How to Run a Corporate Party for Everyone and where does Design Thinking Fit here?

Corporate New Year parties are organized in every company. However, very often not all employees want to be a part of this celebration. Someone doesn’t like the format, someone is in a hurry to go home, and someone doesn’t feel like they are a part of the company and the team as a whole.

That’s why we had an idea to make this year’s celebration special so that 100% of our employees would join it, and most importantly, all our colleagues would have good memories of the party.

We started looking for ideas on how to make this wish come true, based on the methods that our team uses in their daily work. This is how we came up with the idea to prepare for it in the format of Design Thinking or Design Sprints.

Looking a little ahead, I’ll say no, it’s not a story about IT-guys going to the rally to nail a board on the door. We decided that by using this methodology, we will be able to take into account the interests of all and make our holiday interesting and fun for every employee.

In this article, I will try to describe in detail what and how we did it, and whether it really makes sense to use production methodologies for non-production tasks.

A few words about Design Thinking methodology

The process of design thinking enables you to better understand the consumer, his/her concerns and problems, and find alternative strategies to solve them. This method allows you to turn complex tasks into new opportunities for the development and to create a truly useful product.

It is the user orientation that distinguishes Design Thinking from other similar methods, because, first of all, it implies that there’s deep empathy to the consumer of the final product, his or her interests, and desires.

In the process of design sprints researchers and people for whom the product is created closely cooperate with each other. These people exchange thoughts and ideas, test different concepts, actively experiment, and eventually get insights, which turn into interesting solutions to the problem.

Despite the fact that this approach involves working according to a certain algorithm, you are free to change the design stages, merge them and develop new prototypes even before the previous ones are completed. This flexibility allows for user-friendly testing of various projects at a minimal cost.

We have already used this methodology in our work to increase our brand awareness on the technological side and to optimize some of our internal processes. As we received positive results, we decided to use this approach in the planning of the New Year corporate party to generate ideas that will enable us to organize a holiday for all employees without exception.


How we did it

The facilitator of our design thinking was Andrew Khomyn, who prepared the research format and led it. At the planning stage we also involved:

  • our creative Event Manager and HR Director;
  • Head of the sales department;
  • employees of the marketing and PR department;
  • developers who wanted to take part in the planning of the holiday.

Design Thinking is a rather long and multilevel process and it does not provide instant solutions, because the problem should be considered and worked through from different angles, testing the best ideas that emerged during the Design Thinking. We managed to achieve the desired result in 5 sprints.


In its classic case, the design thinking process involves 5 stages, the logical conclusion of which is the solution to the problem that satisfies all participants.

Empathy. We covered the first stage even before the beginning of corporate planning because we understood that IT specialists have completely different interests, so we decided to find out what they do in their spare time, where they live, how they have fun.

Defining the problem. As a basis for Design Thinking, we considered the question “How to hold a corporate party for everyone?”, because it was the fact that some of the employees had been missing at previous parties that prompted us to look for a new approach to organizing events in the company. At this stage, we interviewed colleagues from different departments, systematized their responses and expectations to use in further planning processes.

Generation of ideas. During the survey, we were able to determine why some of our colleagues had not attended parties that were meant to be organized for them. We started generating ideas based primarily on the interests of our colleagues, rather than on our own views of fun parties. We put all the ideas (even the craziest ones) on the map and then voted for the best ones.

Prototyping. We turned the selected ideas for the corporate party into practical scenarios to see if we could put them into practice. At this stage, several entertainment options had to be discarded, because it was clear that they do not solve the problem we wanted to tackle at the beginning of our design workshop and will not be interesting for everyone.

Testing. We tested the selected ideas by polling the staff again and got a positive result, which gave us the opportunity to move on to the planning of the New Year party proper, which takes into account the interests of all.

During the workshop, we realized that in order to create a holiday mood among our colleagues, some activities had to be done before the corporate party, so we organized a pre-holiday film marathon in several stages and ordered small gifts for everyone.



During the design sprints, we received several insights that I would like to share with you. We are sure that such discoveries will allow us to create completely new scenarios, different from what we used to have for previous corporate parties.

No. 1 – Less formality

As it turned out during the surveys, most of our employees find it stressful to have to sit at the same table all the time, especially when the management is present. Many noted that it would be cool to split the party area into different zones, where you can spend time interestingly.

Taking into account the different interests of our colleagues, in the final scenario of the New Year corporate party we decided to divide the holiday location into four zones:

  • Chill Zone – a corner with a calm atmosphere, quiet music, and board games;
  • Game Zone – a location with PS consoles to play with colleagues;
  • Alco Zone – a bar with a variety of drinks and cocktails, and hot alco-games;
  • Hookah Zone – a location with hookahs for all tastes, where you can chat with each other at ease.

Instead of the traditional table, we have prepared a buffet with dishes and snacks to suit all tastes.

No. 2 – Not everyone likes Santa Claus

Based on our previous experience and surveys, we realized that Santa Claus is absolutely not a format for (our) IT company. At best nobody will remember him, but at worst – he can ruin the holiday mood at all.

No. 3 – The host of the party may be too much

Very often companies invite hosts to their parties. It’s not a bad idea, but you have to be careful with it. Many hosts do not understand the difference between a “wedding” and a “New Year party,” so they speak as if it was the same type of audience. Well, as we understand it, a New Year corporate party for IT-guys and a weddings reception are completely different things.

We also understood that imposed contests from entertainers, which do not take into account the interests of colleagues, may be the reason why some employees do not want to attend the company’s parties.

No. 4 – Themed parties don’t always work

One of the important moments was the understanding that a corporate company with live Ukrainian music will not be appreciated by everyone. We respect and love Ukrainian music, but themed costumes and themed music may not be what employees expect from a New Year party.

No. 5 – Video and photo is a must

Having a professional photographer and cameraperson is an indispensable element of the celebration, which will be positively perceived by most colleagues. Photos from past celebrations will be actively discussed after the corporate party for a few more weeks, and especially “bright” moments of the holiday have every chance of becoming your internal memes. This will also have a positive impact on the mood and the team spirit.


What we got in the final

In our case, the design of the sprints clearly revealed some simple things that we did not even think about during the organization of previous corporate parties.

Design Thinking and live communication with our colleagues from different departments showed that everyone has his or her own view on fun and parties: someone wants to play the guitar, someone wants bright fireworks, firecrackers, and noise, and for somebody, it is enough to just have champagne, some tangerines and a chat with colleagues in a relaxed atmosphere.

P.S. Despite the fact that this was the first time we used Design Thinking in planning a corporate party, the results gave us a lot of ideas for organizing not only this celebration but also future events at our company.

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