What it takes and costs to throw an epic startup party

10th Jan 2016
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You may think this is yet another Indian startup attempting to look cool. But hopefully this post serves as a reminder to you on why it is necessary to throw epic office parties.

Office parties are welcomed with open arms but what most people fail to see behind the curtain is how crucial it can be to relieve stress and boost morale. Anyone who’s founded a startup or works in one will confirm that the environment is challenging and the work hours often get long. To stay lean, teams are small and have to often wear a number of hats, which land extra responsibilities on their shoulders.

This has the potential to lead to stress which in turn compromises productivity.

In fact, psychological studies corroborate that office parties have a tremendous positive effect on employee behaviour and job satisfaction.

It is also interesting to note here that startups, especially, can very quickly convert into a moat of tension and uncertainty. This is because most up and coming startups comprise primarily of young people who have the knowledge and skills but minimal job experience, resulting in a frugal understanding of how to cope when overwhelmed with grinding workload.

In such a predicament, it becomes imperative for the company, and the individual, that they learn to take a “chill pill”.

Not as an option but as a prescription.

But enough about stress and workload. Let me start delivering what I’ve promised in the headline.

Below you’ll find a bunch of planned (and spontaneous) activities that we had for our 20-member team at our Christmas-cum-New Year partyat AdPushup, along with the total expenditure. This information will hopefully give you some ideas for what you can do when you’re organising your own booze and grub fest.

Activities

Kudos to our party planning committee (throwback to The Office) Aditi, Aparna and Nizamuddin.

They picked activities which relied upon maximum participation rather than expensive props. For others, good old spontaneity and adrenaline rush did the job.

startup party

However, I want to point out that real fun should not be completely planned.

Why? Because of the invisible expectation that gets forced that one has to have fun, regardless of actual enjoyment, because someone else put in the hard work of planning and organising it.

Therefore, when you plan your party, the best thing to do is to provide an ambience (or mahaul) and some direction for people to come together and enjoy.

The highlights of the day were:

  • Jam sessionFrom RHCP’s Californication to Winds of Change by Scorpions, our team members crooned to the Christmas and party spirit. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that even in such a small team,we had people who could sing and play instruments like the dhol and guitar.
startup party
  • Dodgeball (well if you can call it that)The whole thing was impromptu and started when the lovely Aparna gifted the entire team with these stress-busting smiley balls.
startup party

However, since collectively squeezing smiley balls wasn’t really relieving any stress, our resident Twitterati VJ defiled this holy exercise by throwing one of them at Quora surfer Priyesh. And that was that. Battle horns were blown and hand cannons were readied.

What follows is not advisable for kids at home. See video below -


  • Balloon balanceOnce everyone was exhausted after pelting each other with soft balls, it was time to move on to a more humane activity; one that required teamwork.The game basically involved balancing balloons between a train of people, while competing in separate teams, to reach from point A to B.Sounds confusing? Check out the video below -

  • Secret Santa gift exchange -The original plan was to just call out names one by one and announce the respective secret Santas and share gifts. But the blood rush from Dodgeball was still warm so someone decided to introduce a twist.The person receiving the gift would be given one chance to guess their secret Santa, failing which they would be bombarded with smiley balls, public execution style. But if they guessed the name of their benefactor correctly then that individual would receive the soft end of the ball.Suffice it to say, it added a certain kind of thrill and charm to the whole evening.
  • Poker and Bluff -Post gift distribution, people dispersed temporarily to eat snacks, revel and play poker (and later on Bluff). By now everyone was quite buzzed and playing Poker was even more fun.
startup party
  • Music -Well this was something that was going on throughout the time (no-brainer there).
  • In the beginning we were taking song requests but that was abandoned once people started suggesting Baba Sehgal, Altaf Raja and Jagjeet Singh!(Party fact: As the buzz rises, you and your colleagues’ music taste will drop to the point that everyone competes to play that one song that makes people repent the day music was invented)It’s then that we fell back to this really great party playlist on YouTube. Enjoy it, guys -

Food and drinks

We kicked off with a

  • Special north Indian breakfast which hadChole
  • Kadhai paneer
  • Lachcha paratha
  • Pulav
  • Gajar ka halwa
  • Paused for a barbecue of mushroom, chicken and paneer delicacies (prepared by our team members).Special shoutout to our resident chefs Utkarsh and Abhimanyu who handled everything from the ingredients to the preparation.
startup party

The menu was selected on the spot. Grofers came to the rescue with the ingredients.

  • And finished with an early Italian dinner that consisted of -Linguine in basil
  • Creamy mushroom risotto
  • Aubergine parmigiana
  • Chicken alfredo
  • Tuscan chicken
  • With copious amounts of alcohol throughout the day
startup party

For the sake of clarity,we are not promoting drinking. It’s just that alcohol does have the unspoken quality of helping people wind down and lower inhibitions.

And for those of you wondering,a quarter of our organisation consists of teetotallers and those guys enjoyed as much as the people who partake.

  • FinaleBy 12:30 am, it was time to ‘call it a day’. Take a cab home if you had alcohol and came by your own vehicle to work.

Expenses for the party

  • FoodNorth Indian breakfast (19 plates @ Rs 140 each) - Rs 2660
  • Barbecue ingredients Rs 2000
  • Italian dinner Rs 9000
  • Props and miscellaneous – Rs 280

Things that we used from previous occasions and saved money on

  • Christmas tree
  • Diwali lights
  • Alcohol – Rs 5,500

Total expenses for the party = Rs. 19,580

(That came to Rs 979 per person)

Finishing up

I’m sure there are quite a few of you who are thinking right now “What was so special about this?” or “How was this party epic?” or “Why was I promised Memento but given Ghajini?”

Well sir or madam,you andyour team define what is epic for you and your team.

A good indicator of whether a party was amazing or not, is when people get bhavuk and send these on the company WhatsApp group:

startup party

So, again, why should you plan such parties?

Other than getting people drunk, it builds genuine team spirit, helps in alleviating stress and most importantly,reminds the team members that they are the real treasure for an organisation. That their happiness and satisfaction comes before the product, the customers, the company.

If you’re fascinated by this post then you will be glad to find some more inspiration by checking out how we raised our investment and how much of it we used to build a new office and hold an offline marketing event.

About the author –

Sujan Deswal chronicles experiences at AdPushup. You can find him @SujanDeswal. He is an inbound marketer.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory)

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