As hard as it is for all of us to believe, the holiday season is well underway. In fact, when this article is published, there will be only 27 more days until Christmas. As if the pressure of that fact is not enough, please let me remind you that you have limited time left to host a holiday party with your virtual colleagues.
Now, before you convince yourself that such a feat simply can’t be done, read on.
I’ve compiled five easy steps to help you make a holiday get together more than a remote possibility (pun intended … see what I did there … remote).
1. Consider the Timing
When scheduling your Virtual Holiday Party, remember to consider that your employees may be in different time zones. Depending on where everyone is, it may not be the most ideal time for everyone, but, try to be creative. For example, your party could be a festive lunch on the East Coast while simultaneously a fun breakfast on the West Coast. Once you nail down a time, use a popular e-card site to send everyone invitations.
One of my faves is JibJab. They always have those fun dancing heads cards, like the dancing Holiday Elves (use your colleague's pics on the card, and you’ll have a fun and quick way to personalize the invites).
2. Leverage Your Technology and Tools
The same tools that enable your team to be productive while working can also be used to help bring everyone together for a Virtual Holiday Party. Platforms like Skype, Zoom, or WebEx can be used to get everyone on-screen for your virtual celebration. In fact, your team could use it as an opportunity to show off their offices, introduce their office mate(s) (aka their family pets), or share the glory of their Christmas tree or lighting displays. This goes a long way in fostering that festive atmosphere and helps to bring the team closer. Sometimes I wonder what my colleagues’ offices look like or wonder about the furry face that goes along with that dog bark I hear from time to time on our conference calls. So I would really enjoy the chance to get to know my coworkers better by experiencing those things.
3. Play Games or Have a Contest
You can still have an ugly sweater contest. Or, have everyone turn in a picture of their workstations and see if you can guess whose desk it is. There are also online Karaoke or gaming sites where everyone can get online together and sing their hearts out or showcase their gaming prowess. Or, you could design your own game (business catchphrase jeopardy, a round of bingo, etc.).
4. Do a Craft Together
If you don’t think a game will be popular, maybe your team would be up for a fun craft project. Those picture painting or paint your own pottery projects can be really fun! Send your team the supplies ahead of time, and have everyone get started together. You’re sure to have some laughs as everyone shares their progress on their DIY masterpieces.
5. Celebrate Your Accomplishments
Take a minute to recognize all the wonderful things your team has accomplished over the past year. If you’d normally distribute awards, you can showcase them on your webcam and ship them out the next day to the recipient(s). In the end, a Virtual Holiday Party is a fun way to bring the team closer, but, making a point to acknowledge your business’ successes and shifting the focus momentarily on some of the upcoming challenges ahead reminds everyone of why you are all gathering together to celebrate in the first place.
Here Are More Ideas to Plan Your Virtual Holiday Party:
1. Send Invitations
2. A Celebratory Toast
If the timing and culture are such that a celebratory toast would be appropriate, consider polling your team ahead of time to find out if they’d like champagne or sparkling cider. Then, you could ship out single servings of either and have everyone open them and participate in a celebratory team toast together.
3. Make a Team Video
Ask your team to submit a snippet of video on a given topic (you could even recommend a theme or supply props for the effort in advance). Then have someone pull the content together and set it to music, and you’ll have a few minutes of entertainment for your party.
4. Send Out a Party Box
Create a party box, filled with goodies, props, noisemakers, confetti, awards, etc. and ship one out to everyone. As you celebrate together, have your team pull out various pieces from the box together.
5. Host an Office Notables Contest
Like your yearbook awards from high school, have the team vote ahead of time on funniest, best personality, etc. Ship them out in advance to each winner, and ask everyone to wait to open their package until their name/award is announced.
6. Group Gift Exchange
Have everyone purchase a small gift for a gift exchange and mail their items into one central person. That person can help to virtually host a traditional or white elephant gift exchange.
Just because you work remotely doesn't mean that you have to forgo the holiday party. With a little prep and planning, you can enjoy and get to know your coworkers better through a virtual holiday party!
Have you ever attended a virtual holiday party? What worked? What didn’t? What additional ideas would you add to the mix? How did you keep everyone engaged and involved?
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Christy Schutz is a communications professional, and freelance writer focused on topics like employer/personal branding, career management, personal development, women in the workplace, and female entrepreneurs. She enjoys putting 16+ years of experience in the advertising, recruitment marketing, employee/internal communications and special events industries to good use by helping others to discover, develop and market their own distinct calling or mission. This Tampa Bay, FL-based Mom also keeps herself busy by raising four kids, caring for her husband & doting on her dogs Petey and Daisy!