 20 some people working there, and we definitely cause each other a lot of grief.
So we divided into 2 groups, in 2 separate rooms, and within our rooms, we were given a team to work with. Teams had 3-4 people. We had a fun and informative instructor, and with a lot of laughing and talking, we set out to make a cocktail party menu: tiny blue cheese biscuits with seared beef tenderloin; grilled chicken skewers with honey pomegranate glaze; steamed halibut with thai red curry sauce; roasted vegetable and boursin canapes, and for bananas foster for dessert.
Sound good? It was good. Along with the fun of cooking with others (and it was extra fun cause a lot of the ingredients were pre-measured and these ladies came and picked up all our dirty dishes and whisked them away - I loved that!).
While we waited for the food to cook, we were given glasses of wine and told to wander through the store. The one thing I loved was the juicer gadgets that made it so easy to squeeze fresh fruits. At $17, I decided it was beyond my budget, but I will post this here and hope some family member might read this - my birthday is in July!
It really was a fun way to spend an afternoon.