End of Year and Holiday Celebration Tips and Ideas for Virtual Teams

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virtual holidays

As Thanksgiving approaches, the final weeks of a long and difficult year beckons. It’s only natural that people go in search of feel good moments before we close the door on 2020 and HR teams the world over are excited to provide those moments following a year of difficult decisions, emotional conversations and significant challenges.

Now obviously, you’re not going to be organizing a big shindig in an office common area or at an offsite public location this year. Social distancing and the new environment we live in requires that more than likely, you’re going to be moving this year’s festive season activities into a virtual environment. By now, you may be well versed in staging virtual happy hours and online yoga sessions, but the festive season is meant to be slightly different from typical activities.

With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of helpful holiday fun tips and ideas for you and your teams to enjoy the culmination of 2020 and the dawn of a New Year.

Tip: Don’t Skip the Booze

Just because the party is virtual doesn’t mean you can’t have fun the same way you would in the office. A key part of that is everyone letting their hair down, so to speak, with a couple of adult beverages. No holiday party is complete without a few laughs over a delicious cocktail, but be sure to remind folks that the rules on taking it too far don’t change just because there is no drive home.

Idea: Online Bartending Class

The COVID age has been rife with online learning opportunities for employees, so why not stay on brand with a bit of a fun twist? There are now services that will deliver cocktail kits to your employees and lead participants in an interactive cocktail making session. You can even do food pairings to host full blown virtual tastings. Organizers can create a menu for the event and take over for the bartender after a short lesson that gets everyone doing something together. When it’s all said and done, don’t forget to toast the team.

Tip: It’s All Fun and Games

In the past six months, a variety of online game options have popped up that are interactive and serve as a great icebreaker for people in need of a little social boost. Whether you want to make a fun competition out of it and award prizes or encourage team collaboration and covertly make it a team building exercise, all that matters is that those in attendance have a good time and focus on something other than work together.

Idea: Virtual Escape Rooms, Trivia, Charades and More

You can tap into some of the latest game trends or just go with the classics. There’s a number of services that are ready out of the box for online trivia that use technology everyone is guaranteed to have, such as a mobile phone and a Zoom account. There’s also virtual escape rooms, which challenge teams to work together to unlock puzzles to get out of a virtual room. It’s not a bad way to take a look at the problem solving ability of people on your team or identify those who lead naturally. Since it’s the holidays, you may want to keep it light with a game of charades, drawing challenges or karaoke, but whatever you choose, just make sure that it’s open to anyone and doesn’t get too competitive.

Tip: This is a Good Time to Award Employees

Rewards don’t necessarily mean money. The holidays are the perfect time to recognize people’s contributions. This doesn’t necessarily mean calling out top performers, but maybe it’s a good time to call out some intangibles. Maybe Janice in accounting gets a “helper bee” award for her work on celebrating everyone in the office’s birthdays, even when things when remote. Maybe Dave from product design gets the “Swiss Army medal of honor” due to the way he took on so many different role in that Q3 project. Whatever it is, it’s a nice moment to peddle some praise, acknowledge the work your people do and show your gratitude.

Idea: Make the Awards Real

What’s an award without something to show for it. Again, this doesn’t have to come in the form of money. It could be something as simple as a custom video conferencing filter, such as bee antennae for helper bee Janice. Or perhaps you mail an actual Swiss Army knife to Dave that he can show off on camera for everyone at virtual holiday gathering. Whatever it is, just the awards will ultimately hold more value and mean more to people if there is a little gift attached to it.

Tip: Don’t Abandon Traditions

Office traditions are much loved and give folks something to look forward to. If there’s usually a potluck, keep it going by finding ways to make it virtual. Maybe you combine it with a Secret Santa and everyone sends a co-worker a food gift they can pick up or receive in the mail. Maybe you take a popular dish from previous potlucks and have the creator lead a cooking class where they make it. Whatever it is, find ways to use your creativity to still bring people together this holiday season, just do it virtually.

Idea: Quarantine White Elephant

Given the current environment, Secret Santa or White Elephant gift swaps may be difficult, and getting the gifts to employees may present challenges as they don’t want their addresses shared. Instead, there may be a simpler way. For your virtual party, have each guest bring an off the wall gift that typically would be unwanted. Then have them take turns opening the gifts in a random order. Gifters hold up the presents showing the audience what it is, then the next player takes a turn either stealing the present or unwrapping a new one. The process is repeated until all presents are gone. At the end, gifters can send presents to the rightful owners or drop them off at a central location to be picked up in a socially distant manner.

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