The office holiday party might look a little different this year, but there are still plenty of ways to celebrate safely and successfully! From gingerbread house decorating challenges to food delivery, Forbes and Senior Contributor Heidi Lynne Kurter help break down how you can go about creating an engaging holiday party experience that not only relieves stress, but also strengthens team bonding without adding to the Zoom burnout.
Make It Interactive
Holiday parties are fun events where everyone dresses up and celebrates. Being virtual shouldn’t change this. Whether it’s hosting an ugly sweater party or coordinating festive outfits, everyone should be encouraged to dress for the occasion, even if it is a virtual event.
Companies can send their employees a party-themed gift basket or physical gift that can be included in the virtual holiday party. For example, a fun mug to toast with or fun party hat or prop to have fun with on camera are some ways to make a Zoom party fun and interactive.
It’s important to have a plan instead of relying on employees to carry the conversation. This can be done by having breakout rooms, starting the night off with icebreaker questions, presenting fun awards such as the MacGyver Award or the Rookie of the Year Award or hosting an event such as a murder mystery party.
Edwin Rubio, vice president of sales at Vapor Empire, a Los Angeles based E-Cigarette retailer, recently hosted a virtual murder mystery dinner party with his department. The event turned out to be a great success that the company has decided to hold a company-wide murder mystery party where they’ll also gift each employee a stipend for alcohol.
Include The Whole Family
Working from home makes it almost impossible to not have the family included. Having a virtual contest such as a gingerbread house decorating challenge is a great way to get employees’ families involved in the fun.
Another option is to have a movie night where the company rents a movie for everyone to watch. If the company is larger, HR can create breakout rooms for different movie options. This is a great way to relax without the pressure of another Zoom-like meeting.
Dmytro Okunyev, founder of Chanty, is doing things differently this year. This year, he’s sending all of his employees $100 each to spend on drinks or dinner with their family. In return, he asks that his employees send in a few photos or videos of how they spent that money with their friends and family. Chanty will then create a collage of pictures and videos to present after New Years.
Turn Catered Into Delivered
There are a variety of food delivery services that employers can take part in that will allow employees to enjoy a nice meal from the comfort of their own home. Some delivery services that cater to remote workers are DoorDash, Uber Eats, Grubhub and Postmates. The benefit is, employers won’t need to worry about creating a menu that caters to each employee’s preferences or allergies. By giving employees an individual budget, they can order their own meal and get it delivered right to their doorstep.
Host Friendly Competitions And Team Building Events
The key to hosting engaging team building events is communicating with employees and creating an event based around everyone’s interests. The last thing employers want to do is turn what’s supposed to be a fun holiday party into what feels like an online lecture. Zoom fatigue is alive and well, therefore, it’s important to be diligent about planning a holiday event that makes sense for your workplace.
If your employees are more family-oriented, you might want to think about including their families in on the fun. If your employees have been working overtime, maybe gifting them a dinner gift card and giving them time with their families or friends is the best option. I advise staying away from sending alcohol or at-home cocktail kits unless you know everyone definitely drinks and is open to the idea. If this is the case, employers can send out a mix of mocktail kits for those who don’t drink and cocktail kits for those who do. Alternatively, there are plenty of at-home virtual experiences that can easily bring as much fun. Some examples are virtual culinary classes, cookie decorating sessions and hot chocolate or cider kits.
Competitions can be setup between departments or through a random generator that selects teams. Some examples of games that can be played are, Pictionary, Charades, draw the picture or hosting a scavenger hunt. Winners can receive gift cards, meditation training, virtual coaching sessions, unique company swag or employers can set a gift budget and let employees handpick their gift from a gifting platform such as Snappy.
Keeping Virtual Parties Safe and Clean
While the festivities surrounding the Holidays can be exciting and joyful for many, it’s also a time when some employees may feel excluded or uncomfortable. To create an inclusive atmosphere for all, consider staying away from overtly religious overtones, and communicate to employees that attendance is optional.
Holiday parties are also a time when people tend to let their guard down and create potential liability issues for employers, a situation only exacerbated by the personal nature of virtual celebrations from our homes. Whether gathering in person or remotely, bad behavior and misunderstandings can happen. It is important to remind employees ahead of time that virtual parties are an extension of the office, and the same, appropriate levels of conduct and respect apply.
Most importantly, remind employees that they have a voice, and you want them to report any bad behavior from a co-worker, manager, independent contractor, or even a customer. Work Shield is here and ready to listen, investigate and help resolve any misconduct that happens virtually or in person.
About Jennifer PopeJennifer is the Co-Founder of Work Shield, the only start-to-finish workplace harassment and discrimination reporting, investigation and resolution solution that protects employees, employers and cultures at the same time. Jennifer’s background as an attorney fueled her desire to help others. She leverages her experiences from Hewitt Associates, Thompson & Knight, and SMU’s Dedman School of Law to help employers shift the paradigm related to workplace harassment to ensure that everyone has a voice.
Connect with Jennifer on LinkedIn.