Have you ever been on a trip with friends or family members, and at the end of it felt like the shared memories from just that short amount of time together have permanently strengthened your bond? Corporate events can be like that too, if you bring a little creativity and fun to the table. That kind of team-building through shared unique experience is tragically underrated—who wouldn’t want a staff that shares that level of camaraderie? Our list of 12 creative corporate event ideas in New York City includes both one-size-fits-all general tips that can elevate any event, as well as specific activities particular to NYC, so there’s something here for everyone.
1. Book a stay in a secret hotel.
If you’ve got the budget to do an overnight activity, consider a surprise trip to a secret hotel. Secret hotels are gaining in popularity, though you wouldn’t know it unless you’re in the know. Secret hotels are similar to traditional upscale boutique hotels but provide little in the way of context, details, visuals, or even their location ahead of the guests’ arrival. We’ve got a lead on a great one: The Dutchess. We’ll just say that it’s somewhere in upstate New York.
2. Book an unforgettable Peerspace.
There are a ton of incredible venue rentals available through Peerspace, from this sanctuary-turned-Instagram-goldmine or this rooftop garden with a view of the Empire State Building. You can book directly through the site, or you can call Peerspace’s Concierge service and get all the perks of an event planning staff without the pricetag. They can help you set up catering, book entertainment, rent furniture—you name it. After all, what better way to get together than to mingle in a completely unique venue that’s so different than your everyday office setting?
3. Hold a storytelling event.
Open mic storytelling events are increasingly popular, and New York is home to the one that pretty much started it all—The Moth. Come up with a fun, quirky theme, book a venue, and have a storytelling night (with a few drinks to loosen everyone up, maybe?) It’s a great way to learn more about each other.
4. Get retro at a Barcade.
NYC has multiple Barcade locations, which serve up classic arcade games alongside craft beers. The options for creating a little intra-company competition are endless, or just let people hang out and revel in nostalgia.
5. Bring on the food trucks with the New York Food Truck Association.
Nobody gets tired of food trucks, and depending on the venue it can be pretty convenient to just have trucks pull up—no clean-up! The New York Food Truck Association facilitates these events all the time.
6. Become a sumo wrestler at Chelsea Piers.
Chelsea Piers has a ton of lively options for a corporate event, but our favorite is throwing on some giant sumo wrestling costumes and battling it out, a la The Office.
7. Live inside a theatrical thriller experience.
The McKitrick Hotel is not a traditional hotel—it’s a venue. And while you can go to the bar there for cocktails and tableside sleight-of-hand magic, you’d be better off taking your crew to Sleep No More. It’s an interactive, surreal version of Macbeth that uses the hotel as its setting. If your team can get into something weird and different, they’ll love this. It’s one of the most unique corporate event ideas in all of New York City.
8. Swoon over a signature craft cocktail.
If your associates like a good drink, consider booking a high-end mixologist as opposed to using a caterer’s go-to bartenders. Have them make a signature cocktail recipe with a name that’s tailored to your company. Employees will get a kick out of it, and it will give them something to make again in the future.
9. Drink for a cause!
Whatever your bar situation, consider contributing bar proceeds to a charitable cause. Have the company match whatever employees spend. Everyone will be motivated to live it up! Of course, always have options for non-drinkers, and keep safety the top priority.
10. Book a futuristic donut-making robot.
There’s no rule that says you can’t primarily have dessert stations at your event. Think frozen yogurt stands or hot pretzel stations where attendees pick their flavors and toppings. Think cupcakes. Think donuts. Every can agree on donuts. Just as one example, Glazed & Confused will bring a donut-dipping robot to your event, so everyone can watch their donuts get fried, glazed, and topped to order.
11. Get mindful and meditative.
If the tone you’re going for is more subdued and contemplative, bring some mindfulness practice to the group. Corporate meditation was all the rage in the 90s, and it’s seeing a stunning resurgence—and with good reason. Something like guided meditations or a group yoga session can really renew and invigorate your team, and that’s why studios like INSCAPE host corporate events with an emphasis on mindfulness and healthy living. Activities of these types are among some of the most popular corporate event ideas in New York City these days.
12. Create a carnival.
Relieve the glory days of childhood by recreating your favorite traveling carnival memories. Numerous businesses offer carnival ride, game, and stall rentals (like this one), and there’s no employee in the world who wouldn’t like to take a shot at their boss in the dunk tank.
13. Solve some puzzles and escape the room.
Whether you’re exploring the workshop of Harry Houdini, or embarking on piratical adventures aboard the Hades’ Plunder, Clue Chase’s four escape rooms in midtown Manhattan are a fun and unique way to spend an hour together. They’ve got a dedicated team of event coordinators who will be happy to assist you in booking and planning your outing. They also offer virtual escape rooms, for those folks not yet meeting in person.
Whatever you do, don’t let it feel like work.
There’s nothing worse than a corporate event that feels like being at work, and we’ve all been to them. Instead of promoting fun and bringing the group together, you’ve just spoiled everyone’s off time—and that’s not cool. If you’re going to do it, get creative. No matter the budget, there are corporate event ideas in New York City that are unique and offbeat, the sort of thing they’ll be talking about for years to come.
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