Holiday Celebrations, 2020-style

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This holiday season calls for a new spin on the traditional office holiday party.
When stay-at-home orders swept across the globe in March, no one anticipated that we would be planning holidays while still entrenched in the COVID-19 pandemic.

While some aspects of the holiday season remain safe to carry out, the office holiday party will certainly look different this year, even for those who have returned to the workplace. Below are a few alternatives to holiday office party traditions to make the season a little merrier – and a little safer.

Location & Activities

If local regulations allow a safe return to the workplace, the office may seem the obvious choice for a holiday party venue. However, if past holiday parties have involved buffet-style meals and gathering closely in the conference room, this year may warrant a change of scenery. Call up local restaurants and party venues to see if they are accepting reservations. This will help keep local businesses afloat and allow your coworkers to gather in an area that has approved distancing and sanitizing measures in place. If the weather allows, an outdoor location such as a park could also be a great opportunity to socialize safely.

While “Zoom fatigue” may be alive and well for remote teams, there are ways to make a virtual holiday party more festive. For larger groups, try a trivia, costume, or gingerbread house contest. You can showcase contestants during the party or present a highlights reel of entries and announce the winner live. For smaller groups, take turns sharing holiday traditions, recipes, or a round of 20-questions for the group with topics such as “What is your favorite holiday movie?” or “What holiday treat do you dislike?” (Spoiler: It’s fruitcake).

Food & Drinks

For physically distanced parties, the typical party choice for food involves caterers and guests serving themselves. This is tricky if not impossible when trying to ensure proper sanitization. This year ask local restaurants if they have individualized options for catering or simply place a group order. It might be best to have each manager or take charge of the ordering and delivery for their teams.

Even remote parties can take part in the “eat, drink, and be merry” festivities. With meal delivery services, it has never been easier to have a hot meal sent to someone’s doorstep. Or, since most coworkers are at home with their families, send a box of cookies, pastries, or a seasonal pie for the whole family to enjoy.

No matter if you are in the same building or scattered across the country, be sure to take a few minutes to acknowledge the incredible efforts of your coworkers. Recognize accomplishments from the past year with a champagne or hot cocoa toast. If remote, send a bottle of champagne, a canister of hot chocolate mix, or a gift card so all participants can enjoy their favorite holiday beverages.

Gifts & Cards

While the company budget may not allow for the typical holiday bonus this year, there are still plenty of ways to celebrate the season of giving. E-cards are a great way to connect with coworkers (and clients) near and far. Likewise, an e-gift card can say “your next peppermint mocha is on me – thank you for all you’ve done this year!” Contactless cards respect your coworkers’ space and alleviate the stress on essential postal and parcel delivery workers.

Instead of the typical Secret Santa or White Elephant gift exchange, a great alternative is a holiday drive for a charitable cause. Many families have felt the financial strain this year, making toys, warm clothing, and holiday feasts a luxury many simply can’t afford. Host a drive or encourage teams to fundraise for a cause that can benefit children, animals, the environment, victims of natural disasters, veterans, or any other cause that is close to your hearts.

This holiday season can still be fun for your workplace if you just put a little creative – and safe – spin on your usual traditions! In fact, now might be the perfect time to start some new traditions to make the season bright and meaningful for all.