Blog: Holiday office party canceled? Try these 8 social distancing alternatives

Life @ Work

Holiday office party canceled? Try these 8 social distancing alternatives

From hosting a virtual champagne toast to gifting something small but meaningful like a pair of funny socks, try these eight social distancing alternatives to still have a very merry holiday season!
Holiday office party canceled? Try these 8 social distancing alternatives

While some of us might be jumping for joy that we don’t have to experience all the perils and pitfalls of the office holiday party this year, more than likely we’ll be feeling a twinge of sadness that we don’t get to gather closely with our teammates. While the coronavirus pandemic likely leaves us unable to completely recreate the traditional holiday office party, there are ways to celebrate that are just as fun and much less of a risk.

From hosting a virtual champagne toast to gifting something small but meaningful like a pair of funny socks, try these eight social distancing alternatives to still have a very merry holiday season!

Test your random knowledge with a team quiz night over Zoom

There’s something so exciting about watching colleagues become besties while working together as a team, and just because you can’t get together at the local pub for trivia night doesn’t mean you can’t host your own version from home. You can have employees create their own teams, or assign them ahead of time and invite creativity and showmanship throughout the virtual event! You can use e-learning platforms to set up an engaging trivia experience for the company, and give the winning team or teams the chance at fun prizes.

If your office is located somewhere warm, have a socially distant picnic or BBQ

If your team is comfortable getting together and local restrictions allow a company wide celebration, invite everyone to gather outdoors for a socially distant celebration. The event could be catered, or you could encourage employees to bring their own picnic fare to avoid sharing condiments or waiting in a line to be served. While activities might look a little different at an event like this, consider an outdoor movie screening or performance that could entertain the team while minimizing interaction.

Ship Secret Santa gifts so no one needs to leave their house to celebrate

Even if your state is starting to open back up, not everyone in the company might feel comfortable getting together with colleagues for leisure. To be sensitive to these folks while still offering the chance to celebrate, consider organizing a virtual Secret Santa gift exchange. Whether you coordinate over chat or email, let team members pick their favorite little gifts and assign them a “Secret Santa” who can get them a special gift just for them. An online gift card to their favorite shop, a pair of funny socks and a little trinket for their WFH setup go a long way.

Celebrate year-end success with an online awards ceremony

Take a cue from The Office and have your own company wide version of The Dundies, but consider taking it online and making the script (much, much) less offensive! Find a way to recognize the team as a whole, but also give top performers the public pat on the back they might be longing for. Just like Michael Scott, you can even celebrate some of the unique achievements that could only come out this time at home - like “best WFH setup,” “coolest slippers,” “cutest video chat accessorizer” for the employee who always wears funny food earrings or “most likely to forget to mute.” Awards can be virtual or shipped to the winners’ homes.

Host a holiday costume competition, complete with virtual voting

See who has the most spirit with a costume contest that inspires people to get creative and forget about work for a little while. Give employees the chance to prepare their costumes ahead of time, then get together for a virtual fashion show. Voting can take place at the company level with everyone getting a vote, or you could invite some guest judges to offer their “expert” opinions and crown the winner. If you don’t want to go the holiday route, you can make the costume contest based on your own unique industry.

Kick off an employee rewards program while spirits are high

For a lot of industries, it’s a tremendous feat for any business that’s been able to stay afloat this year. If your team has been able to make it through these last few months, there’s a lot to be grateful for, and it’s worth it to recognize all of the hardworking people who kept things moving forward even when faced with hardships. If you’ve ever wondered when and how to start an employee rewards program, there is no better time than the holiday season to do some research and kick off a program of your own as 2021 approaches.

Host a virtual happy hour, complete with a champagne toast

When you can’t get the team together for an after work happy hour, bring happy hour straight to the team! Ship a bottle of bubbly to each employee as a thank you gift, encourage everyone to dress up just like they would if they were going out somewhere special and toast to the team’s accomplishments over Zoom. Consider using the breakout rooms feature to let coworkers mingle as if they’re at the real thing!

Gift the team something sweet, and ship it straight to their door

If your team members might prefer to celebrate their hard work with their close family and friends, give them a little something sweet to enjoy that can be delivered right to their doorsteps. A themed gift basket filled with candies, a bottle of wine, funny socks and a relaxing candle offer just the right mix for the team to enjoy some r&r in the comfort of their homes. Work in a fun hashtag contest to encourage employee engagement. You can even offer a prize to the most creative use of holiday gifts!

A Very Merry (Socially Distant) Celebration

Even those of us who don’t enjoy all the pomp and circumstance of a holiday party might still be feeling a little bit sad to miss out on the opportunity to celebrate with our coworkers, especially since many of us have been socially distant from one another for quite a few months now. Just because we can’t have the traditional party we’ve always been used to doesn’t mean there aren’t still ways to have fun together. With a little bit of creative planning, you can create an exciting and memorable experience the team will be talking about for years to come.


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Topics: Life @ Work, Watercooler, #GuestArticle

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