For many companies, the annual year-end holiday party is their biggest chance to recognize and celebrate their employees.
As companies across the globe adapt to remote work, you may be stuck on how you can create a festive environment for your virtual company holiday party this year!
Even under strange circumstances, it’s important to show how much you appreciate your employees. It might—dare we say it?—be more important than ever. We’ve all been through a lot, but showing your appreciation doesn’t have to cost much money or include mailing out mini ice sculptures. 😉
But first, some general tips
Let’s go over some general tips to help you host the best remote holiday party. Or else you can jump straight to our 17 remote holiday ideas!! 🎉🎄🎁
Use Zoom rooms to recreate small group and one-on-one interactions
One of the company holiday party’s best parts is the one-on-one and group interactions you have with colleagues. Thanks to Zoom breakout rooms, you can recreate that feeling. Throughout the gathering, break your employees into small groups and provide an ice breaker to get the conversation started. Using Zoom rooms is especially important if you have a large number of employees on your roster.
Spotlight employees throughout the night
A remote party is different from a party you host in person. Make sure to plan, brainstorm conversation topics, and arrange activities!
Plus, to keep everyone’s attention, try dispersing employee awards throughout the night instead of having a big award ceremony at the end.
Make it fun for families, too
Since the party is taking place on the computer, your employees probably aren’t getting a babysitter for the night like they usually would. Your employees’ families will probably be around in the background, so you might as well try your best to accommodate them when picking activities.
For example, you could try:
- A speed “get to know you” round
- Having kiddos introduce their grown-ups
- A pet parade!
- Mix and match break-out rooms—try specific rooms for spouses and kids!
Be considerate of time zones
Your employees aren’t flying from all over the country to be in the main office. If you have a party at 7 pm in California, it’ll be 10 pm. in New York. Your best bet is to have your party during working hours. 🕟
If you have coworkers in other countries, time zones get even more complicated. You may have to accept that some people can’t come to the company holiday party, or they can only stay for a little while.
If you’d like everyone to see the party in its entirety, you can consider recording it and sharing the recording with the team.
Hashtags and Zoom backgrounds can add a fun cultural element to the night
Social media is a great way to get out the word about your company and the culture you’re building. You can do this even with a remote holiday party. Consider commissioning some unique Zoom backgrounds from a graphic designer or creating a special hashtag for the event.
Encourage your employees to use the hashtag and custom Zoom backgrounds to highlight the fun, make memories, and build some employer branding while you’re at it.
17 ideas for a remote holiday party
Excited yet? Good. Let’s talk about ideas.
1. Have a karaoke or lip sync battle
Everyone loves karaoke. Use Zoom to have everyone on your team do karaoke or lip sync to their favorite tracks. Bonus points if your team sings holiday songs. 🎤
2. Make fancy cocktails
Sometimes, the best part about corporate parties is the open bar. 🍸In 2019, the Bonusly holiday party featured a special guest bartender—our very own CEO, Raphael! We’re missing those vibes this year, but we’re looking at similar, remote-friendly options.
For example, you could work with a local bartender or use a kit to teach your employees how to make a drink or two at home. Your employees will have fun learning a new skill and chatting with their coworkers. You can also compete to see who makes the prettiest drink at the end of the night!
3. Get crafty
It’s always fun to learn something new together, and there are tons of classes your team can attend together (virtually!). For a fun holiday touch, why not try making a wreath?
Chat on Zoom as you complete the craft together. Your employees and their families will walk away with an item they can cherish for holidays to come!
4. Decorate holiday cookies
Everyone loves holiday cookies. Send your team a recipe for making cookies (or let them purchase premade cookie dough), so you can all decorate the cookies together. Send a kit with various sprinkles, frosting, and other goodies to make the cookie decorating contest even sweeter.
You can also involve family members by creating a few age brackets (best cookie decorated by a kid, best cookie decorated by a teenager, etc).
5. Send a special holiday package
It’s always fun to receive packages in the mail! We’ve been sending surprise thank-you packages to our team members lately, and they’re always a hit. For your holiday party, why not ship your employees a Caroo Holiday Box? Make your employees wait to open them until the actual remote party to build anticipation and excitement!
6. Host an ugly sweater party
We’re only putting effort into our looks from the waist-up, anyway. 😄
Get everyone to buy or craft the perfect ugly holiday sweater. From there, you can give awards for the most creative, ugly, or funny designs of the night.
7. Have a paint and sip party
Paint and sip parties are the best because you always have something fun to remember the night by—your painting! Reach out to your local paint party company and see if they’d do a virtual event for your employees. Send employees all the supplies they need to paint, along with a bottle of wine, and start painting!
If you can’t reach out to a paint party company, send everyone a paint by numbers kit. These kits usually come with all the supplies your team needs, and it’s hard to mess them up as long as you follow the numbers.
8. Play games
We all love a good party game! Use Zoom rooms to play games that you can easily access online, like Pictionary, Charades, or Bingo. There are also plenty of sites that let you play with others, even if you are in different locations.
9. Solve a murder mystery
Murder mysteries are fun to solve. Let your team get their detective hats out to solve a company murder mystery! Hosting a murder mystery takes some upfront planning, but with a little planning (or outsourcing!), you can create a mysterious night your employees will talk about for years to come.
10. Present a talent show
Showcase the talents of your employees. You never know what kind of talent you might discover with your employees! Encourage your talented employees to sign up for time slots throughout the night. Your employees can show their talent for singing, playing instruments, poetry—any number of creative endeavors. At the end of the night, you can crown a talent show winner, or you can just be blown away by the talent on your team.
11. Watch your favorite holiday movie
Having a remote movie night with your employees is easier than you think. Set up a time to watch and get on Zoom to react together.
Here are some holiday movie ideas:
- The Polar Express
- Home Alone
- A Charlie Brown Christmas
- The Santa Clause
- Love Actually
12. Organize a virtual Secret Santa
The miles between you and your coworkers shouldn’t stop you from having a gift exchange. Draw names, set a money limit, and send gifts to each other—remember to account for shipping times! To cut down on admin time, try a tool like Elfster!
A fun way to mix up Secret Santa this year is by giving prompts for recipients to answer. Then, it’s up to the gift giver to “interpret” those responses with a perfect care package!
13. Host a virtual fundraiser for a charity of your employees’ choice
Volunteering is a great tradition during the holiday season. Here are a few ideas:
- Arrange drop-off locations for a holiday food drive or for donating warm weather clothing
- Host a virtual fundraiser and raffle off prizes
- Volunteer at a food pantry by packing, organizing, or giving out food
- Deliver groceries or meals to seniors
14. Reflect and reminisce
On the heels of 2020, 2021 has also been a wild year.
But hey—it’s almost over! 😄
Take the time to reflect on the year—highs, lows, notable moments, everything! Write it all down. 2021 has felt like multiple years in one, so a quick timeline of your company’s accomplishments over the year can be impactful to see.
It can also be cathartic to write down the lows of the year to rip up with your colleagues. 🙃 We’re also big fans of writing haikus to commemorate the year!
Here are a few popular ones from Bonuslians:
Twenty twenty one
Thought you might give us a break
Dogs still ecstatic
–Laura Saracho, Content Marketing Manager
Can you see my slides?
Speaker notes should be hidden
I am bad at Zoom
–João Campos, Sales Operations Manager
Oh, am I on mute?
Alas, the moment has passed
Try again next time
-Vanessa Kahn, Marketing Specialist
15. Support local restaurants
We can’t eat together this year, but we can still support local restaurants. Give everyone a budget to purchase from a local restaurant they love. Have everyone go around on Zoom and talk about why they chose the restaurant they did (or do this in a Zoom room if you have a large organization). You may not be able to support your favorite caterer this year, but you can make an impact on many local restaurants with a virtual potluck.
16. Leave it to the professionals
Hey, you deserve some surprises, too! Remote team building is top of mind for many companies, so there’s no surprise that there are organizations dedicated to showing your employees a virtual good time.
17. Give recognition year-round
As much as a grand holiday party is, especially during these times, we need to give recognition year-round. Your employees need to hear about the fantastic work they do more often than at the end of the year or with an employee nomination program.
One of the easiest ways to give recognition year-round is a peer-to-peer recognition program like Bonusly. Bonusly allows everyone to get involved in the recognition process. From entry-level employees to the C-Suite, everyone can recognize employees for a job well done. Bonusly is cost-effective, optimized for remote teams, and allows your employees to see their value more often than once a year.
Conclusion: You can host a fun, remote holiday party!
Company holiday parties aren’t defunct now that remote work is a big part of our day-to-day lives. You can still celebrate with your employees, even if you are coming together over Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Hopefully, these ideas will help you host a party that brings your team together for a night to celebrate the end of the year while getting excited for the year ahead!