Remote work can make fostering personal connections more of a challenge. For small businesses with remote employees, hosting an in-person office party won’t be an option — but there’s no reason you can’t still celebrate the holiday season virtually. Here are a few ways to take advantage of the holiday season for some extra team building.
Employers, managers, and team leads can amp up the holiday spirit by sending out kits, snacks, or decor to accompany the holiday party theme, or they can plan a virtual class or contest to make things merry and bright! Make sure to order in time for the event! It’s a small gesture on the part of the company that makes employees feel appreciated and welcome, so we believe it’s kind of a big deal to do something together! If you find out it's too late for December, consider a New Year company celebration.
Here are our top ten recommendations for a virtual holiday party. Remember that as a team lead, manager, or business owner, it may be awkward or financially difficult for your employees to buy holiday gifts, so we don’t recommend organizing a gift exchange or Secret Santa game. If they want to organize one among themselves, that’s fine, but always be respectful not to ask them to spend money on a work event.
Also, as a DEI consideration, remember that not everyone celebrates the same holidays, so make sure all employees are included and made to feel welcome. That is our first recommendation for your virtual festivities, in fact!
The main premise for all of these ideas is that you celebrate in a virtual space, so whether you use Zoom, Google Meet, or another video chat space, that’s where these virtual events will take place.
Make your whole team feel included by having everyone share something about either a holiday tradition in their family or in their culture as a warm-up to any other activities you may have lined up. That way, you are opening the floor for them to talk about themselves, and the event is more inclusive, even if the rest of the event is specific to, say, Christmas or Chanukah.
Ask your team members to add their favorite holiday songs to a playlist that you can either play at the event or share beforehand for everyone to enjoy on their own time. It’s a fun way they can contribute without the burden or expense of a gift.
Depending on your team, a virtual caroling event could be fun! Set it up as a virtual karaoke with these steps, and ask participants to plan their song choices ahead of time.
You can have a holiday theme or not, depending on your employees. Alternatively, you could ask among your teams if anyone is a singer and wants to lead a virtual caroling to start the event (if you choose this option, be careful to set a limit, like 2-3 songs, because not everyone will enjoy a long concert)!
This may be the easiest idea of all, but you can spice it up by planning group activities or conversations during the happy hours, including some of the other ideas on this list. Because this is different than a usual happy hour, make sure the holiday theme is there, and it would be ideal to send out cocktail kits or similar (or the non-alcoholic cocktail kits where they can add the spirits of their choice but don’t have to if they don’t drink alcohol). Looking for an interactive theme? How about a game of holiday trivia or an ugly sweater contest.
It’s a fun way to make a toast by hiring a service, such as Hey Bartender or Cozymeal, to host a virtual cocktail or mocktail-making class. Be sure to order this ahead of time so the service can mail your employees the kits and recipes! Or, prefer to do something to satisfy the sweet tooth? Send out cookie decorating kits and let them explore their holiday creative spirit.
These ubiquitous painting classes are popular for a reason, and they have virtual events, too! It’s a fun way to get everyone to relax while they’re making something they can enjoy for themselves or gift to others. They send out the supplies to all participants, so plan ahead. There are numerous companies that do this, such as Paint the Town, Confetti, or Painting with a Twist.
Whether your company does this year-round or not, this could be a nice way to encourage your employees to give back by hosting a holiday matching drive throughout the season.
If you just groaned, then this idea is not for you. Haha. Slack is revered and reviled by many, but it is a reality in many companies nowadays. Setting up a Slack channel to share holiday decor, family or pet pictures, or other themed ideas is a nice way to make Slack useful in bringing teams together on a personal, and not just a work, level. Be sure to follow these Slack Ten Commandments put together by Decent’s CEO, Nick Soman.
Kick off a holiday get-together in the morning one day, and keep it short, real short, with a quick game or chat, then be everyone’s holiday hero by deeming the rest of the day a virtual snow day and telling everyone to log off. It will truly be appreciated!
There are companies out there, like Teamland and Unexpected Virtual Tours that have loads of options for virtual team-building events and virtual parties to celebrate. It’s a tidy, one-stop shopping option for the time-strapped small business owner!
Holiday fun doesn’t have to be just for in-person staff. Remote employees need opportunities to connect apart from work tasks, too. Encourage them to celebrate the season and have some fun together. It’s a great way to show you value them! Don’t have time to schedule one this month. The New Year is still part of that "wonderful time of year" to celebrate your people.