‘Tis the time of year to come together, celebrate a year gone by, and ring in a new one. But with lockdowns and restrictions across much of the globe, holiday celebrations feel quite different during COVID-19. Physical gatherings pose risks and for most, the past year brought unimaginable challenges.
Many leaders have already decided not to host gatherings. The portion of companies planning holiday parties declined from 76% to 23% this year, with 74% of planned celebrations hosted virtually, according to a survey by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.
In uncertain times, figuring out ways to adapt holiday celebrations during COVID-19 to be virtual, low-cost, and inclusive is critical for maintaining engagement. Participation in group rituals and celebrations plays an important role in creating a sense of belonging and camaraderie.
Especially after a challenging year, ending on a positive communal celebration will impact how your team remembers their 2020. According to Daniel Kahneman’s “peak-end rule”, people largely judge an experience based on how they felt at its most intense point and at its end. Thus, closing out a tough 2020 on a high note is a great strategy for building morale and momentum for 2021.
Let’s explore some ideas for reimagining a 2020 Holiday Party that your team can remember fondly!
1. Virtual Game Night
How well does your team know their Christmas Movie trivia? Is anyone a secret shark at the popular group game Among Us? Find out by hosting a holiday themed game night on Zoom or Teams in lieu of an in-person celebration. Check out more game ideas in our Fun Virtual Team-building Events post.
2. Share Your Family Traditions
Create a chance to build deeper connections by sharing family traditions together over some virtual hot chocolate. Each team member can select a story, song, meal, or event that captures their family’s annual traditions and present it to the team.
3. Recipe Book
Family recipes are some of our most cherished holiday traditions. While no ingredients can replace grandma’s love and care, sharing recipes is like sharing a piece of your family. Compile submitted recipes of family favorites on your team into a virtual recipe book that your team can cherish.
4. Food Drive, Toy Drive, or Charitable Giving
One of the best ways to celebrate the season (and easily adapted to remote) is to give back to the local community with an organized donation drive. With the added challenges of in-person volunteering this year, instead consider helping brighten up the holidays by sponsoring gifts for those in need. Last year Align purchased gifts from Amazon for a local women’s and children’s shelter. While we can’t collect them under our office tree again, we were still able to select gifts and ship them directly to the organization from an Amazon wishlist. If you’re looking for a meaningful holiday activity for your team, consider contacting local charities and taking time to give back.
5. Cookie Decoration or Baking Class
Host a bake-along led by your co-worker who just binged every episode of Great British Baking Show or follow along with a youtube tutorial. Prizes may be awarded to the best looking, the most creative, and the “best attempt”.
6. Caroling Karaoke
While not for everyone, showing off some hidden talents with a virtual holiday-themed Karaoke competition. Bust out your best Mariah Carey impression and grab the (fake) microphone.
7. Secret Santa or White Elephant
Just because your team can’t be together, doesn’t mean you can’t do a gift exchange. Executing a White Elephant swap may be challenging on Zoom, but some e-commerce sites have got you covered. Secret Santa is a less chaotic method: draw names, order things online, and gather to open them together on Zoom. Gifts can still be personalized and creative!
8. Ugly Sweater Day
Dig deep in your closet for the holy grail of seasonal clothing: the ugly Christmas (or any holiday) sweater. Award prizes for the most creative or most stylish sweater.
9. Keep it Inclusive
Regardless of how your team chooses to celebrate this year, make it an opportunity to celebrate your team’s diversity and inclusivity. The holiday season means different things to different people and celebrations should reflect the breadth of cultures and interests on your team. For health or personal reasons, not everyone on your team may choose to drink. While a holiday cocktail hour is still a good idea, this year can be a chance to avoid some of the company holiday party’s less savory aspects. “At corporate holiday parties, you typically get a handful of folks who end up drinking too much and do something embarrassing,” says Ryan Costello of Event Farm in the Wall Street Journal. “If you’re drinking at home by yourself, you’re not going to have that experience.”
The Align Team wishes your team and their families a safe and happy holiday season and best of luck in 2021! Photo from 2019
Celebrations During COVID-19: A Final Note
Corporate celebrations during COVID-19 will inevitably look a bit different than in years past. But, with a little creativity, companies can find ways to bring a little cheer while remaining safe.