Jumping is fun. Jumping and dying from ridiculous places is even more fun. And jumping and dying while trying to land on a specific target is priceless. In EverQuest II, our guild built a platform well above our guild hall and made an "X marks the spot" target in the courtyard below. Soon, it was raining players in our guild hall, and there was a pile of corpses scattered around the X. Sometimes, a guild needs a little break from complex boss fights and intense, organized PvP, and lawn darts is a simple yet memorable diversion.
Everyone brings a gift and randomly receives a number. The first person announces his gift, and the next person has a choice of taking it or choosing someone else to receive a gift. (Of course, picking someone else means you don't know what you're getting!) As each player has his turn, he can pick a gift that's already been revealed or choose a gift from someone who hasn't announced it yet. As the swap progresses, things can get pretty competitive!
Many MMOs now have a wide variety of outfits and even an appearance window that lets players customize their own look without sacrificing the stats on their armor. So it makes perfect sense to have a costume contest in order to let players show off their looks. And with the holiday season, you could choose to have a seasonal theme. Players who choose not to participate but still want to be involved can be the judges for the contest.
This works the same way in a game as it does out of game. Players opt to participate and have to come up with a few modest gifts to give to their randomly selected guildmate, one per week. Members then can have a third party deliver the gifts, and the gift givers are revealed on the last day of the event. It's a fun way of bringing members closer together and soften the boundaries on any cliques in the guild -- at least temporarily.
Ghost of Christmas Past
Everyone has old content she somehow missed but still hopes to see. The holidays are a nice chance to rally players together to revisit old dungeon and raid content. You could also use this as an opportunity to knock out old achievements that have been haunting players for a while. It's a nice way to bring the guild together and also satisfy our inner completionist.
If your guild is in need of resources, use it as the foundation for a contest. It puts a fun face on what could be a tedious chore, it helps strengthen the guild, and players enjoy some nice prizes for their efforts.
Level 1 whatever
Some of the most common and most popular events involve a newly created level 1 character. One is the level 1 newbie death run, where everyone creates a new character and flees through the world to the finish line. The other is hide and seek, where players have to find a level 1 character who's stashed away hidden. My personal favorite, though, is newbie soccer, which we did in EverQuest using a newbie Gnome corpse and the /corpse dragging command. Goal!!
If the quiet raid and PvP calendar makes your guild get a little twitchy, you can always hold a PvP tournament. Not only does it give players a chance to mix it up a bit, but members can have a little fun by placing side bets on who they think will win. One thing to consider, though, is having some sort of time limit on matches. Watching two healers duel is about as fun as watching paint dry.
Trivia and Screenshot contests
Two fun events that don't really involve playing in game are trivia contests (held in voice chat) and screenshot contests (on the guild forum). We've survived many long farm nights with "Name that '80s tune" contests, and it helps make what would normally be a boring evening into one that's fun and memorable. Screenshot contests are a nice event because they level the playing field and give everyone an equal chance to win.
Server gift giving
If your guild has had a good year and your guild bank is stuffed to capacity, why not have a night where members fan out and give some of it away to players on the server? You could hold some server events and use items as prizes, or you could just surprise someone with a nice gift. Not only does it lift the spirits of those on the server, but it's a great way to build some nice PR and recruiting power.
Charity outside of game
Some guilds don't stop with charity in-game; they actually organize guild-wide charity events out of game. Some have held collections and donated to a specific charity, while others have organized game marathons to raise money for organizations like Extra Life. It's a wonderful gesture, and it also helps show that guilds are about more than epic loot.
Guild events are a nice little break from the seriousness of the game that bring players together. During the holidays when things tend to slow down a bit, events also help keep morale high. But there are a few things to consider when running any guild event. First, it has to be something that's optional. Not everyone wants to participate, and that's OK. Second, keep the rules and objectives clear and easy to understand. The more complicated your event is, the less fun it will be. And if an event is hard to understand, confusion reigns, and the event will quickly fall apart. Also, make sure that if you are giving out valuable prizes, the rules are ironclad. If you're giving a valuable mount as a prize for a newbie footrace and some people cheat by using speed buffs or teleports, you're going to have a lot of unhappy players. The more valuable the prize, the more you should ensure that players can't circumvent the rules.
Lastly -- and this tends to get overlooked! -- make sure your event has a fixed time limit. Running around an enemy city as a level 1 Gnome is funny, but after a half hour or so, it begins to get pretty stale. Pacing is key, and there needs to be some feeling of closure so that people aren't standing around with a glazed look hours into the event. These guild events are about having fun, and that should be your primary goal when planning and running them.
Do you have a guild problem that you just can't seem to resolve? Have a guild issue that you'd like to discuss? Every week, Karen Bryan takes on reader questions about guild management right here in The Guild Counsel column. She'll offer advice, give practical tips, and even provide a shoulder to lean on for those who are taking up the challenging task of running a guild.