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Virtual Holiday Parties

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By Author: remotebridge
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People around the world and with all kinds of different religious and cultural backgrounds get feeling festive in the winter months, and your employees are (broadly speaking) likely to be no exception. Throwing a holiday party is a way to show your team how much you appreciate their work and collegiality. And there’s so much to celebrate from late fall through the new year! In addition to Christmas, your employees might observe:

Diwali (October 24, 2022; Nov 12, 2023)

Kwanzaa (December 16-January 1 Every Year)

Hanukkah (December 18-26, 2022; December 7-15 2023)

Día De Los Muertos (November 1-2, Every Year)

Boxing Day (December 26th, Every Year)

So, where to begin? You want to put on a holiday event that is inclusive and fun, that brings your team closer and doesn’t leave anybody out–and is still engaging when participants attend remotely. Here’s what you need to know to bring the holiday spirit to your party:

First, Avoid the “December Dilemma,” in which people who don’t celebrate the dominant December holiday–Christmas–can be made to feel isolated or excluded. ...
... For maximum cultural sensitivity, keep your party general, rather than specific to any particular cultural or religious tradition. American culture is so saturated with everything from Santa to nativity scenes from October through New Year’s Day, it can be easy to forget that many folks either don’t celebrate Christmas, don’t celebrate holidays at all, or celebrate it culturally only. Include as many team members with a diversity of backgrounds as you can in the planning of your party to ensure that everyone’s voices are heard and make clear that everyone’s input is welcome and encouraged.

Remember, your team members might not speak up if they’re feeling ignored. Leadership is responsible for asking the team itself the right questions to give your holiday party exactly the right cultural and community vibe for your group.

Now, to the practicalities of throwing a super-fun holiday party remotely:

1. Keep it casual
It’s wise to make no part of your holiday party mandatory–some people, like Jehovah’s Witnesses, don’t celebrate holidays at all, and others dealing with mental health concerns might feel particularly distressed during the holidays.

2. Be Considerate.
If you’re doing a hybrid party where food is involved, be careful what you serve–ham is off the table for Muslims and observant Jews, for example–and when you schedule– don’t put your food-related holiday party on a day when Muslim team members may be fasting for Ramadan, for example.

3. Be mindful of your employees’ relationships to alcohol
Consider having a portion of your party alcohol-free so everyone can comfortably attend at least a part some of it.

4. Find a great M.C.
Is there a member of your team who’s extroverted, directive, and really into the holiday spirit? Nominate that person to be your event’s Master of Ceremonies – the person who guides participants from one activity to the next and keeps the conversation going.

5. Collect RSVPs
Many teams like to open up their holiday parties to family or partners of their colleagues. This can be a fun way to get to know the important people in your team members’ lives; just be sure everyone is aware of whether children are invited, so you can ask to keep conversation rated PG. Even if you limit the guest list to team members only, it’s useful to know how many people plan on showing up!

6. Consider sending supplies in advance
If your team culture is so inclined, consider sending make-your-own cocktail/mocktail supplies to peoples’ homes in advance of the party. Think of a fun, inside-joke name for a cocktail/mocktail everyone can make together to raise a glass to your year’s successes. If alcohol isn’t part of your party, think about sending s’mores kits, or something else edible, that people can partake in together onscreen. (Ask for dietary restrictions, always!)

7. Encourage holiday attire
Encourage team members to arrive at the party dressed in whatever they consider “holiday” attire. That might mean a full Santa suit to some, or fancy cocktail dresses to others; anyone who wants to can share what their attire means to them to get the conversation started. Another fun holiday tradition in some circles is an “ugly sweater” contest, in which participants compete to have their sweaters evaluated (if you’re on Zoom, use the poll feature!) and the ugliest of all wins. Inexpensive and very ugly sweaters can often be found at thrift stores. (Note: one should never assume a team member is participating in an ugly sweater contest unless that team member explicitly says they are!)

8. Create content for social media.
Before the party, design a festive graphic to promote the party (don’t forget to include the date, time, and a link!) and post it days in advance. During the party, take screenshots of fun moments and, with participants’ permission, post them with the same tags later. Just make sure you’re communicating with your team through your oficial social media channels - not your personal channels.

9. Try a white elephant gift exchange
Have each team member bring an inexpensive gift, wrapped, to the party. One at a time, each person chooses one other person’s gift to claim as their own; anyone who chooses after that person can choose a new gift, or steal the first person’s gift. After everyone’s chosen, have people unwrap their presents to show each other what they’ve won, then exchange addresses (or do this centrally) so you can put them in the mail.

10. Consider holiday-themed ice breakers and trivia
For icebreakers, think of general questions like:

Which of Scrooge’s ghosts was the most effective, and why?

What’s the best gift you’ve ever given?

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?

Or, for trivia, pop-culture questions like: What holiday rose to popularity after it was featured on Seinfeld?

Which holiday is the busiest one for restaurants in the U.S.? (Mother’s Day!)

11. Play virtual Scattergories:
This is just like the board game, but without the board. Choose a category (office supplies, things found in the communal fridge, worst places to run into your boss) and a random letter, then give players 60 seconds to come up with as many things that both belong to the category and start with the letter as possible.

Schedule a Tour
Let the fun ensue in 2022 and bring your team together in a whole new way with immersive 3D from RemoteBridge

More About the Author

Make HR fun with virtual recruiting, onboarding, and team building. RemoteBridge connects people with immersive 3D. Our patent-pending technology, developed by a diverse group of talented engineers, is entirely browser based so no goggles or downloads are required. The result: New and existing team members now are just a link away from connecting to your organization’s mission, culture, and values - and each other - in an entirely new way. Let the fun ensue in 2022!

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