14 awesome startup holiday parties we wish we could attend

Tessa McLean
'Tis the season for partying with your coworkers. Holiday parties are not only great for morale, they’re also a nice opportunity for employees to reflect on the past year. These 14 Chicago companies shared with us how they like to celebrate, and even provided us with some amazing photos to show off. For those that hold their party in January, they shared a previous year’s festivities with us.


GoHealth celebrated the holidays with a formal affair at the Alder Planetarium. The party included dancing in the dome-shaped Grainger Sky Theater, a delicious dinner, a festive photo booth and interactive games. In the midst of the nation’s health insurance open enrollment period – GoHealth’s busiest season – the holiday party was a wonderful time to kick back and celebrate.



kCura’s holiday party was held at the River East Art Center, incorporating a casino theme complete with Blackjack, Roulette, and other fun games. There were also dress-up photo booths, delicious food, and dancing. It’s a great way for kCurians to grab a date and gather together as one big family to celebrate the year’s hard work. This year’s holiday party involves a 1920’s speakeasy theme and will be held at Morgan Manufacturing.



Hireology's Holiday Party was filled with endless entertainment. They catered yummy finger foods and served drinks at their very own Hireology Bar (made by their Director of Marketing's dad. Thanks Papa Borgerson!) The night started off with the typical mingling and introductions of the team's friends and family and then BOOM! "Mike McSherry and the Smoking Beakers" broke out in a mashup of Last Christmas and Taylor Swift's "Blank Space." 



GiveForward hosted their annual Ugly Sweater Pub Crawl, their biggest event where they invite the whole community. Each year between 200 and 400 people show up, don their ugliest sweaters and party on a crazy pub crawl through Wrigleyville. The proceeds always go towards good causes. The past two years the proceeds have gone to the Christmas Store, a 5-year-old program that enables parents in low income communities on the southside to shop for their children's holiday gifts at a discount. 



Members of the Chicago cleverbridge family gathered to commemorate another fantastic year at their new office to exchange Secret Santa gifts. After the gift giving was done, they headed to American Junkie in River North. At the bar, they feasted on an array of appetizers and entrees. Then, employees dazzled each other by performing karaoke songs late into the night.



For the holidays Urbanbound really wanted to show how grateful they are for all of their clients in a personal and unique way. "Since the purpose of our company is that we provide a tech solution for an industry that doesn't have one, we wanted to steer away from the traditional greeting cards, and instead decided to make a video where everyone in the company could be involved. We chose "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" as our song and modified the words to fit our industry. Since our HR Tech solution is for the employee relocation industry, Rudolph now became the most famous transferee of all- Rudolph the Relo Reindeer."
"By choosing to make a video we were able to showcase our company's culture, and put a smile on our customer's faces. The feedback was great- our clients enjoyed the creative and humorous greeting! The  response rate was infinitely higher than any type of holiday effort we had done in the past."



ContextMedia's party serves as a way for them to celebrate hitting year end goals together as a team, while showing off the most horrible sweaters they can find. They receive nearly 100% participation on behalf of the company, and typically will have a charity drive during the party (in 2013 they donated to Toys for Tots). Each year they compete for the prestigious "Ugliest Sweater Award," with the winner's name immortalized on their wall of fame, alongside former champions.



Greg Buttera played bartender and mixed it up at Signal's holiday party this year with a special holiday cocktail menu offering the Lion's Tail, Signal Punch, Moscow Mules and more. The party was held at their new offices at 111 N Canal.



Each December the Fieldglass halls are decked from floor to ceiling with wrapping paper and bows, lights and hanging ornaments. This sets the mood for the annual holiday party filled with drinks, food and laughs shared by coworkers. If this isn’t enough for Scrooge to embrace the holiday spirit, December is also when they donate toys to the Toys for Tots charity to ensure everyone has a gift under the tree. These holiday festivities are important to every member of Fieldglass because it’s a chance to relax and celebrate all of the achievements made in the past year (it’s also a chance to break out the tacky sweaters).



This year, Jellyvision celebrated with lots of holiday cheer. They began with a holiday bash at Chop Shop & 1st Ward, featuring a performance by a band made up of 27 Jellyvisioners. The band, Ryan and the DiGiorgis, formed in September and has been practicing for the big event since. They rocked out on 12 classic jams, including “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Highway to Hell,” with ukuleles, kazoos, guitars, drums, cowbells, and shakers. They must have been good, because people eating at Chop Shop crashed the party to hear the band.



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Every year, the Punchkick team hosts the Punchkick Family Thanksgiving party at the office for the entire team and their significant others. The tradition began a few years ago when a Punchkicker hosted the team at her apartment for a Thanksgiving meal—they were only 15 employees at that point. Four years later and four times larger, the event moved venues and emerged as one of the best events of the year. The Punchkick Family Thanksgiving event consists of delicious food, non-stop karaoke, a dessert contest, guest DJs, and a costume-filled photo booth. 


Brad's Deals

Brad's Deals recently moved into a new office space at 640 N. LaSalle, and like any company would, they're using that space to party! They hosted an ugly sweater party to celebrate the season.



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Thrown for staff and significant others to celebrate all the hard work accomplished in the past year, this year's party was held at the Stan Mansion in Logan Square and featured fire dancing performances by Pyrotechniq, music by Morry Sochat and the Special 20’s, as well as a staff favorite—a photo booth to document the evening. Past parties have been hosted at Nellcote, Chicago Illuminating Co. and the Chicago Cultural Center.



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The Legacy.com holiday party was held at the “Madhouse on Madison”, where 80 people gathered in a super suite to watch the Chicago Blackhawks. While watching the five-time Stanley Cup Champions, the super suite was set with all the fixings – gourmet food, cocktails, and the beloved dessert cart.


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