Independence Day parade
When America turned 200, parades were thrown and coins were minted. So what do you have planned?

Here it comes: the date you circled on your coffee-stained desk calendar seemingly forever ago. The company’s big anniversary. Employees will surely be expecting a celebration. And they deserve one. But what in the world does one do to ring such an milestone? We have some ideas.

Nod to Nostalgia

nostalgic photo of a business
Photo by Richard

There are few opportunities in business to take time to remember what has happened over the tenure of a company. Processing shared memories can build unity and strengthen teams. Remember the 1992 product launch that went awry. Talk about the late founder that made everyone feel like family. Laugh about the customer mishap that was anything but funny at the time. Bring out the pictures! For those who were present, this nod to nostalgia will act as a reminder of the history they’ve been a part of. One way to do this is through conversation starters on tables. For those who are new, it will serve as a statement of loyalty—that yours is a company that has partnered with good people for a long time.

Relish in Relics

antique cash register
Photo by Kecko

Bring out the old! Scour the office closets and storage room for relics from the years gone by. T-shirts from the first family picnic, hand-typed invoices for Customer 0001, and the outdated technology that felt oh so futuristic decades ago. Display your ancient treasures as centerpieces on buffet spreads, dining tables, or at entrances. They’ll have your most tenured employees flashing back to the days of yore.

Celebrate Change

As you remember what was, be sure to celebrate was is! Acknowledge the breakthroughs your team has helped usher in. The shifts in demand they’ve navigated, the cutbacks they’ve weathered, and the successes they’ve accomplished. One practical idea: cover a wall with paper and prompt employees with a question like, “My proudest moment at      was when…” or “My fondest      memory is…” Then keep the insights on file in the company break room and let the good times linger.

Exploit the Era

disco dance floor

One of the clearest ways to acknowledge how much time has passed is to dress the era! Theme your event around the year of your company’s founding. Plan your menu with foods from the era, and invite guests to dress in period attire. Celebrating your 40th anniversary? Have a fondue bar and bring out the bell-bottoms! The extra effort will make the journey sink in even more.

Mark with Mementos

Prince Charles & Princess Diana commemorative plate

Who doesn’t love some swag? Make the memories last with a take-home gift to mark the occasion. When Princess Diana married Prince Charles, commemorative plates were sold in droves. When America turned 200, commemorative coins were minted! The most effective party gifts blend usefulness with commemoration. A logo-emblazoned mouse pad? Probably not too useful. A fruit basket? Not relevant. Put on your thoughtful hat and send your guests home with a meaningful memory.

And a friendly reminder from event manager Eddy Willingham: don’t forget about the less obvious milestones! Anniversaries are just one of them. “Find and determine those milestones that are unique to your business and the celebrate each one. One milestone is to keep track of is the number of products sold, or customers serviced. There are lots of opportunities to celebrate.”