With the COVID-19 pandemic, many things about this year have looked different than we originally anticipated. With the holiday season ahead, this is likely to continue, but your team still deserves a party! Renting out a big room at a local restaurant for a party isn’t going to work, but you don’t want the holidays to pass by without any celebration. You still want to show your employees that you appreciate them, and you still want everyone to have a good time and have something to look forward to. How do you make that happen? Here are a few creative ideas you can try (you’ll have to plan these on your own - unfortunately no one is endorsing me to help you set these up!)
Trade the holiday party for PTO.
Obviously if there is work to be done, this suggestion doesn’t work as well, but if your load tends to lighten around the holiday season, this is a solid suggestion that will likely be very well-received. Especially if you don’t have the budget for a party this year, this is a great way to make people feel appreciated and give them time to celebrate without breaking your budget.
Give everyone an extra two days off, maybe a Friday-Monday to make it an extra long weekend.
If you don’t already, give your people off the week between Christmas and New Year’s. If you already do, why not give them the 23rd, or an extra day at the start of January?
If you can’t afford to close down the office, give everyone an extra two or three days to bank to use whenever they want to.
The most obvious option is a Zoom party, but it shouldn’t be discounted! This one is especially great if you have people working from different states or employees who have moved out of the area to stay with family during the pandemic.
To make it feel more special, choose a chain restaurant with multiple locations and arrange to have dinner delivered to each one of your employees. The team can eat on Zoom together and enjoy each other’s company.
Make it feel more special by paying for everyone to do an at home wine tasting, or send a bottle of champagne to each employee.
Make it a costume party! Everyone dresses up in their favorite holiday outfit, or maybe they dress up as each other. Whatever will be the most fun for the group.
You can all arrange to watch a holiday movie together; Google Chrome has an extension called Netflix Party where you can all share a screen and type back and forth as you watch. It’s a great way to feel close even when you’re far away!
Cash is king.
Don’t be a Scrooge. If you cannot have a holiday party, make sure you’re still giving back in some way. Nobody says no to cash.
A bonus check your employees otherwise wouldn’t get makes a great gift.
A gift card to a restaurant or just an AmEx gift card are also good choices.
Donate the money you would’ve spent on the party to a charity. Allow the group to vote on where it should be donated so it feels like a group decision, and everyone will feel good about helping out this holiday season
Have the party anyway.
If that’s what you want to do, make sure you’re adhering to your local COVID regulations. I do not recommend having a holiday party in person without being safe. That being said, if you insist on having a party, here are some ways that can help you and your colleagues stay safe.
Hold the party in November so it won’t be too cold to have it outdoors. Combine Thanksgiving with the winter holidays for the all-inclusive holiday season.
Gather everyone to a heated rooftop to beat the winter chill and still have a great time.
Many cities are offering “bubbles” outside of restaurants, where you can eat in a heated bubble on the sidewalk so it’s still safer indoors.
Have a “pod-party” where your employees gather in groups of 3-5 instead of as a whole team. It’s low risk and may even cut down on the need to travel if you group people based on proximity. An added bonus - employees who otherwise might not be close may end up forming a friendship after having the opportunity to spend time together!
Whatever you decide to do, I would urge you to do your best to make your employees feel appreciated this holiday season. 2020 has been a difficult year for everyone, and we could all use an occasion to celebrate our hard work and enjoy ourselves as the year comes to a close.