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Getting Introverts to Unwind at Work X-Mas Party? 161

Posted by Cliff
from the you-have-to-come-out-of-the-cubical-sometime dept.
pongo asks: "My department has a large population of introverts, as confirmed by Meyers-Briggs testing. Somehow I was suckered into planning a holiday party with another department that suffers similiar symptoms. Any suggestions on ways (themes, decorations, food choices, games, etc) to encourage light banter and to get people meeting each other, which would make this party a big success? The party will be during business hours and alcohol is allowed." The key here is making a comfortable atmosphere where everyone can unwind and feel comfortable with meeting each other. What ways do you know of to encourage this kind of atmosphere?
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Getting Introverts to Unwind at Work X-Mas Party?

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  • I just did a search and good party tips tricks suggestions and only found 10,500 sites in 0.19 seconds...

    hah.

    If all else fails, hot tub! ;>
  • Make sure you have paper plates which can support the weight of at least 3 mini-hotdogs, broccoli and some ranch dressing at the same time. Also, avoid slippery glasses.
  • RUssian Drinking Games!
    They won't be introverts for long...
  • Mandatory triple-whisky at entrance should do the trick =)
  • the animal game (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ThePilgrim (456341)
    Preperation:

    Get a long role of sticky labels
    On enougth labels for one each of the guests write the name of a diffrent animal

    As each guest arrives stick a label on their back and tell them they have to find out the name of their animall.

    The other rules
    Yoy cant tell somone the name of their animal directely.

    You can ask any other question about your animal.
    • As a self professed introvert, I have to say that is the worst idea ever.

      I behave as an introvert because:
      1. I am often not interested in the topics at hand. Making artificial topics with even less interet is not the answer.
      2. I don't always say the first think that comes to mind. I usually wait until a conversation comes to a sticking point where I actually have something to offer. I usually let someone else say the obvious.
      3. I hate talking about myself. Don't make me ask others about me.

      Try bringing up topics more in tune with the people there.
      Offer many small groups with small topics. don't force everyone to come together into "one big event/conversation".

      Try setting up many smaller tables each with different types of snacks, and conversation pieces (games, toys, books, whatever). Let the people go to the topic of their choice.

      • > As a self professed introvert, I have to say that [the animal / sticky label on your back game] is the worst idea ever.

        What he said.

        I loathe making small talk. I suspect I'd amuse myself at an animal-game party by saying "Senator?", "Marketing Guy?", "Spammer?", "The goat in goatse.cx?" or other some such quasi-geek humor until the annoying person talking to me went away.

        I agree with the ones who say that if you wanna get the introverted techies talking, you gotta talk their language.

        Read Slashdot for three days before the party. Pick the top five stories by number of comments. Ask the geeks about the subject matter. (Even if they don't read /., they're probably interested.)

        As a non-sportswatching-geek, I'd much rather talk shop than talk about the latest reality TV series or sporting event. (My lust for tribalism is satisfied by watching matchups like Microsoft vs. Linux, or RIAA/MPAA vs. Everyone. YMMV.)

        Of course, if you do this, don't expect to understand the conversation that follows. Don't try and bluff -- we'll spot that from a mile away. Just find two people interested in these things and get them in a conversation with each other, and then quietly go away. The rest of the geeks will gravitate towards that cluster and geek out amongst ourselves, leaving you alone to go do whatever sorts of things it is that extroverts like to do.

      • Huh...sounds like the kind of crap they tried to pull my freshman year of college. There was a madatory "social event" after class that all freshmen were supposed to attend.

        When I get there, the socialising takes the form of stupid "get to know each other" games like that ^^^ one. There was even a deal where we were suppoed to form a circle, slowly sit, and through the power of teamwork and trust, form a ring of dorky freshmen sitting on each other's knees.

        At that point, I made up an excuse about having to pick up my wife and left. I have never cared for "forced socialisation" either at school or work. I don't find other people terribly interesting. And I get enough "get to know you" time during work hours.

        Maybe it's because I don't drink. My wife and I have noticed that our drinking friends tend to do these sorts of things after school or work. Whatever.

        GTRacer
        - Would rather socialise at home

  • by billn (5184) on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @08:03AM (#2658978) Homepage Journal
    1. Acquire keg of beer popular among your group of introverts. Declare a standing keg rule: No one pulls their own draft.

    2. Nothing gets people together like a common enemy. Shove a couple at each other, and see how they bond by calling you names.

    3. Utter "Boba Fett is lame." See premise of #2.

    4. Slyly mention that the hot secretary is studying I/COBOL.

    5. Instead of name tags, label people by their choice of editor. Let the ridicule begin.

    6. Variant on #5: Label by choice of OS. Hand out Nerf Bats.

    7. Indian Poker: #6, applied to foreheads without them knowing what the label says. The goal is now to really get someone's ass beat. (AOS/VS is the trump play.)

    8. Set up a (Game Cube|XBox|PS2) or four. Have competitions.

    9. Your favorite and mine, Spin the DIMM-Module!

    10. Counter-Strike Counter-Strike Counter-Strike. (Silly rabbit, Quake is for kids!)

    11. Vodka shots. Declare that first puker gets a weeks bonus PTO. (Deny requests to use it in the event of hangover, however. For suffering to be truly effective, it must be enjoyed by others.)

    12. CP/M Trivial Pursuit!

    13. Strippers. The aggressive kind. You know, Bambi the Leather Terminator.

    14. Say "Vader could kick Gandalf's ass." See #3.

    15. Anime Anime Anime!
    • > 8. Set up a (Game Cube|XBox|PS2) or four. Have competitions.

      You know, this really works. Oh, and don't let 'em play single player games. They will go back to being introvert again. I experienced it first hand with a party of which the party-goers were all geek (also some extrovert ones). Especially games in the style of "Street Fighter" and "Tekken" are good examples

      Lan parties also bring introverts together though.

    • 13. Strippers. The aggressive kind. You know, Bambi the Leather Terminator.

      Or lapdancers:) They always tend to pick guys that really don't appreciate it:P Photograpic proof here [fluimfotos.nl], here [fluimfotos.nl] and here [fluimfotos.nl]. This guy was looking really pissed during a 10 minute lapdance (on his lap) with about 100 people watching>:-)

  • Well... (Score:4, Funny)

    by The 14 year old (208473) <chris AT huntsvilletractor DOT com> on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @08:44AM (#2659040) Homepage
    You could do what i do in The Sims. Just put them all in a small room, and remove the door. They'll get to know eachother
  • by Iamthefallen (523816) <Gmail name: Iamthefallen> on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @08:48AM (#2659049) Homepage Journal

    Speaking for myself as an introvert geek, the worst possible thing at a party/kick-off is to be bunched up with a group of morons to play a stupid social game the point of which is only to make an ass of yourself. Some (management) seem to love this after taking some 2 day team-building class at a spa last winter and they're aching to try it - Avoid this at all costs!

    If these are your average geeks, Developers, Techs, Support personel etc, the most common factor that everyone shares has to be war stories, stupid users|clients|bosses|coding etc, it's the enemy that geeks world wide share and team up to battle. Worst(best?) tale of the eve wins a prize (no matter if it's made up, all to spur creativity and get a few laughs).

    • You could even do a variant on the war stories aproach with a BOFH-off. Who has the best story of vengance against a user. People usually get a kick out of good-humored pain and suffering.

      -OctaneZ
    • This is exactly what I hate most about virtually any party in America: talking shop. I know this is about a company Christmas party, but it applies to virtually any social gathering.

      First you're asked "What do you do?", and once your job classification has been determined, the conversation then:

      1) aborts if the questioner has no idea what it is your talking about. As in, "I'm a network engineer and pretty much diagnose router problems all day". Then, the questioner, a Java hack or marketroid moves on.
      2) proceeds full tilt if the questioner's in your line of work.

      How about talking about a recent non-technical book you've read, the latest play you saw, summer expedition you went on, politics, or anything OTHER THAN WORK? Nope, not possible here.

      American geeks ought to be required to head over to the European continent for six months or so. In many countries there it's consider low class to start a conversation out with, "So whaddya do for a living?" and proceed to talk about your work life.
      • This is very true, at least here in Sweden, you never ask/say what profession you're in as a means of introduction. Nor do you adress someone with their Profession.Name as in Professor Doe, Officer Doe or Dr.Doe.

        However, at an office/department party I think talking shop and current affairs is hard to avoid. So you might aswell try to make it amusing.

      • In many countries there it's consider low class to start a conversation out with, "So whaddya do for a living?" and proceed to talk about your work life.

        Why is that? Aren't Europeans interested in what others do for a living or is it to save face if you are unemployed? That only leaves one safe topic to talk about: the weather.

        • by laetus (45131)
          No, it's a recognition that there are other things to life than your cubicle. Anyone can talk about what they do for a living, even a streetsweeper.

          A more developed individual has other interests and activities which he or she can converse about. Not just real-life Dilbert episodes.
          • So your suggestion for a good ice-breaker would be...?

            • By asking me what a good ice-breaker would be.
              • I'm not disputing your point. I'll take it as given that "Whaddaya do?" is a lame opening. And I'll take it as given that I and whatever social groups to which I belong tend to use it for lack of anything better.

                I'm asking, what's your solution? How would you strike up a conversation with someone you've just met at, say, an office Christmas party? Or better, your spouse's office party?

                • OK, by this time I realize you're trolling, but I'll answer this one last time. See my original post:

                  How about talking about a recent non-technical book you've read, the latest play you saw, summer expedition you went on, politics, or anything OTHER THAN WORK?

                  I mean, jeez, you really need me to give you talking points for starting a conversation? In a world as varied as we live in there's an infinite number of things to talk about. Books, wars, movies, cloning, plays, civil rights, charities, volunteer work, your phrickin Zodiac sign, ....

                  Still need help? Here's a geek solution:

                  Google Search - Converation Starters [google.com]

                • Last movie you saw, or may want to see ?

                  Family, if they have kids it is ALWAYS a good ice breaker.

                  Music, bought, heard any thing new recently ?

                  Of course there is the only real alternative here in the US at a business function...Sports/GOLF :( While I personally despise golf it seems to be ONE non work topic that spans worlds.
          • Heretic!

            In America there's nothing outside of the cubical and/or work. Report to the nearest reeducation center immediately!
            • by ksheff (2406)

              That's right!

              I do nothing but get up, go to work, come home, read email, work on my computers or look at slashdot & other sites and then go to sleep. On the weekends, I do the same thing except I do it all day, except for the 3 hours when I'm in church on Sunday.

          • Anyone can talk about what they do for a living, even a streetsweeper.

            I can't. I just say "same old stuff."
        • or is it to save face if you are unemployed?

          No, it's to save face if your ARE employed, most socialites (not I said socialites not socialists) are so filthy rich (really Old Money) they don't work.

          ...leaves one safe topic to talk about: the weather.

          No we have some thing else in Europe called Culture, which is very popular amongst polite society.
      • It was long considered low class in the US as well. It just seems that many of us have forgotten this fact.
      • How about talking about a recent non-technical book you've read

        What's a non-technical book?

        the latest play you saw

        What's a play? Is that one of them cult-choor-al things?

        summer expedition

        Expedition??? Wouldn't that involve going OUTSIDE????? What are you, some kind of freak?

        PS: ;)
      • First you're asked "What do you do?", and once your job classification has been determined, the conversation then:
        Well, that depends where you live, really. The classic "two questions by location" are:

        New York: Where do you work? How much do you earn?

        Chicago: What neighborhood do you live in? What high school did you go to?

        California: What are your interests? Are you happy?

        That may have changed a bit with the dot com/dot bomb culture, but maybe not!

        sPh

    • if management makes you play a stupid social game, then isn't making management the enemy giving people something to bond about.
  • by codexus (538087) on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @09:29AM (#2659175)
    People who like these kind of social interactions always try to force others to do the same. It's like it's mandatory to have fun at these things. Make a xmas party for those who like this kind of stuff and let the others go home and play videogames or whatever they like to do. People are not all the same, so respect that.
  • by Digital Mage (124845) on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @09:38AM (#2659199)

    I'm off the chart when it comes to introversion, so I might be able to help you here (and help myself become a little more extroverted).

    The biggest thing to remember with introverts is that we like small intimate parties with people we know. The maximum number of people you want to strive for is about 30 (varies with the introverts). If you can, try to run many small Christmas parties as opposed to one big blow out. If you have to do the big blow out celebration, try and seat people according to their co-workers (we hate having to sit next to people who we have no connection with).

    Other than that, we aren't much different. We like music, food, beer, entertainment, belly dancers, etc. I saw one suggestion in the posts that was cool, 4-player party video games.

    Good Luck!

    • > I saw one suggestion in the posts that was cool, 4-player party video games.

      A Marble Madness, Joust, or Gauntlet machine rented from an old-school "classic game" operator will run you a few hundred bucks for an evening (Sounds expensive, but consider the weight of the thing and that the operator has to travel to your place to plug it in. Time and hassle is money.) and be a great way to either bring out the introverted geeks amongst each other.

      Even if there's only one introvert, it'll give him something to do while waiting for the party to end ;-)

  • by COBOL/MVS (196516) <arghernaNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @09:42AM (#2659213) Homepage Journal
    My company (an IT consulting/staffing firm) throws very successful parties.
    Some of the things that make the party successful:
    1. Lots of food. Not just any food, but good, high-quality food. The philosophy is that food relaxes you. Things like Shrimp, fried things (chicken wings, chipoltas, etc.), veggies, fruit, cookies--comfort food.
    2. A bar with everything. Mixed drinks, beer, soda, water, whatever.
    3. People greeting you at the door with a huge smile. Even if it isn't sincere, it can be very effective in getting people to relax and feel comfortable.
    4. Good party music. Hire a good DJ with a decent sound system. It's good if the DJ doesn't get too involved in the party; too many games may scare off some of the introverts.
    5. The most important thing to getting people to relax and open up is to invite upper management to the party. If they're personable folk, they'll mingle and enjoy the party too. Our upper management always attends all of our company
      parties, wherever they are in the country.


    One caveat is that you need to be prepared to spend a lot of money. You do these things and I guarantee you that everyone will open up and let their hair down.
  • Dirty Santa (Score:2, Informative)

    by Catiline (186878)
    The method used in my workplace is a 'game' called Dirty Santa. This works only at Xmas time, of course...

    Everyone brings a gift (about $5-$10 value). They all go (wrapped but completely unlabeled) into a pile. Everyone draws a number (no gift, no number). #1 goes first (of course), and picks a gift. #2 gets to either a) pick a gift or b) steal from #1 (who then must open another gift from under the tree). #3 can open a present or steal from either #2 or #1, and so forth. When it's all over, #1 gets one final chance to steal from anyone at all (since they had to open a present at the start).

    Generally, this starts holiday parties very well- good gifts like (chocolates are a perrenial fav) get stolen frequently while, well, boobie prizes get lumped on the poor sap who ended up opening them.
    • Not sure why...

      Anyhow, this is a great way to get a party going, or at least a good way to have fun!

      Some of my most fond memories of "work parties" were xmas parties that did this game. Beware, though - while it can work with larger crowds, typically things fall apart after about 30-40 people. Plus it can get REAL boring with a ton of people, just due to the number of switches (oh, yeah - limit the number of times a gift can be stolen to about 3-4 times, otherwise the exchange can go on nearly forever!)...

      Some interesting gifts I have seen:

      1. Old programmer box - complete with 70's style desk fan, LED HP programmer's calculator, old code printout (on greenbar, of course), etc.
      2. Box of "helpful" items for help desk people (aspirin, earplugs, alcohol, etc)
      3. A red "government" (anyway, the sticker said "Property of US Govt" on it) security phone, complete with trailing PBX wires

      Of the three (and there were more), number 3 was most interesting - never did find out who brought that one.

      I once managed to snag a most useful item (at least for the summer): An ice cream machine. However, this was no ordinary ice cream maker: this one was special. It works by putting the ice cream mixture inside the mixing cannister, then you sit the whole thing in the freezer, and the motor stirs the mixture, while simultaneously circulating the cold air around the cannister, gradually freezing it. When it gets to a certain consistancy, the paddle stops (simply because the motor can't provide any more torque), and you can remove the ice cream and eat it (at that point, it is like homemade soft serve), or put it in another container to freeze it solid (like regular ice cream). Yum!
    • Actually, I am usually against this kind of crap....But I have a very large extended family who live in close proximity to myself and big holiday gatherings are unavoidable. For the last two years we have "played" this "game" at the christmas get-together and it has been great. The more diverse the gifts the better...
  • by sphealey (2855) on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @10:13AM (#2659323)
    Why is it that "extroverts" (assuming that any of these personality models have any validity, which I think is quite open to question) feel that it is their duty to force others to be like them? And that doing so will make the lives of others better?

    If the "introverts" among you decided to force the "extroverts" to sit facing the wall reading Slashdot for 12 hours "for their own good", would the "extroverts" find that acceptable? If not, then why do they think it is acceptable to force others to behave the way they think best in the name of "fun" or "loosening up"?

    sPh
    • No - your boss has no right to make you play party games.

      The last time a boss of mine tried that I resigned. She threatened me with the amazing line 'I'll make your fecking life hell next week if you don't get into that sumo suit!'.

      I told her I would rather watch the girls dancing in the corner and drink some more whisky, sumo wasn't really my thing, I didn't have the ass for it.

      I think I suggested that she did have the ass for it... I'm unsure. (she didn't, she had a nice ass... I hope I didn't say anything nasty about her ass)

      She threatened again, suggesting I wasn't much of a team player if I didn't put on a few bits of rubber and try to bash john from accounts out of the ring.

      I told her I'd happily leave her precious team on Monday if she would just shut the hell up for 10 minutes and go annoy someone else. She didn't. I did.

      I'm sure she thought her promotion hung on getting all the 'computer guys' into those damn sumo suits before her boss left. god!
  • Leave us alone! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Chilly Willy (72216) <spamhole.gigservices@com> on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @10:25AM (#2659380) Homepage
    We're introverts! Get over it. We don't *want* to be artificial extroverts. Have your party and enjoy yourselves. We'll go home and have our own lives, thank you very much.
    And besides that, you are co-workers, *not* friends. I don't want to be your friend. I don't want to know about your relationship problems or your bad back or how many miles you ran over the weekend. Just back the hell up and let me do my job, okay?
    • Yup. Ditto. Second. If I wanted to spend time with you, I would. I'm sure you've either made it clear that a) you're available for such things if I so desire or b) you'd do it out of pity. But no thanks. Oh, and if YOU think that's 'anti-social' or 'a piss-poor attitude' or 'not a team player' than you've got far more problems with social interaction than I ever will. :-)
    • You want me to quit? Force me to attend such a party.

      Don't get me wrong. I will kill myself trying to help any coworker overcome a technical problem where I have expertise. I don't even have to like them, and might even loathe them because of philosophical differences (I am an NRA-supporting libertarian and defend the ideals in the American Bill of Rights and Constitution) -- but I am paid to get a job done and I do it.

      But, to relax, the last thing I want to do is hang out with the guy who took off for a vacation while I cleaned up his code.

      I want to hang around with people who, if they weren't coding for a living, would do it for fun anyway. Like many geeks, I eat, sleep, and dream code. For fun, I design architectures to let me stream digital audio/video from a central server in the home to various media terminal set-top boxes (silent, of course). I networked my home myself (nothing like straddling ceiling joists in the attic above the family room with the cathedral ceiling). I freak out the telco people when they see my headend ("Really, it's done, I hooked the DSL pair to the demarc last night when I got the call it was live. Don't touch that -- it's the RJ-31x that lets the alarm system seize the POTS pair: you'll set the siren off if you break the connection.").

      In short, what we geeks consider fun is the very thing non-geeks want to avoid.

      I suppose you could try to arrange a LAN party, if a lot of your geeks are gamers, but don't try to get geeks to mix socially with non-geeks.

      • I thought cathedral ceilings kinda ruled out attics. (floor > living space > sheetrock > rafters > roof sheathing > tar paper > shingles)
        • Depends on how it was designed. Most houses today have attics above cathedral ceilings. The roof is 6/12, and the ceiling is 4/12, or something like that. This is pretty much a requirement in cold areas, so you can afford to heat the room.

        • I'm using the term "cathedral ceiling" to refer to a 12 foot ceiling as opposed to an 8 to 8-1/2 foot one.

          My house has two stories, but the second story has about half the floor space of the first: the unavailable part has an attic over the cathedral ceiling in the family/formal living/formal dining rooms.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...is marijuana.
  • Relax? (Score:3, Funny)

    by larien (5608) on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @10:47AM (#2659490) Homepage Journal
    Easy, just find some incense stick with, uh, 'interesting' additions :) That'll get everyone to relax.

    The unfortunate side-effect is that you might get locked up for dealing an illegal substance...

  • by Anonymous Coward
    So-called "introverts" are usually suffering from any number of serious psychologically recognized conditions. They could be schizoid (no motivation for social contact), avoidant, schizophrenic or chronically depressed.
    Brow-breating such borderline personalities to consume alcohol and "just be more social" is a bad idea from the start.
    Now, before you mod me a flamer, bear in mind there *are* simply "shy" people that can be (and want to be) coaxed out of their shells. A party atmosphere (preferably w/o alcohol) is a good way to go there, but, again, I'm afraid it's hard to tell if someone's a bit shy or seriously depressed. Would you want to give someone alcohol in that condition?
  • 2 Words.

    Doobie Snacks!
  • Mix in lots of chardonnay for 3-4 hours, followed by yucky micro-brew (are you listening Triumph?), then a small glass of Jack Daniels and CocaCola. Buy a pair of socks at the shoe store next to the bar for no reason. Shake all the ingredients well by falling out of your boss's Chev Tahoe.
  • It's worked for me!
  • Don't do it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tet (2721) <slashdotNO@SPAMastradyne.co.uk> on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @11:43AM (#2659751) Homepage Journal
    encourage light banter and to get people meeting each other, which would make this party a big success?

    A big success in whose eyes? The people you're supposedly throwing the party for, or those in upper and middle management who want to see everyone "bonding" like they do. If you company is really full of introverts, then if they're anything like me, they won't enjoy the sort of party you're trying to set up. As others have pointed out, introverts have no desire to have others force them to be artificially extrovert. Let them be, and accept that the party won't be what you'd traditionally expect it to be. That doesn't mean the participants won't be enjoying themselves. Just that their idea of fun is probably different to yours.

  • This reminds me of a dumb old sketch by Chris Rock about 'reverse racism', where he complained that he was tired of being specially treated because he was black. If you want the introverts to enjoy themselves, just let them be.

    I'm one such introvert and I totally hate parties because I either sit alone and vedge out until its over, or spend all evening bitching about the stupid games and annoying idiots that try to chat me up out of pity.

    If you want to cater to the geeks, give them the flexibility to organise their own party according to *their* likes and tastes. For my friends and I, we like individual-centric entertainment. Think paintball, go-kart racing, bowling, LAN parties; anything that doesn't involve teams (well ok, Quake CTF is the sole exception). Many of us were the kind of folks who were always picked last on teams, and as such we just learned to hate the concept altogether.

    Food is anyone's guess. Again in my own group of friends, we like to keep it simple. Pizza, poutine or good old cold cuts. And good beer! Labatt Blue for the feeble, Guinness and Heineken for the connaisseurs :) Don't forget vodka or wine-based coolers for the sissies.

    Then comes the tricky part : music. As it just happens, I'm a music freak. I am very picky and discerning about my aural sensations. You don't need to hire a stupid DJ (since all the good ones have regular gigs and don't do house calls), but just don't put on those anal-retentive DJ MC Gino Bling-Bling Mega-Hit-Mix-XP compilations and let it repeat all night (the 'shuffle' function doesn't help, either). Have someone throw together a decent playlist for good variety and let the mp3's stream all night, but most importantly hide the stereo so people don't start nagging you to play their favorite Yoko Ono records.

    So basically, keep it smallish, keep it simple, and most importantly : listen to what the people want in a party. It isn't *your* party, it's *everyone's* party.
    • by cr0sh (43134)
      I once worked at a small "mom-and-pop" style development house. Our office was situated in a small complex, on the second floor. The first floor of the complex was unused. For a couple of years while I was there, for Christmas we would open up that bottom floor (it was used for storage by the company), and have the party there.

      Since there was no walls, etc inside, and a concrete floor - damn near anything could be done. We set up a dart board, food, etc - but the fun thing we would play was this funky little R/C car game.

      At one time, these cars were made as a kit of four cars, but I would imagine enterprising geeks could build their own system. Essentially, each car was controlled by a person, goals were set up, and boundries were set, and there was a ball - the goal? Get the ball into a goal, and score a point. The cars ate batteries like popcorn, but simply buying a ton of batteries would keep everything going for a long time.

      Today, I don't know if you can get cars, but you can get the cheap and cheesy retail "battlebots" sold at places like Walgreen's - these are radio controlled (or IR) that could be had fun with, too...
  • I've got one advice for you. Booze, lots of booze...
  • Briggs-Meyers! (Score:5, Informative)

    by coyote-san (38515) on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @11:57AM (#2659803)
    This question is a classic example of why many people strongly oppose letting the general public have access to psychological tests!

    Being an "introvert" or "extrovert" on Briggs-Meyers indicates something very different than you seem to think. It does not mean that an "introvert" is shy, has poor social skills, can't get laid, whatever. Nor does it mean that an "extrovert" means is a slope-headed moron who can only bond with friends and coworkers with a beer in one hand and a football game on the TV.

    Instead, it refers to the way the person relates to the world. IIRC, extroverts tend to look towards outside authority - the boss says we should we name tags and introduce ourselves to three strangers, so This Is Good. Extroverts tend to be uncomfortable in totally unstructured environments, so they "plan parties," etc. Sound familiar?

    Introverts tend to look towards inside authority - the boss says we're too dumb to remember our own name and lack the social skills to say hello to strangers outside of this highly artificial environment. He thinks we're a bunch of losers, gee aren't we having fun here! I'm glad he forced us to come to this damn party... on the bright side, he's probably too dumb to realize that our animated conversations are discussions of writing effective resumes to get out of this Hellhole. This Is Bad. Introverts are comfortable in unstructured environments.

    If your office is mostly introverts, respect that. Make some plans for the extroverts (who are less comfortable in totally unstructured environments), but leave the introverts alone. If you try to force them to participate, you'll just breed resentment. If you just provide food, alcohol and space the party will be considered a success because they'll all do whatever they think is fun.
    • If you just provide food, alcohol and space the party will be considered a success because they'll all do whatever they think is fun.

      In the words of Stephen Hawking on the Simpsons "That's the smartest thing I've heard all day"
    • You're right: it's a very bad interpretation of the MBTI. However, I think your reading of Introvert/Extrovert is a slightly out.

      It's definately everything to do with how people relate to the outside world, but it's where you get your inspiration from. You're an extrovert if you get it from other people and an introvert if you're more self contained.

      The structured/unstructured aspect has more to do with the Sensing/Intuition (how you percieve things) or Thinking/Feeling (lifestyle) axis.

      Have a look at this site [inav.net] for more details. (Funny but oddly accurate.)
  • Ok, so here's what everyone has suggested...

    Don't invite me, I don't want to go...
    but if you do, there better be good food...
    and you better lock us in...
    but no lame games...
    but plenty of [alcohol/controlled substances]...
    and [lan games/playstation/etc]...
    but not too many people or I won't go...
    but they can have a good time if you make them all hate *you*...
    so let's just raid the pharmacy and mix some drinks.
  • Maybe instead of an X-mas party you need to have an XXX-mas party
  • Since I have no idea what Reindeer games are.... how about Taliban games?
    • Have a big Osama cake so everyone can have a piece of his head to eat.
    • Get a big map of Afghanistan and play a game of "pin the bomb on Osama." Put down friendly forces with negative points and Taliban and Al Qaida forces in caves and villages with variing points. Play blind folded like pin the tail on the donkey.
    • Or use darts on said map (w/ or w/out blindfold).
    • Have the boss swap paychecks with the winner.
    • Or put Osama on said dartboard.
    • Have a white elephant gift exchange. Arrange for one person to wrap up a cheap can of mexican beer. That happened last year and it was hilarious. I'm thinking about a toilet seat this year.... maybe a CD of all the computer virusses you can find. Or stock in Enron.
    • Play poker with AOL CD's.
    • Play Risk with an empty hole where Afghanistan used to be...


    OK, some of those ideas suck... but some might work.

  • Make it Optional (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hether (101201)
    That will save you a lot of trouble and cut down on your planning. Let the true introverts go home and do their own thing.

    If that's not an option, I strongly second the idea below that social games that are intended to force people to cooperate or interact should be avoided at all costs - especially ones where you are forced to make animal sounds. I liked that when I was about 10, but am not comfortable with that now and doubt many others are either.

    Actually, forced participation in anything, even a gift exchange, is wrong. That should be optional too. Just let people do their own thing.
  • by willhelm (12091) on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @12:53PM (#2660128) Homepage
    Serve alcohol--not so much to get people wasted, but to take the edge off.

    Get one of the projectors from marketing, hook it up to a laptop with a serious 3d video card, and do the tunes with Winamp or some other player that has the ability for visual plug-ins like Geiss or something pretty that people can literally just stare at.

    And get rid of the flourescent lights. Do some other lighting so people can see other people's faces, but aren't exposed to blaring light irritation.

    Provide seating to. Most introverts I know are pretty non-excited about their bodies and feel awkward standing up which just causes them to be more shy than usual.

    Don't run around telling people to have fun because it's a company party--that's just irritating.
  • Handy Tip: Provide something of better quality than Rolling Rock.
  • I've learned, IF I go to these things, I stay for the food, and then leave. Unless there is smoke in the room, then I won't even enter.

    I don't drink, don't force me to, I'll quit first.

    I know a few people at work I will talk to. But my life isn't my work. I'd prefer to be back home melting metal or some other hooby than playing some silly game.

  • I can't belive that I read all the way down here... sheesh!
  • by SpacePunk (17960)
    You people sound like a bunch of ill-mannered anti-social sad-sacks.
  • Be sure to publicize the date well in advance. This will allow me to cultivate a case of 24-hour flu which will keep me out of the way of the "fun-lovers".

    Since, as a personal choice, I avoid crowds of loud and/or drunk people upon whom I am not allowed to practice violence, I refuse to attend office parties. (Have you ever been forced to smile when a drunken Vice-President throws a glass of beer in your face? Been there. Not going back.)

  • Great Egg Race (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Rupert (28001) on Wednesday December 05, 2001 @01:28PM (#2660368) Homepage Journal
    a.k.a. Junkyard Wars, a.k.a. The Ultimate Architect.

    So, there were a few hundred geeks in Las Vegas last week for Windows Embedded DevCon. Thursday night was the XP Embedded launch party. The musical act was Credence Clearwater Revisited, with warm-up provided by the product manager's band. Sounds terrible, right?

    Wrong. Because in one corner of the room, 10 teams of 4 geeks each were frantically collecting parts to build a device capable of transporting a full glass of beer across a flat 10 meter track. That was the most fun I've ever had at a work-related party.

    Here's my recipe:
    Pick your objective. It should be acheiveable, but challenging;
    Give each team the absolute essentials (wheel, motors);
    Put everything else (mix up Meccano, Lego, string, glue, bits of plumbing, stuff) on a big table in the middle, and keep it covered until the starting whistle blows;
    Three hours seems about the right length of time. Adjust if your objective is particularly challenging;
    Make sure someone is keeping the teams fed and watered;
    Encourage strained interpretations of the rules (e.g. string can be used as a guidance system, but not as propulsion);
    Award several prizes (fastest; best design; most colorful and so on)
  • 151 works well
  • Get a well-stocked bar, some good food, a decent DJ that
    plays a wide variety of (good) music[1], and a few
    game consoles with multiplayer party-friendly games[2].
    If people dig the games, set up a projector and have contests. Remember, tho, this is a /party/ not a videogame tourney.

    Above all, do NOT play dumb, forced-interaction party games.
    The only thing these will do is either annoy or freak out the people you're trying to entertain.
    Gift exchanges are dumb, too. No one wants to go shopping, let alone shop for something that means nothing to them.

    Basically, don't force people to do anything, just make a fun environment where people will /want/ to do stuff.

    C-X C-S
    [1] No Britney Spears or similar cheesy pop-dance music. I have yet to meet a nerd that likes that stuff.
    [2] Kung-fu fighting games, racing games, shooters, etc.
    N64 has prolly the best selection of 'party' games right now, and it's cheap to boot.
  • comfort zones (Score:2, Insightful)

    I for one have never understood the concept of drugging yourself into stupidly as a form of having fun. Nor am I of the type to endlessly discuss inanities of the latest instantiation of "the circus". The "bread and circus" appreciators (extraverts) need to recognize that others have things they would rather do with their life than waste it discussing wasting it. Those that don't get into this behavior mode get labeled as introverts and social misfits when the reality is that they have much broader horizons of interest that turn the extraverts off. Get a group with common interests together in a non-threatening atmosphere (e.g. no extraverts sneering at them for not knowing the ins and outs of the latest fad) and they can have enjoyable times. The problem can be that there are many different subjects to discuss and this lowers the probability of encountering common cause. Over time introverts tend to give up on "parties" as boring and sneer filled.

    Go with the basics- Good food -variety here. Remember that there are people with food allergies and they don't want to get uncomfortable having to explain why they aren't "appreciative" of the generosity. Nore do they want to go hungry when others are eating.

    Good drinks- again variety - there are people that don't drink alcohol for religious, medical, addiction or other reasons and they don't want to get uncomfortable having to explain that either. Many introverts don't appreciate dealing with drunks either. Your company may not appreciate the liability.

    You can make the food and drinks a topic of conversation and exploration by having various countries represented. Introverts tend to explore more than extraverts. (After one unenjoyable party why waste time at the next)

    Music- you might try several areas each with a different type and not so loud that it disturbs conversation.

    Don't forget the eye candy, but forget about smell and touch, too many strong emotions/liabilities there.

    Do not try to force conversation but encourage it by creating a variety of situations where any given individual can find a comfort zone. Also try encouraging conversations in topics that people are comfortable with and can find others with similar interests. Give each person a nametag and urge them to put two or more topics they are comfortable with on it. This cuts down on both the bother of name remembrance and topic discovery protocol. These can be killers for introverts.

    Remember that there is more to life than football and gossip. Finding other topics quickly and easily is a problem.

  • For the most part 'icebreakers' are worthless and annoying, to both the extroverts (who find them pointless) and the introverts (who will resist them). Something that happened at a school party last night might be interesting, tho... A "snowball fight" using marshmallows. I'll warn you ahead of time to NOT do this in a carpeted area or near upholstry, since the marshmallows will get squished and make a mess. If you have a parking garage, or good weather for an outdoor lot, you've got a great setup.
  • Hit them until they hit back. Voila! You've turned that introvert into an extrovert!
    • BAD IDEA!

      You have no idea how bad an idea that is.

      Er, when some of us get mad enough to hit back, it's with intent to kill. What part of leave me alone don't you understand?

  • You said X-Mas party, right? Heh heh.

    Seriously though, MDMA was successfully used for over a decade in psychiatric settings to help introverted individuals and couples break out of their respective shells. Within a half hour of ingestion, ego defenses will melt away and you will have a room full of chatty nerds (don't blame me, it sounds like that's what you're asking for here). Just be sure to have plenty of water, some comfy couches, and some multivitamin + amino acid tablets for afterwards to ease the infamous hangovers. Don't forget to have a lot of condoms on hand in case these people try to do something about their minor office crushes. Ahem.

    Skip the lollipops, vapo-rub, and glow sticks. Only rave kids and cops believe that these things are good accessories for MDMA.

  • Baby oil. A big tarp. Everyone is beautiful. A "safe word". Anything goes!
  • #1 DO NOT HOLD it at work...

    #2 DO NOT INVITE THE BOSS

    #3 ensure items #1 and #2 are taken care of, things will go well from there...

    #4 Think about how to get home :)
  • My experience with introverts is that they are quite happy to talk to people for hours on end, providing that they 1. have someone to talk to, and 2. have something to talk about.

    Pick a set of questions (at university, "what subject are you reading?" works well; I'm sure you can find appropriate questions for your introverts). Tell people that when they run into someone for the first time, they should ask/answer the 3-5 questions you chose. If you prefer, you could make it a contest ("get as many people as possible to answer these questions" or suchlike) but that really isn't necessary.

    Once people know the fields, hobbies, musical tastes, etc of the people they are talking to, they are far more likely to continue talking.
  • DOs and DONTs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by weave (48069) on Thursday December 06, 2001 @08:43AM (#2664338) Journal
    As an introvert at heart, especially at parties, let me list the DOs and DONTs that have impressed upon me from other parties I've been at. Some of these are repeats that others have said, so consider it a reinforcement of their ideas to. (This assumes a company function and due to timing, I'd say Christmas party.)

    DONTs

    • Don't talk about work problems. Talking shop among peers is fine, but damn, I hate it when people come up to me at a party and discuss their computer problems.
    • Don't force people into social or team building activities. Maybe my idea of a good time is to just relax and sit around. I get enough stress during a work day. I don't want to worry about if I'm playing some stupid game correctly.
    • Play music, but try to be a bit creative. If I hear "Celebration" one more time I will go postal. I also hate those typical line-dancing songs but a lot of people seem to enjoy them so I don't mind, but don't make me do it too. "Come on, everyone come learn how to do the line dance for..." Also, vary the music some. At parties our SGA run for students, they *ONLY* play rap music. Black rap music. And finding unobjectionable rap music means all the good shit isn't played. I don't mind rap, but play a little something for everyone, OK? (As for rap, I'd love to hear someone play Limp Bizkit's uncensored Break Stuff but I'm not holding out any hope. Hmm, or "N 2 Gether Now" would be perfect... STFU!).

    DOs

    • High-end administrative staff changes roles. They serve food, drinks, wait on people, even do trash runs.
    • Play music, but see above.
    • Dim lighting
    • Don't make a dress code. Yeah, have seen this.
    • Unstructured.
    • If I want to leave it shouldn't be made difficult (block alternative exits) or deterred by having some VP or similar greeting people as they come and go.
    • Food and lots of different food. Have Dominos make runs every 10 minutes even (and don't forget to tip them well damn it). Have lots of places to sit to eat it. It's impossible to hold a plate, a drink, and consume them while standing. (At one large employee function I went to, the local pizza chain, Grottos, has a tractor trailer that goes to large events and makes and serves real fresh pizza from it. Wow, that was a geek dream come true.)
    • NOT MANDATORY. If I don't want to come, that's my business.
    • No name tags. These are especially insultive when they pre-print them with all employee names and if your name isn't picked up, your supervisor asks you the next day why you didn't go and forces you to fill out a leave form. Name tags when used like this are so obviously an attendance device that it just causes massive resentment.
    • No administrative speeches. No formal thank you for a job well done speeches. These often fall into administrators also thanking each other for their leadership, patting each other on the back, etc, etc... I get that all year long, I don't need it at a function allegedly for the employee's enjoyment.

    Better yet, forget the entire idea. If a company wants to wish employees a happy Christmas for example, use the money and give them an extra day off so they can spend it with people they really care about... And do it on Dec 26, not the 24th or 23rd, else we'll just spend it at the Mall. Many countries have Boxing Day, the U.S. needs it too!

  • If you chat while fragging, is that enough communication?

Reality must take precedence over public relations, for Mother Nature cannot be fooled. -- R.P. Feynman

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