Just like everything else that’s been affected by the pandemic this year, holiday parties won’t be the same either. With the second wave of COVID-19, countries across the world are going back into lockdown and putting social restrictions in place again. However, this doesn’t mean your annual workplace holiday party has to be cancelled entirely. With a bit of creativity, you can still celebrate and organize something virtually fun and engaging for your team!
So, if you’re in charge of planning a holiday party for your colleagues this year, we’ve come up with a few ideas on how you can celebrate virtually – just keep reading!
First off, here are a few things to consider in order to make the most out of the virtual party experience:
Dress Code & Theme
Normally, we’d dress up for our in-person parties, so why not get your colleagues to dress up for your virtual party as well? It may seem silly to get dressed up for a virtual party, but it’s a great way to get everyone excited and engaged. And let’s all face it, we’ve seen our colleagues in pyjamas and “home clothes” way too much this year. So get creative and choose a theme for your colleagues to follow – you can choose anything from Ugly Christmas Sweaters to Winter Wonderland, or even something like Casino Royale (if your team is feeling extra fancy!). Whatever theme you choose, make sure it’s appropriate for the workplace as well!
Prior to the event, encourage your colleagues to decorate their surroundings according to the theme. Doing this is super important because you want to change up the atmosphere of the virtual party. This ensures that the event doesn’t feel like just another online team meeting. For colleagues that don’t have time to gather supplies and decorate, encourage them to use a virtual background on their Zoom!
Now that we have the basics out of the way, here are 10 different ideas to celebrate the holidays virtually with your team this year:
1. Holiday-themed Game Night
Arrange a fun holiday–themed game night for you and your colleagues! Some classic game ideas include holiday–themed Charades, Bingo, Trivia, or even Mafia. If you don’t want to go with the holiday theme, you can also host a game night playing trending and easy to set up games such as Among Us (this one is super popular right now). For a full list of team building game ideas, check out these online office games you can facilitate.
2. Virtual Escape Room
Not feeling the classic games and want to do something more unique? You can invest in a virtual escape room experience for your team to participate in. Over the course of this year, companies such as PuzzleBreak have developed remote “virtual escape experiences”, where team members must work together to solve puzzles, find clues, and solve mysteries within a certain time window! These virtual escape room experiences are fully facilitated as well, so all you need to do is sit back and enjoy it!
3. Holiday Recipe Exchange
For all the foodies out there, hosting a recipe exchange where colleagues exchange holiday recipes from their cultures is a great way for everyone to feel more connected to one another and learn about each other! Leading up to this event, ask all your colleagues to prepare a special holiday recipe to exchange with another coworker. On the day of the event, team members must recreate the dish following the recipe they received and share their final product on Zoom!
4. Holiday Dinner with a Twist
This one’s a classic. You can never go wrong with planning a holiday dinner for the team, and yes – you can do this virtually too! Depending on your budget, send each of your colleagues a gift card to a meal delivery service such as Skip the Dishes, or Uber Eats, and enjoy dinner together over Zoom. Who doesn’t love food?
To add a twist to the dinner, consider hosting a dress–up contest. Everyone must come to the dinner dressed up according to a theme and partake in an anonymous vote where the best-dressed team members will receive e-prizes! Extra points can be given to those who go the extra mile and coordinate with their backgrounds too. Get your Ugly Sweaters on!
5. Happy Hour or Wine Tasting
An easy way to elevate any party (virtually or in–person) is through making delicious drinks! Host a virtual happy hour with your colleagues and pick a Christmas cocktail to make and enjoy together on Zoom!
If you’re feeling even fancier, consider arranging a virtual wine tasting tour for the team! Over the course of the past year, an increasing number of wineries have begun offering wine tastings online. Establishments like Two Sisters Vineyard have created Virtual Tasting Tours, where they will ship out wine packages to individual recipients for you and provide an in–depth and interactive virtual tasting experience for your team!
6. Virtual Karaoke – Christmas Themed
Are you a serial shower singer? Do you secretly have a talent for singing that your colleagues don’t know about? Or do you just love to sing in general? At Envol, something almost all our team members have in common is our love for KARAOKE! If that is the same case for your team, then this totally calls for a virtual karaoke party! Not only is karaoke fun, but belting out to your favourite songs can also be a great stress–relieving activity for the team. For an in-depth step by step guide on how you can set up karaoke on Zoom, refer to this guide created by Toms Guide.
7. Gingerbread Building Contest
Gingerbread house building is a classic holiday activity. Additionally, this is something you can easily set up remotely! Before the day of the event, send out a gingerbread assembling kit to each of your colleagues. During the event, assemble them together on Zoom within a limited time period, and then conduct an anonymous vote for the best gingerbread houses – the winner gets a prize!
8. Relaxing Paint Night
Are you wanting to take it easy and host something more relaxing for the team after the crazy year we just had? We feel you. If that’s the case, a painting party would be the perfect activity to host! Prior to the event, give your team members a budget to work with. Send instructions and a list of supplies they will need for the event. To make it more engaging, we suggest choosing some sort of theme for the paint night. This can be getting the team to follow a super detailed (but relaxing) Bob Ross painting tutorial, or choosing a holiday theme as inspiration and then letting your colleague’s freestyle. Whatever theme you choose, paint night is a wonderful activity that can spark creativity. It’s even proven to be a source of a stress reliever for some.
9. Virtual Secret Santa
No holiday party is complete without some sort of gift exchange and fortunately, Secret Santa is still possible to organize virtually! To organize a successful virtual Secret Santa exchange, set a monetary budget for everyone to spend on the gift, then use a site like Elfster to help you draw names. Once all your colleagues have a Secret Santa, ask everyone to send out their gifts on time so their recipients will receive it beforehand (Amazon boxes works too right?), and then take turn unboxing the gifts together on Zoom!
10. Holiday Gift Boxes
At Envol, we believe that it’s important to make time for celebrations and connect with our colleagues. However, we understand that some companies may choose to entirely skip out on their holiday celebrations this year due to the pandemic. If that is the case for your company, a great way to show your employees appreciation is by sending everyone a holiday gift box. Depending on your budget, holiday gift boxes can be highly customized to your team. They can include personalized thank you messages, fun holiday–themed snacks, candles, socks, stress–relieving colouring books, or even bath bombs! If you and your colleagues have time, you can unbox the gift boxes virtually together as well! This simple gesture will put a smile on your employees’ faces.
And that concludes our virtual holiday party ideas! We hope these ideas served as inspiration and sparked creativity and excitement to kick off your holiday party planning this year. Follow us on LinkedIn and let us know what you end up planning for your colleagues. We hope you stay safe and have a happy holiday!
For tools and resources surrounding COVID-19, please follow this link.