The guests skied during the day, gathered at 4 p.m., and snow-shoed up to the Snowflake Lodge at Diamond Peak Ski Resort near Incline Village.
A chef cooked outside on a grill and served the 25 guests buffet-style in the candle-lit lodge before they hiked back down the hill by the lights of headlamps.
“We were off the hill by 9 p.m., and every guest raved about the experience,” recalls Eric Kertzman, sales manager at Diamond Peak.
Unusual venues and inventive thinking about activities combine to create memorable holiday parties for companies large and small.
Roller Kingdom, for instance, often has been the choice for companies that want active, family-oriented holiday parties, says Brad Armstrong, owner of the roller rink in downtown Reno.
With a capacity of 1,000 skaters, the rink has hosted some large groups, Armstrong says. One major casino-hotel, for instance, rented the rink for more than eight hours to provide an opportunity for holiday fun for shift workers and their families.
Some employers pick up the tab for some items at the Roller Kingdom snack bar — free popcorn for all! — while others have arranged catering for holiday parties.
“We don’t do alcohol, but not everyone wants alcohol at a holiday party,” says Armstrong. “We’re more family-oriented.”
He says available dates begin filling up in early autumn as Roller Kingdom also hosts a variety of events such as fundraisers for area schools in addition to corporate holiday parties.
Wild Island also is booking holiday parties early in the autumn for organizations that want an activity-filled event.
“These aren’t the sit-and-socialize type of people,” says Kelly Smiley, director of admissions and groups at the family adventure park in Sparks.
Many holiday groups at Wild Island focus their activities around the private bowling lanes at Coconut Bowl. Others take advantage of miniature golf — sometimes even venturing to the outdoors facility in addition to the indoors course. Indy Go-Karts also run through the winter month for drivers who have bundled up.
While most of the holiday parties scheduled at Wild Island are planned by companies that want employees to bring their families, that’s not always the case.
Smiley says some companies plan adults-only parties at which grownups can play in attractions such as laser mazes.
Party food choices, Smiley says, range from hot dogs and pizza to fancy catered dinners.
The Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum, which proven to be a popular location for corporate team-building events and parties during its three-year life, also hosts holiday parties.
Patrick Turner, marketing and PR manager for the hands-on science museum in downtown Reno, says some companies have rented the entire facility after its normal operating hours for a family-friendly event.
Staff members are on hand to help children — and adults for that matter — with art projects, science discovery and the joy of making something.
Other companies have used the Discovery Museum’s facilities as a setting for a more traditional sit-down dinner.
The Nevada Museum of Art, meanwhile, helps party planners create events with themes tied to its exhibits.
An exhibit of taxidermy this year, for instance, lends itself to corporate events with a big-game theme, says Nisha Hallert, director of special events and sales.
Hallert says the variety of spaces available in the museum also inspire party planners. Traditional cocktail events find a home in the museum’s atrium. Smaller gatherings are hosted in the Founders Room with its spectacular views of the Sierra.
And even during the winter months, parties gather on the museum rooftop for hot chocolate and coffee.
“We fill up quite quickly, so flexibility with dates can be important,” Hallert says.
The National Automobile Museum provides another non-traditional venue, and its staff is experienced with hosting events ranging from luncheons for 50 or holiday parties for 1,200.
Kayden West, the museum’s marketing and public relations manager, says catering is available exclusively through Silver Peak Restaurant, and the museum provides gallery hosts and docent-guided tours of its more than 200 vehicles as options.