It wasn’t always trendy. But the idea of a company holiday party in the off-season has been a CNH Architects’ tradition for more than 30 years.
And, like the design for a building, there had to be rules. The first was to never do the same Christmas party twice, said Principal Wayne Hilbert. Then came the ban on December dates.
“It’s just one more stressor for people, so any time other than December,” he said. “It didn’t matter when.”
There was a train ride in Wayzata, and the Minnesota Zephyr in Stillwater. CNH went to the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, twice. “John Natwick loved it. His argument was that they were different shows, so it was different” Hilbert explains.
The group went to a resort up north and Hinckley Casino. They sat on the floor and ate Japanese food in the winter. Schumacher’s in New Prague entertained the CNH crew, as did
staff at the St. James Hotel in Red Wing. Closer to home, they dined at Fogo de Chao Brazilian Steakhouse in Minneapolis.
Founder Glenn Cording would show up at these gatherings after he retired, said Hilbert.
On the St. Paul side, CNH dined at the eclectic Mufuletta restaurant before it closed in 2017. They also visited the Lowell Inn in downtown Stillwater, which was established in 1927. Staff and principals saw the Triple Espresso comedy group. The “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding” show was another show to take in.
Small firm flexibility allowed for a “whenever someone got around to planning it,” approach. Hilbert said a few of the ideas bombed, but most were a lot of fun and people wondered what was coming next.
The variation and newness made the atmosphere a little more loose. “There were no expectations as to how to act or perform. We were all in the same boat . . . all there for the first time, doing whatever.”