Remote Celebrations: The 7 Elements Of An Epic Virtual Holiday Party

Epic Virtual Holiday Party
(teksomolika / Freepik)

Remote work culture is wonderful for many reasons: the freedom, the autonomy, the productivity. Your employees love it. You love it. You’ve been able to create a process for just about every aspect of your business, and you run an impressive remote operation. You've learned that hiring remote employees has been an excellent advancement for your company.

But what happens to your holiday party? Employees look forward to getting together and relaxing with their coworkers each year. Everyone has come to look forward to the holiday treats, a gift exchange, and the chance to wear their favorite seasonal attire. It is your yearly opportunity to remind your employees just how much they mean to your company. Is the magic of the holiday party even possible to achieve remotely? Can the holiday spirit be brought to life over video conference? With thoughtful planning and intentional execution, people may love the virtual version of your favorite festivities even more.

The most significant part of a holiday party is the connection that can occur. Something magical about the holidays creates an unmatched festive atmosphere, and utilizing that energy to show your employees how much you value them will help you launch into the new year with fresh ambition. It’s a phenomenon that is hard to recreate in any other season, so don’t let that energy go to waste just because you are virtual. There are great ways to foster community and team bonding by orchestrating a virtual holiday party that everyone will enjoy.

Let’s explore seven key elements of a great holiday party and make them virtual:

1. The Gift Exchange

It wouldn’t be a holiday party without a gift exchange. You can coordinate this year's virtual exchange in a variety of ways. Participants can send their gifts early, ensuring they arrive in time to open them during the party. Everyone will enjoy getting to watch their colleagues open their surprise. Another simple way is to coordinate a gift card exchange, delivered virtually straight to an email inbox. However you execute it, everyone will be glad they didn’t miss a chance for a fun exchange.

2. The Dress Code

You can have a little fun with the aesthetic of your video chat. Encouraging participants to dress for the occasion will make everyone's screens drip with holiday cheer. Whether you’d like everyone in a festive sweater, a specific color, or decked out in their finest holiday attire, communicate a specific dress code and consider offering an incentive for those who participate.

3. The Food

Food is going to be the thing that people miss the most about moving to a virtual party. While it’s hard to recreate an epic snack table when everyone is spread out across the country, a little creativity can allow everyone to have the chance to indulge in holiday treats. Some fun alternatives can be an exciting way to surprise your employees and achieve the culinary expectations of party-goers:

  • Pre-Party Delivery: With careful planning, you can have shipments of holiday party treats and snacks delivered to the homes of your participants. Instruct everyone to open the box before the call to snack while socializing.
  • Cookie Exchange: A cookie exchange is a fun way to build connections while providing treats. Have people sign up in advance and bake cookies for a coworker. Everyone who participates will get to bake some fun treats and also receive a box in the mail to enjoy for themselves.
  • Recipe Exchange: Everyone has that one recipe they make every year for the holidays. Encourage your team to share them. You can compile a file with everyone's submissions or create a cookbook.
  • If you feel extra ambitious, you can host a virtual dinner party. Coordinate meal deliveries to your teammates, encourage them to pour a glass of wine or non-alcoholic beverage, and toast each other while you engage in conversation.

4. Personal Call-Outs

Make your party feel more personal by recognizing individual efforts by team members this year. You have all worked hard, and highlighting outstanding efforts will help individuals feel valued. Whether you want to offer a toast to exceptional team members or add a fun twist with yearly superlatives to call attention to your employees that bring the “Best Energy,” “Worst Jokes,” or “Best Creative Solutions.” Your employees will feel seen, which can be challenging in virtual roles. Celebrate your employees by calling out the things that make them great. Include inside jokes and memorable moments.

5. Games and Competitions

Every competition thrives when there are exceptional prizes involved. Ramp up the competitive spirit by offering desirable incentives; before you know it, everyone will want to participate in the fun. It’s a great way to break the ice, make everyone more comfortable on camera, and encourage a festive tone to your party.

  • Trivia: Everyone loves trivia. Consider making it holiday-themed or relevant to your industry.
  • Decorating Competition: Have employees decorate their video-chat background for the party. People will embrace the spirit of the season and make your video chat festive and bright.
  • Bingo: Send out Bingo cards via e-mail before the party starts. Bingo requires very little from the participants but is always fun.

6. Gifts

With the cost savings from throwing a virtual party, consider treating your team to a thoughtful, luxury gift this year. Holiday gifts are a surefire way to communicate to your employees that they are valued team members. Your employees will remember it through the next year and appreciate the thoughtful gesture.

7. Give Back

Take the opportunity to tap into the generous spirit of your team. Find a cause everyone is excited to get behind and highlight your company's commitment to giving back. Consider providing volunteer possibilities, giving opportunities, or even offering a company match on donations. You will not only show your employees that what you do has farther-reaching implications than meeting deadlines and earning profits. Your employees and the community at large will take note.

Just because you use a freelance website doesn’t mean your team has to miss out on a holiday party. Yes, a virtual party is going to be different. But if done intentionally, you can still achieve all of the benefits and convey to your employees how much you appreciate them this year. Your employees will be able to look back and remember the effort you took to make them feel like valued members of your team, and it will become a tradition that everyone looks forward to in the coming years.