How To Plan An Engaging Virtual Company Holiday Party

By: Stephen Baer

November 13, 2020

 

 

Over the years I’ve worked for a variety of companies, some fully in-person, some partially remote and some fully remote. One thing that all of these companies have in common is that they put corporate culture front and center, regardless of where employees sit.

 

In one recent survey by Intermedia of 250 business leaders, 94% of small and medium-sized business owners responded that in-person meetings have played an important role in growing their business over the past two years. With Covid-19 front and center, 84% are using video conferencing to facilitate face-to-face interactions. This will be an ever-increasing tactic since 57% have reported a plan to increase remote working options for employees in the long-term. 

 

Employee engagement must happen 365 days a year, but holidays offer particularly good opportunities to remind our workforce just how important they are to our business. Below are some tips and a few activities for a corporate virtual holiday party that will help boost employee engagement, morale and productivity.

 

Planning Tips For Corporate Virtual Holiday Parties

If teams are accustomed to a large in-person holiday party, this year will offer something new: a celebration from a safe distance. It’s important to create clear guidelines and reasonable expectations for your event. Before jumping into event ideation for your corporate virtual holiday parties, consider the following tips to help you get the planning process started:

  • Pick a main objective for the holiday event.
  • Designate a virtual location. Your employees might be Zoomed out by now, so consider a new destination like Google Hangouts, Houseparty or FaceTime.
  • Have fun with your e-invites. Whether your invite is delivered over the web or in the mail, you can set the tone and get your employees excited. 
  • Dress for success. Your party will be more fun if everybody dresses up. That doesn’t mean they have to be formal. It could be an ugly sweater theme or a favorite winter costume or something specific to your culture.
  • Reward employees early and often. Who doesn’t like a good prize? Consider making the event as rewarding as possible. Include games, contests (costumes and captions) and prizes. Lots of prizes. 

 

Three Different Activities For Corporate Virtual Holiday Parties

Holiday parties are an important part of company culture, allowing us to reward our employees for all the work they’ve done throughout the year. While many may think that a virtual holiday party will be hands-off, you can include interactive gamified elements to make it more engaging and fun. Here are a few activities to incorporate into a virtual holiday party.

  1. Mixology or cooking classes: Nothing brings teams closer together like food and a few drinks. During a remote holiday party, consider hosting virtual mixology or cooking classes as a fun activity for everyone to enjoy. To make things easier, you will want to plan ahead and send care packages with the necessary food and drink ingredients. Once the class is complete, everyone will be loosened up to play games together for a few extra laughs.
  2. Gingerbread wars: In advance of your virtual holiday party, send your employees gingerbread kits and a list of rules to create a winning structure. During the holiday party, give everyone a chance to showcase their creations and have the team vote on the winning gingerbread houses. Give the winners an award and keep the party going with more games afterward.
  3. Team-building games: Utilizing games at a holiday party is a great way to get your employees more involved while also creating a healthy level of competition. Here are a few interactive game ideas for a virtual holiday party:
  • Trivia: Create categories based on your achieved goals, industry or company culture and quiz everyone on the right answers.
  • Awards show: Hand out silly awards to your employees, such as “most likely to get on Zoom first” or “multi-task champion."
  • Scavenger hunt: Give everyone prompts, like “find an item that means something to you” or “find the weirdest thing in your fridge” to help people get to know each other better.

Throughout the games, hand out prizes so your employees are incentivized to stay engaged.

 

Bond With Your Team By Planning A Virtual Holiday Party

While our holiday parties might look a little different this year, it’s still important to celebrate employees’ achievements and to set the stage for a great year ahead. After all, we could all use a reason to laugh and spend time together right now. Whether you decide to play interactive games or host a class, careful planning and creativity will help increase employee engagement during the holiday party.


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Stephen Baer is Co-Founder and Head of Creative Strategy at The Game Agency and The Training Arcade - exciting, engaging and educating audiences. Read Stephen Baer's full executive profile here.