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Reimagining the Company Holiday Party During COVID-19

Monday November 23rd, 2020

Estimated time to read: 2 minutes

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Historically, company holiday parties have been a great opportunity for employee engagement and boosting morale. But, for many organizations, in-person cocktail receptions, dinners, activities and other outings won’t be possible in 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

As the end of the year approaches, we would like to provide some alternative ideas for how to celebrate the staff’s hard work while keeping everyone safe.

Whatever you do, don’t abandon the idea of a year-end celebration

Although the in-person party your organization has hosted for years may not be possible, it won’t be good for morale to simply call the whole thing off. 

This year in particular, it’s critical to recognize the resilience and dedication of essential workers, staff members who transitioned to remote work, individuals who were temporarily furloughed and company leaders who faced the challenge of navigating an unprecedented public health crisis. 

Despite the unusual circumstances, take the opportunity to express gratitude for the entire workforce and give everyone something to look forward to.

Add festive elements to video meetings

For workers struggling with Zoom fatigue, hopping on one more video meeting or run-of-the-mill virtual happy hour won’t feel particularly special. Instead, ensure that your virtual company holiday party is a success by adding engaging activities. The following ideas are beyond the norm and can get event attendees in the holiday mood.

Coordinate a virtual gift exchange

According to isolved's holiday survey, 62 percent of full-time employees are already not planning to buy gifts for coworkers this holiday season. However, a company-led virtual gift exchange can be a fun way to bring out the spirit of giving and restore a bit of lost camaraderie. To keep it simple, have members of smaller teams or individual departments each draw one name. Set a price cap to keep the exchange budget-friendly. Ask each gifter to mail their item off to their recipient. Finally, invite the whole group to connect and unwrap their surprises during a video chat.

Host a gingerbread house decorating competition 

Sending out gingerbread house decorating kits can be a sweet surprise and a wintery creative challenge. Encourage participants to enlist the help of family members and housemates. Make it a competition so your team members really use their imaginations when assembling their fanciful confectionary creations. Have everyone share the results and vote to see whose gingerbread house steals the show.

Support local restaurants with gift cards or gift baskets

During the holiday season, booked-up dining halls and cocktail receptions usually bring a lot of business to restaurants. This year, consider supporting your favorite local spot by giving each employee a culinary experience they can enjoy from home. You could either send out a holiday card with a gift card so workers can treat themselves to a take-out meal, or have gift baskets filled with local delicacies shipped out to the whole team. 

While none of these experiences will feel the same as the company holiday party of years past, they can certainly still feature the same festive flavor and give hard-working staff members a taste of the company’s appreciation.

Communicating with a remote workforce is just one of many challenges that businesses are facing as a result of COVID-19. Learn how to adapt and prepare for the future by downloading our whitepaper, What Businesses Learned about Rapid Change and Business Continuity from the Pandemic.