Some of the best corporate event ideas in Chicago are the ones you’d never think of, and some are just really great versions of things pretty much everyone loves. Regardless of the kind of vibe you’re going for, the Windy City has loads of great options to dazzle groups both big and small. When your team members can really let their guard down and connect on a human level, everyone benefits. Without further ado, our list of 12 creative corporate event ideas in Chicago:
1. Roll up your sleeves and spraypaint some walls.
Chicago’s got some of the world’s best street murals, and your team can join in the tradition at Native312. Local artists and Native312 staff lead your team in learning about street art, and of course making some on their graffiti wall. Everyone walks away with a take-home canvas of art the team has created. And unique souvenirs at corporate events are truly underrated, aren’t they? Hang some around the office and you’ll have a constant reminder of that awesome afternoon you all spent together.
2. Book an incredible Peerspace.
Chicago’s got creativity and style for days, so the city’s various Peerspaces offer something for every taste. Stir up some cocktails and take in the breathtaking view in this totally offbeat loft, or maybe watch a classic movies while you sip and dine at this super-secret speakeasy. Our Concierge team can even help you with all the additional details, from catering to entertainment and furniture rentals—whatever you might need, really. After all, what better way to bond with the team than to escape the office and mingle somewhere really cool?
3. Take game night up a notch.
Sometimes you want something entertaining but laid-back, and Game Night Out fosters a fun, casual attitude. They’ve developed a program of party games that are based on old classics but are totally original, and your group can play them all. This one’s for smaller teams, since they cap out at 24 participants. Game Night Out boasts that their activities “turn colleagues into teammates,” and at the end of the day that’s what you’re going for, isn’t it?
4. Stir up a signature cocktail.
Every company has things like its own logo and its own tagline. Why not its own cocktail? Private bartending services for events abound, but a fine choice in Chicago is Bartend Chicago. Serving a cocktail menu with a special drink or two particular to your company instantly elevates a corporate party. We can spend all day coming up with wildly unique corporate event ideas in Chicago, but sometimes you’re looking for something pretty mainstream with just a little bit of a twist. This is a great option, and your maybe your team will even make their signature drink a tradition.
5. Blow off some steam by hurling axes.
It’s a bonafied craze at this point. If your team hasn’t tried it yet, now’s the time. Axe throwing has taken the nation by storm, and while we admit we were skeptical at first, now we’re believers. It’s way more fun than you might expect. It’s physical but not particularly strenuous, and it’s a unique alternative to the more mainstream fare like bowling nights or batting cages. The most well-known spot in Chicago is Bad Axe Throwing, and another solid alternative is Backyard Axe Throwing League. You can bring your own food for either, but alcohol isn’t allowed at axe throwing venues in Chicago, so this is a great option for a drink-free event.
6. Hit the kitchen for some Cake Boss meets Iron Chef action.
Group cooking classes are a great corporate event idea all on their own, but places like the renowned culinary institute at Kendall College kick it up a notch. Kendall’s got an awesome event called Let Them Eat Cake. Corporate groups split into two teams, then learn some high-end cake baking tactics from some of the city’s best bakers. Then they face off in a competition to see who can bake the tastiest cake. Of course, at the end everyone gets to chow down.
7. Participate in some good old fashioned espionage.
Safehouse is a spy-themed restaurant and experiential space. It’s extremely Instagrammable, totally unique, and loads of fun. They’re accustomed to hosting corporate events, so they’ve got packages that cater to a variety of groups. They can even facilitate upbeat bartending challenges where group members can fake off as “spytenders” against each other for some friendly competition.
8. Get retro in a barcade.
Barcades (also called beercades) are growing in popularity across the country, and Chicago’s got a great one in Headquarters. Headquarters has over 70 vintage arcade games, as well as craft beer, creative cocktails, and excellent food. It’s in a huge warehouse space, so groups of up to 750 people can be accommodated. Whether you want to rent out a section of the venue or you just want to reserve some big tables, they can hook you up. The nostalgia level is unreal.
9. Try out a whole bunch of food trucks all at once.
Who doesn’t love a food truck? Everyone does, and it’s a really fun alternative to traditional catering. Food truck catering is one of the more popular creative corporate event ideas in Chicago, and that growing demand has given rise to organizations like the Chicago Food Truck Hub. Connect with the Chicago Food Truck Hub, and they can line up a selection of awesome trucks with pretty much any kind of fare you’re interested in.
10. Become a contestant in your very own game show.
The Game Show Game Show is exactly what it sounds like: an event for groups to participate in mock game shows. It’s an absolute blast. Imagine your crew entering a world of sequined vests, dazzling lights, and big-personality hosts as they play to win in games inspired by all of the TV classics. They can even work up custom game shows— just get in touch with them and brainstorm some ideas.
11. Spin your wheels at Whirlyball.
If you’ve never heard of Whirlyball, you’re missing out. It’s like bumper cars meets lacrosse with scoops and whiffle balls, and playing it is like being a kid again. At Chicago’s Whirlyball venue, there’s plenty of other things to do, too—they’ve got food, drinks, and other games.
12. Become a tourist in your own neighborhood.
There are a lot of great private tour companies in Chicago, such as Chicago Detours. Loads of options are available, from walking tours to bus and boat rides, and most will have food and drink options. If you can find a walking tour of your company’s neighborhood, it’s a really interesting way of looking at your work life from a new angle. A local tour guide will point things out that your colleagues have never noticed, from architectural details to little hidden pieces of history, providing your team with a new way of looking at the block they come to for work each day.
Don’t let it feel like work!
Even if attendance isn’t truly mandatory, employees still tend to feel obligated to attend company events, and let’s be real: sometimes there are other things they’d like to be doing. So it’s only fair that you put on events that really knock their socks off. Our list of creative corporate event ideas in Chicago is a great place to jumpstart your own creativity. Pick an item off the list, and think about how you can customize the experience for your company, turning it all into a truly one-of-a-kind experience.