Virtual Holiday Parties & Company Gathering Alternatives

Young sad businesswoman in Christmas hat sitting at table with laptop computer.

Holiday party season is almost upon us. This year with the COVID-19 pandemic still ongoing, many employees still working remotely, and social distancing requirements still in place, office holiday parties are likely going to look a bit different – if they even happen at all.

With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of fun virtual gathering and party ideas for your organization to help you get your creative juices flowing when it comes to planning a 2020 holiday party.

Virtual Holiday Party Ideas 

Virtual Happy Hour

This is perhaps the most straightforward and obvious idea, but it’s still a good option for a few reasons. It will take the least amount of coordination (which we all know is an advantage at this point), it’s affordable, and it’s relatively convenient for all those who want to attend. 

Set a time and have a virtual happy hour with your team (and their families, if you choose to extend the invitation – though that may make virtual ‘mingling’ a bit more difficult). Gather for a short while to share some casual conversation and beverages, with everyone attending from the comfort of his or her own home. 

A virtual happy hour doesn’t necessarily require much structure. Just try to let conversation flow. Allow people to come and go as they choose. Don’t feel the need to force the gathering. When the conversation peters out or people seem ready to go, call it a night! 

Online Games

Online games have become increasingly popular lately – which should come as no surprise given that most humans crave social interaction and the pandemic has severely limited our opportunities to socialize. In addition to socializing with friends, these games can also be a great team building exercise or make for a fun virtual gathering among coworkers.

Choose from everything from virtual escape rooms and virtual office olympics to online board games and team trivia games. Whether you’re gathering with just a handful of people or dozens of employees, there’s likely an option out there that can work for you. 

Some online game companies are even offering game facilitators, meaning that you can purchase the experience and fully enjoy it as a group, without someone from your organization having to do the coordinating. Definitely an option to consider as we approach this unconventional holiday season. 

Virtual Awards Show

The holiday season is a great time to really appreciate the hard work of your colleagues and the contributions they’ve made to the company throughout the year. If you’re unable to have a holiday party to celebrate everyone’s hard work in person, consider hosting a virtual awards show and acknowledging each employee individually. 

This could be a fun way to celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of employees while honoring the spirit of the holiday season and boosting morale as a whole. It will take some preparation on behalf of the coordinator, but hosting a virtual awards show creates a structured virtual event (which many people will appreciate) and also focuses on the good that has come out of the past year, which can leave people feeling a bit more appreciated and positive.

Holiday Party Alternatives

With near-constant Zoom meetings, Google Hangouts, Skypes, and FaceTimes happening in everyday life these days, another virtual gathering may not be what employees and team members consider to be a good time when it comes to a holiday party. 

As such, it may be worth considering alternative ideas for celebrating the holidays with your work colleagues. Here are a few ideas to consider if a holiday gathering – virtual or otherwise – just doesn’t seem feasible. 

Special Deliveries

Rather than doing a holiday party, spend the money you would have spent on a holiday gathering to send employees a small gift to show your appreciation for their hard work over the past year. Some ideas for these care packages include: 

  • Gift boxes
  • Gift certificates to local restaurants
  • Holiday cookies or sweet treats
  • Holiday cookie decorating kits
  • Holiday wreaths

Showing employees that you care about them and you appreciate them through a thoughtful gift can be a great way to boost morale even if a holiday party isn’t possible.

Ugly Sweater Contest

An ugly sweater contest is possible whether or not you’re working in-office. This holiday tradition is beloved in many workplaces, and with a little bit of creativity, you can make it happen virtually.

Have everyone wear their ugliest holiday attire and submit photos, then vote to determine the winner. You may find that people get even more into the ugly sweater tradition when they can do so from the comfort of their own homes! This simple contest is a great way to keep the holiday spirit alive even from a distance. 

Holiday Recipe Book

You might not be able to gather together to enjoy a traditional holiday potluck or party this year, but you can still enjoy some favorite holiday recipes! Collect holiday recipes from coworkers and combine them into a curated cookbook, then share it around as a physical copy, or a digital copy. 

This is a simple yet meaningful alternative to a holiday party that employees can enjoy throughout the holiday season and beyond.

Virtual Company Holiday Parties & Thoughtful Gestures During COVID-19

Despite the fact that the work world has evolved, camaraderie and team building are just as important as ever. In fact, they may be even more important. Given the challenges many employees and companies are facing, it’s not unusual for morale to be low and stresses to be high. 

While it may be tempting to cancel the annual company holiday gathering given the circumstances (and, we acknowledge that doing so may truly be the right choice for your business), a virtual holiday gathering or an alternative gesture in the spirit of the holidays could be a small effort that helps keep your team feeling unified, encouraged, and hopeful as we move into the new year. 

Thinking about hosting a virtual get-together? Check out these tips for a successful online gathering!

Dreading your company holiday gathering even though it’s virtual this year? Some of these holiday party tips for introverts still apply to online holiday parties and might help!

Feeling the WFH fatigue despite the holidays on the horizon? Here are some tips to help you make working from home work for you.