Virtual Christmas Parties: The top tips for office festivities this year
With new guidelines enforcing a ‘rule of six’, 10pm curfews and continued working from home for up to six months, it seems highly unlikely the office Christmas party (as we know it) will be happening this year. But - fear not - COVID hasn’t cancelled Christmas entirely! Instead, employers will have to get creative and think of alternative ways to celebrate. So wave goodbye to seeing your boss hit the dance floor, and say hello to the not so new virtual party!
“Many teams have been working from home now for over half a year and will be missing social interactions with colleagues and friends. Whilst ‘normal’ festive celebrations won’t be taking place, a virtual Christmas party is still a great opportunity to engage and reward teams for their hard work, but simply sending a bottle of wine and getting on a video chat really isn’t going to cut it. With a little creativity, there’s loads of opportunities to engage colleagues in something fun and festive.” said Tom Squire from City Pantry.
In March, City Pantry launched ‘Pantry Packages’, a delivery service that allows businesses to send their employees food packages, hampers and recipe kits wherever they are. They are now using the platform to help businesses across the UK plan and execute their virtual Christmas parties, and based on the trends they’ve seen so far, here are their top tips for a successful, socially distanced bash:
- TIP 1: Get on your feet: After a full day’s work at your laptop, no one wants to just sit through another video call. So, when planning your virtual event it’s important to consider how you can get people doing something that's a little more engaging. At City Pantry we have seen a surge in the number of orders for cooking kits, from Christmas cupcake decorating packs, mulled wine kits and festive hot chocolate. You could even throw yourself a gingerbread house making competition, there are really no limits! DIY kits like this will allow employees to get away from their desks, create something themselves and then show off their work.
- TIP 2: Set a theme: Every good party has a theme, and Christmas is no exception! Landing on a creative theme will help structure the flow of your event, and will help to give you inspiration for activities, food/drink, playlist and even a dress code. You don’t have to limit your ideas to solely festive ones either. Some of the best ideas we’ve seen so far have been Candyland, The 12 days of Cheese-mas and Christmas around the world.
- TIP 3: Do something you haven’t done before: No one wants to do a quiz anymore - that's so last season. Instead there are lots of different ways to have fun at Christmas, so incorporate some festive cheer by trying something totally new. What about a virtual wine tasting session or even ‘carol karaoke’? If you can, try splitting off into smaller teams, this will help people have more intimate conversations and network. As it can be difficult to have a proper chat when there's too many of you on Zoom.
- TIP 4: Short and sweet: Try to give your virtual festivities a time cap. You want to try and keep your employees as engaged as possible, but this won’t happen on a long call, and video calls are more draining than normal ones - everyone who’s worked from home has suffered from some sort of zoom burnout. So, when you send out event invitations, set a clear start and endpoint.
- TIP 5: Secret Santa: One of the great things about Christmas is that it brings everyone together, and nothing helps this more than by gifting. This traditional festive fun is something everyone can enjoy, regardless of whether you’re in the office or not. Get your employees to send their gifts in the post and save them to open on camera. Not only will this help people connect with colleagues they don’t usually work with, but let's be honest, everyone loves to receive a gift.
- TIP 6: Make it personal: If sending out packages to employees, make sure they’re personalised. It's the best way to show your employees how much you appreciate their hard work and dedication - especially when this year has been so challenging. From personalised Christmas cards and branded decorations like Christmas crackers, there are loads of ways to bring the Christmas spirit to your virtual event.
City Pantry is the UK’s leading office food delivery marketplace, and when offices closed, it launched Pantry Packages - enabling companies to send gifts, lunches and drinks straight to their employee’s homes across the UK.