For some of us, that nip in the air and the dropping of the leaves sets off an alarm. Yep, it’s time to start planning the company holiday party. As with most things in 2020, that’s going to look very different this year, and many won’t happen at all.
But here’s the thing. Employee holiday parties aren’t just for co-opting the karaoke machine to perform your special rap version of Bohemian Rhapsody. Au contraire, they help with morale, and they’re a great opportunity to reinforce your company culture.
With many people working remotely this year, they’re also a great opportunity to build relationships outside of work. And including significant others gives them insight into that thing we do for eight hours (or more) every day.
Of course, none of that is more important than staying safe and protecting the health of those around us. So what’s the answer? We get creative.
But That Party, Though
At Estipona Group, we approach the Secret Santa tradition a little differently. We draw names and create personalized ornaments for our selected recipient. This is a fun way to learn more about our co-workers (because the ornaments often reflect inside jokes or little-known aspects of our personal lives), but also to get creative. And it is a lot of fun laughing and reminiscing about why the hand-crafted caprese avocado or a mulleted Michael Bolton on a shiny ball are so very, very funny.
We’ll still do that this year, though delivery will take a bit more effort. Then we’ll have our favorite caterer, Brooke Lampert of Divine Plate, prepare and deliver individual meals for the members of our staff and their significant others.
We’ll gather together on video to eat the food, drink the champagne, and open our presents. Though it may not be quite as much fun as when we do this in person, it is a chance to talk about non-work stuff and give everyone a chance to get to know the other people who are important to us. And we make some rockin’ ornaments!
One advantage to a Zoom party is that it allows us to more easily include our out-of-market teammates who live in other states — and even other countries!
We do understand that Zoom is not as much fun as a party in person, especially after we’ve already been on video calls all day, but there are some ideas on how to liven them up, if you don’t want to make gifts for each other.
- Zoom Icebreakers: Not everyone is comfortable with small talk, and we’re assuming this is becoming even more clear as we spend less in-person time with each other. So how about an ice-breaker where everyone gets a chance to talk? These could include “Two Truths and A Lie” or “I Spy,” where you’re taking turns calling out what you see in each other’s backgrounds. We also had a blast for one virtual cocktail hour playing “Most Likely.”
- Zoom Favorites: Take turns talking about your favorite Netflix binge, what books you’re reading, what you’re baking, new skills you’ve picked up since the pandemic started, or where you’re most looking forward to going when this is over.
- Game Night: Gamers have understood how to stay connected virtually for years, and now there are all kinds of options for us to do the same. Houseparty is a face-to-face networking app that allows up to seven people to play games like Heads Up, Apples to Apples and QuickDraw. And JackBox Games tests our knowledge of pop culture trivia. You can also go old school if everyone already has Cards Against Humanity or Utter Nonsense at home.
It’s All About the Gifts!
We don’t have to come together in person (or video) to accomplish these goals. But this has been a tough year in a lot of ways, and it is important to acknowledge our teams in some way. Some might say this is more important now than ever. (Though we would never say that, as we’ve grown quite weary of that phrase.)
Some organizations are going full-on Secret Santa, while others are figuring out the cost of the party and dividing up the money among their employees instead.
Don’t tell their staff members, but Jay Kenny, owner of Doughboy’s Donuts, is putting the party money to good use through gift cards and bonuses for all of his 80 employees. And Amy Dewitt-Smith of Neighbor Network of Northern Nevada is getting appreciation gifts and delivering them to the members of her team.
Instead of their normal holiday party, Sierra Nevada Nephrology Consultants (SNNC) is planning 12 Days of Christmas. Every employee’s name will be put in a drawing, and a doctor will select two each day. The prizes will start small and build up. But to be fair, everyone’s name will be put back in the drawing at the end for the grand prize drawing.
“Our team has been on the front lines from the very beginning, and we need a safe way to show them they’re appreciated,” said SNNC CEO Sheila Poco. “So we took our normal holiday party budget and put it into prizes.”
Regardless of how you plan to do it, it’s important to keep in mind that acknowledging the holidays doesn’t have to be elaborate; however, it is important to show our appreciation for our team in some way. How are your teams getting creative this year? Comment on our FB post, and we can add to our blog. Because ‘tis the season for sharing great ideas!