The holidays are upon us, and while we mentally prepare ourselves to go home, celebrate with family and try not to discuss politics, LA-based startups are throwing some truly awesome parties.
Culver City-based SteelHouse set the bar high with their festivities at a unique local restaurant. According to Head of Talent Kathleen Prior Louis, the all-inclusive event isn't particularly unique compared to what the marketing tech company does over the course of a year.
How does SteelHouse celebrate the holidays?
"Each year, the morning of the holiday party starts with a company-wide ugly sweater competition. But there’s a catch — it is a team effort and everything has to be hand-made. The entire company is divided into teams of people from different departments who have to craft and decorate a single sweater. Once everyone is done, the runway show begins! Each team chooses a runway song and designates a model to walk down a red carpet while a panel of judges chose a winner. This inevitably turns into a dance competition and it’s always the people we thought were the shyest that really surprise us. After the winners are declared, everyone clears out to clean the glitter and glue off and get dressed up for the party.
This year, the company took over Laurel Hardware, a super unique farm-to-table restaurant in a former hardware store, for a night of fun with our friends. The party included custom cocktails, amazing food and a holiday-themed photo booth. We also featured live music with a band performing throughout the night, joined occasionally by members of our leadership team on the tambourine.
Was it awesome?
"Holiday parties should be an all-day occasion for everyone to take a break from their normal work to enjoy time with their friends. And what could be more fun than watching your friends cover a sweater with hot-glued decorations, and then get freaky on a runway before heading to one of LA’s best restaurants for cocktails and live music? If we find an answer, we’ll tell you about it next year."
Holiday parties are inherently a time for celebration, but FabFitFun takes that celebration to a new level. According to Head of People Operations Kelli Newman, the party this year had so many moving parts, it's almost impossible for any other startup to replicate.
How does FabFitFun celebrate the holidays?
"FabFitFun is notoriously over the top in our party planning, and our holiday event was no different. This year was all about reliving the '90s at the Palihouse West Hollywood.
Was it awesome?
Not only was every detail made perfectly 90s, but we also had super unique activations and performers that put the party over the top. Some highlights include a massive Christmas tree decorated with iconic 90s toys like Tamagotchi's, trolls, and power rangers, a Lisa Frank themed candy bar complete with a Unicorn serving candy, FabFitFun branded American Beauty wall with actress covered in rose petals, iconic performances from O-Town and Mase, and several actors playing iconic 90s characters like Urkel, Cher and Dionne from Clueless, the yellow Power Ranger, Daria and more."
Boingo Wireless celebrated its 15th anniversary this year by inviting employees around the world to the company's Westwood headquarters. According to Melody Demel, much awesomeness occurred.
How does Boingo Wireless celebrate the holidays?
"To kick off the holiday season and celebrate its 15th Anniversary, hundreds of Boingoites from around the world gathered at its HQ in Westwood LA for a day of community, team building and vision setting. The all-day event was built around the theme 'All In: I Love LA.'
Was it awesome?
The day’s activities included interactive presentations at The Landmark Regent Theatres where executives celebrated 2016 accomplishments and talked candidly with employees about how Boingo plans to evolve its mission to connect the world to the people and things they love. Boingoites even got to watch C-Suite execs do their rendition of Carpool Karaoke! Other activities included an exclusive screening of Werner Herzog’s latest documentary, Lo and Behold, which examines the past, present and future of the Internet.
After a day of learning, laughing and networking, the anniversary celebration was topped off with a special cocktail party and dinner. Highlights included wi-fi cake pops, arcade games, and a company-wide Rock, Paper, Scissors tournament that welcomed roaring cheers that you could likely hear all the way up the 405 freeway."
While some companies opt for the party method, Laserfiche likes to keep things low-key. According to Recruiting Coordinator Allisyn Ruttle, a simple Sunday brunch (and appropriate prizes) was enough to remind the team of their successes throughout the year.
How does Laserfiche celebrate the holidays?
"This year’s holiday party was at a local restaurant in Long Beach. For the past two years, our holiday party has been a brunch event in the early afternoon that features a delicious meal, a visit from Santa (complete with personalized gifts for employees’ children), a plentiful raffle as well as other fun activities like face painting, ornament decorating, a caricature artist and a photo booth! The best part of the event is when the CEO, Chris Wacker, speaks about the accomplishments Laserfiche can be proud of this year, while recognizing each team individually for the work they do. It really is an employee appreciation endeavor that is absolutely successful!
"Both the cookie exchange and the gingerbread house building contest, which we do every year, happen during work hours here at Laserfiche. The gingerbread house competition is especially cool because it encourages departments to work together as a team to create the most outrageous house they can. Last year, someone created a gingerbread house that looked like the Las Vegas strip, and it was so great, the Bellagio retweeted it!"
According to Katarina Koonce, Irvine-based Cie Digital Labs' celebration will be one for the ages.
How does Cie Digital Labs celebrate the holidays?
"This year our holiday cocktail party will be hosted offsite at Envy Lounge in Newport Beach. We will kick off the afternoon with an All Hands Meeting led by our CEO, Anderee Berengian. A little before 4:30 we will head over to the Lounge and start the festivities. We’ll kick off with drinks and appetizers at 5, followed by Secret Santa present exchange at 6.
Next we’ll have raffle prizes and open it up for everyone to drink, mingle and be merry. The team really loves this time of year, and the opportunity for us to get together outside of the office, disconnect from work and unwind. Usually people will dress up and show off their holiday festiveness. At the end of the night, the company covers Uber rides so that everyone can get home safely. Looking forward to a night of laughs and good conversation with some awesome people!"
As Office and Culture Coordinator at Omaze, Catherine Brower was tasked with putting together a party that would be memorable. Having just moved into a new space, they certainly had more room to do so.
How does Omaze celebrate the holidays?
"The Omaze team and their plus ones celebrated the season with a DJ, photo booth, two open bars, and a live Omaze video booth.
Was it awesome?
We just moved into a new office space two months ago, so we thought what better way to celebrate our new space and the holidays than with a party at the office!"
DogVacay had a big year, and the team celebrated in style, according to Erika Kavanagh.
How does DogVacay celebrate the holidays?
"DogVacay started their holiday event by teaming up with the experts at The Go Game. Staff was carefully broken into eleven teams, with each team having at least one representative per department, and released out into Santa Monica where they participated in a two-hour scavenger hunt. Each challenge allowed for a different type of leader to step up and carry the team through to the finish line. Most importantly, staff had the opportunity to learn and connect with each other in a fun environment. After the scavenger hunt, staff gathered together to exchange stories, receive fun prizes and view videos and pictures of their adventures.
Was it awesome?
The second phase of DogVacay’s holiday event was located at The Santa Monica Museum of Flying. The team selected this venue because aviation is a testament to innovation — making the seemingly impossible, a part of everyday life. DogVacay believes that looking outside your own industry might yield surprising solutions to tough problems.
Staff spent the remainder of the evening touring the museum, taking a ride in the flight simulator, sitting inside the cockpit of a plane, eating, drinking and dancing. Everyone learned something new that day. From walking on hands to impressive jingle writing, the pack at DogVacay is feeling rejuvenated and connected."
It's been a big few days for Culver City-based Survios, and it all got started a few days before when the team celebrated its impending news with a raucous party. According to Director of Talent Drew Greeley, there were almost as many chances to win awesome prizes as there were attendees.
How does Survios celebrate the holidays?
"The Survios Holiday Party this year was held inside our 16,000-square foot studio. We transformed the space into a badass VR Winter Wonderland. Friends and Family were welcome to the event.
The event included a fully stocked bar, tequila toast, mariachi band, a Raffle Giveaway (with prizes including a PS4, drone and a private chef for 4, among others) and a Super Smash Brothers Tournament.
Was it awesome?
Our people are what makes our company awesome and our party was no exception. The holidays are all about bringing family together, and at Survios, we are all one big family. As a company, we more than doubled in size this past year and this party gave us a great excuse to bring our Survios family and their loved ones together, to enjoy a night filled with fun and holiday cheer!"
Images via participating companies. Some responses have been edited for length and clarity.