Holiday parties are a tradition at many businesses. A 2019 survey from the outplacement services firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas found that 76 percent of companies planned to hold holiday parties in 2019.
As popular as holiday office parties may be, few businesses are likely to gather in person this holiday season as the world continues to confront the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing guidelines may put many holiday office parties on indefinite hold, but there are still ways for employees to gather this holiday season.
Virtual meeting apps like Zoom have helped many businesses stay connected during the pandemic, and there’s no reason why the same platform cannot be utilized when hosting virtual office parties this holiday season. While it might not be the same as planning in person holiday office parties, planning a virtual office get-together can still capture the spirit of the holiday season.
Encourage festive backgrounds. Backgrounds have taken on special meaning as people limit their interactions to video calls. Virtual holiday party organizers can encourage employees to decorate their backgrounds in traditional holiday colors to give the virtual party an authentic holiday feel.
Send special care packages to employees. Various companies have helped make virtual happy hours more unique by offering virtual happy hour kits, and such kits can be created and shipped to employees with a holiday theme in mind. Such kits may include snacks, the ingredients necessary to whip up special beverages like eggnog and even some party favors. Company presidents can then propose a toast during the party and express their appreciation to all the hard work employees have put in during what’s proven to be a very challenging year.
Take the day off. Holiday office parties often take place after office hours. Since that might not be doable when everyone is working from home, host the virtual holiday party on a company-wide off day. Schedule the party for midday and then encourage everyone to hang around on the video call and chat for as long as they’d like. Such calls can be a great time for everyone to catch up and unwind without having to worry about going back to work once the call ends.
Cater the party. Dinner is often served at traditional holiday office parties, and while it may require some logistical maneuvering, employers can still provide employees with meals. If employees all live in the same general vicinity, arrange for individually prepared meals to be delivered to their homes. If employees are more spread out, employers can offer to reimburse them for meals they eat during the virtual get-together.
Office holiday parties will likely go virtual this year. While that might not be how employees prefer to get together and celebrate, there are many ways to make such gatherings memorable and festive.