Now's the time of year that office and HR managers across London realise they really should start booking that office Christmas do. For any small workplace keen to do something alternative, participative, unusual, affordable and more interesting that your average turkey lunch, we've got ideas for you.
All these suggestions are gleaned from things we've done, people we know and stuff we've spotted. They should all be bookable for December weekdays (subject to availability), be priced at less than £50 per head and suit groups of up to 20 or 30 people.
Learn to uke Get your whole team singing from the same song sheet as you learn to play a song on the ukulele in just an hour or two with the strumming supremos of Musivate. If Team Londonist can do it (just) then so can you. Great as a musical warm up before Christmas lunch or as a main event — add drinks to the mix and you'll be creating a Christmas music video in no time. From £38 per person for groups of 15 or more.
Climb inside a pumping station A corporate climbing session is a great way to a) build up an appetite for Christmas dinner b) postpone drink o'clock c) team build d) have fun e) keep fit f) it goes on. We did this in 2013 and the instructor was great, getting us all to climb walls to suit our abilities/ambition and rounding off with an indoor abseil. Find out what your colleagues are like with heights, physical and mental challenges, ropes and boulders for around £30/head at the Castle Climbing Centre, Stoke Newington or one of these other great climbing centres.
Craft for Christmas Homemade London will throw you a Christmas Craft Party featuring mini activities so the less artistically inclined won't feel massively exposed when they can't create the perfect Christmas card. Try customising fairy lights and stockings, creating garlands, cards, tree candles and decorations in a two-hour workshop with nibbles and prosecco for £40 per person for a group of 10. Contact Nicola for more details.
Let rip with spray cans Leave your collective creative mark on the Leake Street graffiti tunnel with a Camden Street Art Tours grafitti workshop. Learn the basics of spray can painting and unleash your creativity in two hours with a jovial and charming instructor for £40 per person. Or take the Camden Street Art tour and customise it to the interests of your group.
Crazy golf underground It's just £9 a head to play crazy golf in a tunnel under Waterloo Station in December. Birdies Crazy Golf offers a bespoke nine-hole course with a cocktail bar on site and a party atmosphere. If your Christmas do doesn't have to be in central London, venture further afield for dinosaur mini golf.
Video games Gaming's not just for geeks. Let your teams go head to head in games like Singstar, Dance Party, FIFA, Racing Games or Call of Duty. Gamewagon Events can set up inflatable gaming pods in your office or bring multiple Game Wagons to you and customise a gaming party to your interests from around £20 per head.
Bubble football Nothing like being encased in a big plastic bubble, running around chasing a ball and barging into your colleagues, to break the ice. Loads of places offer bubble football in London these days — look, we gathered them here and lots of people left suggestions in the comments.
Skittles The only place you can play old English skittles in London is at the Freemason's Arms in Hampstead. Up to 20 people can hire out its traditional bowling alley, get coached by an expert, then let the games begin! Beer is optional, as is dinner, but highly recommended. Book here.
Christmas lights Meet Jo Moncrieff of Westminster Walks in a cosy pub then tour the Christmas lights with a few hidden passageways, posh shops, food and drink stories and other nuggets, then end up in another pub. Jolly festive, and you'll learn something too. Contact Jo here.
Geeky London Our very own Laurence Scales specialises in London walks featuring the curious history of discovery, invention and intelligence in London. Whether you're into science, engineering, spies, eccentrics, innovators or all of the above and more, this is the guide for you. Check out the tour menu or contact Laurence for a walk designed around your geeky needs.
Where you work How much do you and your colleagues know about central London? Be it Mayfair, Marylebone, Soho, Fitzrovia, Strand or Covent Garden Pete Berthoud will show you things you've never noticed before. Tell him what you're interested in (beer, chocolate, crafting, music, films — really, just about anything!) and an experience designed to suit your group with a festive twist will ensue. Contact Pete to discuss the options.
Facts and fibs Can you tell London facts from fibs? Find out with a Liar's Tour of London. At each stop on these entertaining, interactive walks full of stories, members of the tour read out two prepared scripts. One of these is true, the other a highly plausible lie. Will you make the right choice and win a token or pay an unusual forfeit? The tours can take place in a number of London locations, pick yours and contact London Street Tours for bookings.
Got another great idea for a quirky Christmas party in London? Leave a comment below.