So, you manage a community and you’re planning a holiday party.

You want everyone to show up, and you want everyone to have the awesomest time ever. How best to approach this?

Like everything else, there are two ways: the easy way and the hard way. With the easy way, you recruit the help and participation of your community to make an event that is not just valuable to everyone involved as attendees, but as people who have helped to make it happen. And as much as people like a great party, they like it even better when they feel like they had a hand in helping throw a great party.

So, as you plan your holiday parties, consider the following:

How should we decide what special drink to make?

(1) Take a bunch of time to think about what different kinds of drinks people like, research recipes, buy the ingredients, try to teach yourself the recipes, and hope you don’t screw it up.

(2) Ask your community members who has a favorite holiday cocktail recipe. Enthusiastically invite anyone who responds to concoct their favorite beverage at the upcoming party. Ask the rest of the members if they’d be willing to chip in. At the party, enjoy a cocktail made by someone who knows how to make it.

How should we decide what music to put on?

(1) Spend hours compiling a list of music that’s “just right,” in your estimation, or just throw on a Spotify playlist or Pandora station, after doing extensive research to see which ones would be most appropriate.

(2) Invite members to contribute links to their favorite playlists. Elect the most enthusiastic contributor to be the guest playlist-DJ. Enjoy new music you’ve never heard of before and watch as members talk to each other about their selections.

What kinds of fun activities should we have?

(1) Do hours of research into various activities, go shopping for the appropriate goods, spend money on materials, spend time setting up the activity on the day of the event, recruit people to participate, hope it’s worth the trouble, deal with the leftover materials.

(2) Find out what activities your community members loved doing with their families growing up. Invite anyone interested to have their very own station at the holiday party. Give them simple sign-up boards to post throughout the space, inviting fellow members to participate and to help bring the appropriate materials.

How should I run this party in general?

(1) Try to do everything yourself. Do all of the planning where no one can see. Pay for everything, provide all of the food and drink and entertainment, and clean up everything yourself afterwards. Hope people show up and have a good time. Resign your own good time to the quiet moments you’ll have with the leftover eggnog while you deal with the trash by yourself in your space at midnight after everyone’s gone home.

(2) Invite everyone to participate in every way possible. Encourage and celebrate everyone who responds. Watch as your party takes shape in ways you could never have anticipated. Be surprised by how much fun you have at your own party. Be even more surprised when you find that people are more than happy to help you clean up, so you can all continue to hang out somewhere else afterwards.

…could this kind of thinking apply to more than just the holiday party?

You betcha.

Want to learn more about how to cultivate this kind of culture in your coworking community? Susan and I are convening our next team of community builders in January through our Cotivation program. I’m also available for one-on-one consulting

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