How to Throw a Virtual Work Holiday Party (That's Actually Fun) | The Takeoff

The Takeoff Blog Logo

Your source for business management and technology success. Write for us.

How to Throw a Virtual Work Holiday Party (That’s Actually Fun)

Scott Hammer
November 23, 2020
7 min read

Boosting and maintaining employee morale is always a top priority for businesses. In 2020, this has been no easy task—to say the least. The sudden, drastic shift of converting living rooms into offices has gone much better than expected. But will the same be true of all of the less professional, camaraderie-building, one-too-many-glasses-of-punch moments that take place at an old fashioned company holiday party?

This year you won’t be drinking from the same punch bowl as the accounting department. You won’t have the thrill of sharing a high five after a successful karaoke rendition, and you won’t have the pleasure of witnessing all of your smiling employees gathered together. 

This year has repeatedly reminded all of us of the things we don’t have, but the holiday season isn’t a time for negativity. At the end of the day, you still have a whole lot—a group of individuals dedicated to shared success, the internet, and (possibly) a personal bowl of that special holiday punch. In a year defined by social distancing, here’s some tips on how you can make your company’s 2020 holiday season one to remember.

Virtual Game Night

Working from home has resulted in increased amounts of employee productivity and satisfaction. Who’s to say this success can’t be replicated when it comes to recreation? After all, video games have had a major leg up on board/party games for a while now.

Setting up an online game night for your employees to take part in is something that everyone can enjoy. Whether it’s a simple trivia game or an entire virtual platform with a variety of minigames, you’ll be able to bring your employees a unique experience. 

Whether you’re personally fond of corporate holiday festivities or not, many of your more introverted employees have probably shied away from them in the past. They could be turned off by the oft-chaotic mixture of large crowds and alcohol, or maybe they just really didn’t want to drive out on a blustery cold night. Whatever their reasons were, hosting virtual festivities will allow people that otherwise would not have participated to join in on the fun. 

Virtual Secret Santa

Yes, even in 2020, there will still be presents. To be fair, most of us have been putting our Amazon Prime memberships to good use recently, but presents are always better when the gift is a surprise. Even though you won’t be able to excitedly hand off your gift to an equally excited coworker this year, you can still facilitate a Secret Santa exchange between you and your employees. 

There’s something just so viscerally thrilling about tearing some wrapping paper apart at the seams. Despite being limited to the confines of their homes, your employees won’t want to miss out on the little sensations that make this time of the year so special—the crackling of tissue paper, the surge of adrenaline as you start to deduce the contents of your gift, and (if you’re lucky) the popping of bubble wrap. As an alternative or addition, consider sending themed eCards to your employees wishing them a happy holiday season.

Regardless of the types of gifts exchanged, people love gifts. Giving employee gratitude gifts boosts the motivation and dedication of employees. Your employees will appreciate the extra thought that went into making a gift exchange happen this year.

Virtual Bake Off

It wouldn’t really be the holiday season without some delicious treats. We all miss the surprise cookies and donuts during a day at the office. This year, the treat-sharing will be a little different. Whether it’s cookies, cakes, chocolate-covered pretzels, or anything in between, your employees can show off their culinary skills.  

Having a friendly baking competition is a great way to facilitate involvement from employees’ families. After all, the reason your employees are so dedicated to what they do is because of the great family they have behind them. So don’t nibble too much cookie dough or lick too much icing just yet—save some for the great bonding moments that come along with holiday baking.

Virtual Ugly Sweater Party

It wouldn’t really be the holiday season without some ugly sweaters. In lieu of flaunting dizzying arrays of contrasting colors around the office, your employees can have the chance to show their style in a virtual setting. 

If there’s one thing workers can agree on, there’s nothing quite like getting a laugh in at the bosses expense. So if you host an ugly sweater contest this year, you would be best served showing up in the ugliest, most unsightly get-up your employees have ever laid eyes on. Give them something to smile about—you’ll be smiling right along with them, too

Virtual Movie Night

While some may argue that Die Hard isn’t a true Christmas movie (it is), people love nothing more during the cold winter months than to curl up with a blanket with a glass of hot chocolate while watching a good movie. 

Movies are a great way to share and talk about a common experience, and you can stream holiday classics to all of your employees while they’re nestled up at home. For those that may want a more laid back, passive holiday party experience, this is the way to go.

In the wild world of streaming services, it seems like everyone indulges in their own personal flavor of television. Hollywood’s inclination to deliver plentiful amounts of niche content specifically targeted to certain audiences has limited people’s ability to bond over common media. Sure, this isn’t always the case, but the direction is clear. This year, you have the ability to buck that trend. Your employees have been deprived of “water cooler chats” about their favorite shows all year long. Give them a movie night that they can reminisce about and enjoy. 

It’s All About Spreading Holiday Cheer

No matter what kind of virtual festivities you choose to indulge in, don’t forget why you’re doing it in the first place—to spread good tidings and cheer to all of your hardworking employees. They deserve a night to forget about the struggles, hardships, and abrupt changes that this year has brought about. 

We’re all navigating through uncharted territory. The notion of “uncharted territory” brings to mind simultaneous yet conflicting emotions—the anxiety and fear of the unknown, and the limitless potential of hope over the horizon. 

It’s a brave new world out there. But you know what? That brave new world will still be there to greet you tomorrow. Tonight, take time to commiserate, celebrate, and be thankful. Give everyone a chance to drown out the outside world—even if it’s just for a fleeting, beautiful, precious moment.  

Scott Hammer Headshot

Scott Hammer

Scott Hammer is a business technology writer. His background is in literature and education, which means he can quote Emerson and Thoreau at moments that seem appropriate, but are ultimately random. If pushed, he can also write really, really long sentences.