Be it bad food, bad company or bad choices, most of us have Christmas party memories – or lack thereof – that we’d rather were secret. But it doesn’t have to be awkward small talk, lukewarm beers and cringe-worthy run-ins the next day at the office. Do away with tradition this year, and break the Christmas shindig out of its box.

Dave’s Brewery Tours
Think a brewery tour is only for beer lovers? Not necessarily. “Beer is a lot more diverse than people think,” says Dave Phillips, owner and namesake of the company. “In all the time I’ve been doing this, I’ve only ever had one guest who couldn’t find a beer they liked.” Dave’s Brewery Tours gives you plenty of opportunity to test the wares, and you’re transported from brewery to brewery by private bus, so no one need worry about designated-driver duties. The only experience of its kind in Sydney, the tour introduces people to the craft-beer communities of different regions, such as the inner west, the northern beaches and the city fringe. They get to experience local produce and educate themselves on the art of brewing. Group tours are available seven days a week, and private charters are available on request.

An Éclair Workshop at La Maison de L’eclair
You needn’t go to Paris to find the perfect éclair. In fact, you don’t even have to go all the way to Bondi anymore. Renowned French patisserie La Maison de L’éclair has recently launched an Éclair Bar. It’s a customisable éclair-making workshop that comes to you. Learn how to whip up beautiful creations under the guidance of expert Laurence Caillon. Perfect for any type of celebration, the Éclair Bar can be set up at your venue of choice, so it’s a great option as either a stand-alone event, or as an additional activity at a larger function. One tip: eclairs always taste better with champagne.

Bowls, Beer and Festive Cheer at The Greens
The harbour views at The Greens North Sydney will have even the biggest Christmas-party cynic casting their ba-humbugs aside. Throw in tasty burgers such as the grain-fed beef with beetroot relish, mustard mayo, rocket and char-grilled zucchini, a supply of cold beer and a few games of barefoot bowls, and you’re on to a winner. The Greens offers a range of catering packages, with everything from seasonal fruit platters through to more substantial pub-grub options to suit large and small groups. But be quick – this is the first Christmas season for the popular north-Sydney boozer, and its calendar is filling up.

Up-Skill at Work-Shop
Not everyone gets to be creative at work, so it’s fun to unleash that side every now and again. Work-Shop allows you to do just that, with zany activities including ukulele lessons, nail art, bacon making and everything in between at its unique headquarters in Redfern. “We cater for all types of groups, from corporates to hen’s parties,” says Work-Shop co-founder, Matt Branagan. “We have a pretty diverse roster of activities to choose from, but we’re always open to suggestions – the weirder, the better!” What’s more, the space can accommodate up to 60 people seated and 150 standing, so you can set up for dinner and cocktails post activity and keep the party going well into the night.

K-Pop Kareoke at Goros
If you’re looking for a late-night Christmas-party venue where you can really let loose, then Goros could be the place. On Mary Street, safe from the restrictions of the lockout zone, the madcap izakaya bar is equipped with karaoke booths available for private bookings. It also serves Japanese-themed food platters to keep you going. Off-the-wall interiors and hilarious Japanese gameshows on loop throughout the bar will entertain, but the real rockstar here is the venue’s saké selection. Break away from the traditional bubbles and opt for a few glasses of its sparkling Dewazakura.

Axe Wielding at Maniax
Most of us are familiar with the frazzled nerves that come with the end of the year. And what better way to resolve that tension than to chuck an axe at a wall? Maniax by Steve Thomas and Adam Schilling creates “organised axe-throwing experiences” for private groups. “I got into it when I was living in Canada, and Adam suggested it would go down really well over here,” says Thomas. “It’s a really fun team sport, and a good way to release pent-up energy. It’s more about technique than strength, which means anyone can give it a go.” Axe-throwing is hungry work, so the company teams up with local suppliers to cater your party in-venue. Looking for a new hobby for 2016? The venture has proved so popular that Maniax launched its own axe-throwing league earlier this year. Problem solved.