Ways to Reinvest Your Holiday Party Budget: Clever Ideas on How to Keep the Holiday Spirit Alive with Your Staff While Social Distancing

The office Christmas party. Whether you love it or dread the thought, it’s a tradition for everyone who has been part of the working week workforce. Even though holding a workplace holiday party doesn’t seem practical during a pandemic, managers are finding other ways to help their workers celebrate this year. In the spirit of social distancing, consider making it a virtual holiday party. 

Consider Virtual Parties 

Many companies offer virtual socializing products that provide music customization (think holiday tunes), holiday background themes, and icebreakers.  

One Dallas-based company, Preciate Social, allows multiple conversations to take place simultaneously, just like they would at an in-person business party or social event. The technology allows those attending to move away or toward people to start a conversation and to hear the background noise of other people chatting. Companies can even hire performers such as musicians and comedians to augment the event. 

Such options are “very inexpensive compared to hosting a traditional, in-person holiday party,” said Preciate Founder and CEO Ed Stevens.

“Workers appreciate virtual socials, even if they attend only for 10 minutes,” he said. “It doesn’t take a long interaction to further a connection between two people… Since virtual socials can happen more often, and since anyone can participate no matter where they are, it just makes everything easier, faster, and less expensive.”

Establish a Socially Distant Office Party Game Plan 

If you plan on celebrating in a non-virtual way, do it safely. The CDC currently recommends “keeping space between yourself and other people outside of your home.” Skip the big official office party and encourage divisions to host smaller get-togethers — outdoors if possible — so that individuals can stay the recommended 6 feet apart. Look into how to set up a canopy tent in case of inclement weather too. Make sure you stay up to date on the latest health guidelines and communicate them to your guests on the invitations. When everyone knows what to expect, there’s much less stress.

“Pod parties” work particularly well for those whose workplaces are back up and running, such as teachers or hospital and retail workers who already work with a close-knit, exclusive group. For larger offices, consider having each team host a smaller gathering in place of the annual company holiday party. As a bonus, these smaller celebrations can be much more budget-friendly than renting out a large party space for the whole company, so consider spending any extra budget on team member gifts.

Adapt your company Christmas party ideas 

The circumstances may call for tweaks to holiday party traditions or, more than likely, introducing new ones. How about custom T-shirts as gifts? Or face masks? They can be a company-wide theme or, if your company is small enough, individualized. No matter what you decide to do, it’s important to acknowledge that team members may be affected by the pandemic in very real and different ways. Be cognizant of when and how you host and give some grace to those who can’t participate.

Repurpose budgets 

In a normal year, you’re decorating the office and possibly even hosting more than one-holiday event. Perhaps this year it’s best to keep it simple and stress-free: pick one idea and do it as well as you can within your budget. With any remaining money, invest in something generous or thoughtful for the team, like a gift or a care package.

Virtual white elephant gift swap 

Gift exchange is an exciting change of pace, but it’s best not to burden anyone financially right now. Give each employee a $10 gift card and the mailing address of who they are buying to send gifts directly to the intended recipients. You could even provide a little inspiration by setting a theme for the swap—perhaps a book or cookbook swap or desk upgrades. Then, have everyone unwrap their presents together via an online chat. Learn how to make business cards online and create and send individualized cards to each employee listing their title in a new, funny way and include a slogan or saying that everyone knows them for. It’s personal, it’s fun, and it’s funny. 

Stream a holiday movie. 

Hype up the event with the best holiday movie bracket to determine a film you watch together. We’ll leave it up to you whether you think Die Hard is a holiday movie or not (hint: it is). 

Virtual company talent show 

Your more extroverted employees will have no problem putting themselves out there to showcase their skills, whether through songs or skits. Have interested participants sign up for slots and take turns. The video set always loves a chance to get their act online.

Virtual coffee break 

If team members are in multiple time zones, it can be tricky to set a time that works for everyone to gather. In this case, coffee can be a better fit than cocktails. Send a care package with custom coffee cups & baked goods for everyone to enjoy while you catch up, or send frozen cookies for reheating.

Office holiday party activities with social impact  

When so many communities are struggling, donating resources is a rewarding alternative to the customary company celebration. Giving an extra day off of work so the team can volunteer with an organization such as a food bank, soup kitchen, or shelter is a great way to deepen connections and give back to the community. Alternatively, things like canned food drives, toy drives, or coat drives don’t take a lot of effort but can have a big social impact. You could even organize a wrapping party to get all the gifts prettily packaged before drop off. There are ways to give back virtually, too, whether you help design a website for a nonprofit or provide career guidance to young BIPOC professionals looking to enter your industry.

Recognize the team 

The end of the year is a fitting time to thank and acknowledge each other, particularly following a period of time that hasn’t been easy on individuals and companies. Keep it positive and inclusive, whether you give each person a fun award or note each department’s outstanding accomplishments. 

References: 

Company Christmas Party Ideas During COVID19

https://eventsolutions.com/company-christmas-party-ideas-during-covid19/ 

Even if COVID-19 Is a Party Pooper, Employers Find Ways to Celebrate 

https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/people-managers/pages/covid-and-holiday-celebrations-.aspx 

Virtual holiday party ideas for toasting your team

https://www.paperlesspost.com/blog/virtual-office-holiday-party-ideas/ 

20 Ways to Celebrate the Holidays at Work on a Budget

https://www.bos.com/inspired/20-ways-to-celebrate-the-holidays-at-work-on-a-budget/ 

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