'Tis the holiday season!
And after the rather “eventful” year, it is time to end it with a BANG!
But if you are thinking of giving this year’s celebrations a pass, think again...
Just because your team is working remotely and there are restrictions on social gatherings, doesn’t mean your company’s favorite holiday traditions have to be wiped out of the annual agenda.
Be mindful that now, more than ever, your team needs their morale boosted. So, use this holiday season as an opportunity to express gratitude for their contribution and to celebrate togetherness.
That being said, don’t limit your celebration to a simple Zoom or Skype call, rather make it extravagant and show your employees that come rain or Coronavirus, you will always stand by them and for them.
And that’s where a virtual event platform will come as your savior.
So if you are planning to celebrate Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s with your team, consider these 10 ideas to host the most fantastic virtual holiday party of the season:
1. Pick the Digital Location
Instead of worrying about finding and booking a physical venue, choose a good virtual event platform.
Keep in mind that not everyone on your team will be tech-savvy, so pick a platform that provides a seamless experience to users. Something that has an interface as user-friendly as Facebook.
Also consult with your technology provider regarding the attendee bandwidth (the best players in the market usually don’t have limitations on these numbers) and the features that you want to incorporate in your event, for e.g. event feed, session-streaming/agenda page, virtual booths, breakout rooms, chatting and polling.
2. Narrow Down on an Event Theme
Set up a virtual theme for the party and customize each aspect of the event accordingly, to set the holiday mood right!
Speak to your event-tech provider regarding the platform skins that they can offer and give your event a complete holiday makeover.
Similarly add customized green screens to each of the sessions with elements to highlight the holiday you are celebrating for e.g. snowflakes, Christmas-themed colors and candy canes. This will definitely add to that holiday vibe and build excitement in the employees.
3. Build Your Virtual Party Agenda
Just like with any party, you need to really plan each session and activity thoughtfully, so things don’t go haywire, nor do attendees experience virtual fatigue.
Keep each session short and the overall agenda length minimized. You don’t want to have an office party that feels like a boring conference.
Include items like:
i) Introductory session by the host
ii) Quick platform walk-through
iii) Message from the CEO or Team Lead
iv) Concurrent sessions and workshops running on multiple tracks
v) Virtual Awards Night featuring a video with the year's highlights
vi) Closing remarks with a toast to the holiday season
4. Select the Dress Code
Send out an online poll prior to the event and narrow down on the costume for the party, in line with the event theme. Encourage everyone to dress for the occasion or hold a “who wore the ugliest sweater” competition to add some laughter.
You could even mail your team members some fun props and accessories that they can don at the event, like Santa hats, colored wigs or funky party goggles.
5. Think About Food and Drinks
Switch from planning on-site catering to pre-scheduling food delivery using services like Uber Eats and Grubhub. You could also allot a budget to each individual or give them a dinner gift card so they can order their own meals and eat them with their friends and family.
Similarly, you can send them a bottle of wine or DIY mocktail and cocktail kits, to cover the party’s drinks aspect.
6. Send Out the Invitations
Build excitement with festive invitations that your HR can send out digitally to everyone in your team. In the invite, include a holiday message along with the link to the online community, the event timing, date, agenda and other relevant details such as the dress code and activities your team can expect at the event.
Consider going an extra mile by also sending out a pre-event hamper consisting of props/accessories for the event, branded items (for e.g. a branded mug everyone can use to raise a toast), box of cookies and chocolates, cocoa mix, candy cane and the like. Your team members will absolutely love this special treatment.
7. Host Interactive Virtual Sessions and Workshops
Give your employees something to remember by giving them a chance to learn a new skill in a fun and festive way.
For this you can either add a session on the agenda page or host each workshop in a separate breakout room.
i) Mixology Session
Feature a mixology session in your agenda. Invite an expert to share insider tips for creating signature cocktails and mocktails. Often experts who offer such services also take charge of sending out the mixology kits along with savory nibbles to the attendees, so you have one less aspect to worry about.
ii) Cooking / Baking Session
Similar to the mixology session, you could give your employees the chance to take a live session with top chefs and culinary experts, to learn a new recipe for the holiday season. An experience they can take away to prepare something for their family and friends.
iii) Holiday Crafts Workshop
You can add a session wherein an expert teaches the employees how to make a certain holiday craft. For e.g. creating some decorative items for their Christmas tree, ornament painting or making holiday-themed origami. These will act like good keepsakes for everyone.
Another option is to add a session wherein employees are taught how to knit a scarf for the cold season. The final products can then be sent out to a charity that the company supports, in line with the organization’s values.
iv) Tarot Card Reading
Another way to engage your team is by inviting a tarot card reader, who they can meet 1:1 or in small groups via the networking lounge.
v) Other Sessions
You can host various other interactive sessions, such as a virtual interactive magic show, virtual juggling, a comedy or roasting session.
To add to the fun factor, include a short raffle draw session, wherein the host can use a random online name generator to pick the top three winners of the raffle draw, live.
8. Organize Fun Team-Building Activities
To get the excitement level up, host a range of sessions and activities and take advantage of your virtual platform’s agenda page, breakout rooms, networking lounges, virtual booths and gamification features to do so.
Some of the things you can do include:
i) Virtual Secret Santa
Secret Santa is always the highlight of office holiday party celebrations. Gift-giving is one of the best ways to keep the holiday spirit alive. So just because you can’t meet in-person, don’t cancel it out.
Use a random name generator and give everyone the name of the person they will be the Secret Santa for. Inform them well in advance, so they have enough time to send out their presents.
Then use the virtual event platform’s networking lounge to divide your teams into smaller groups, to give everyone a chance to open their presents live and make an attempt at guessing who their Secret Santa is.
You could also add a twist by hosting a ‘white elephant gift exchange’ instead, wherein employees exchange amusing and impractical gifts, fill the virtual room with laughter.
ii) Holiday Karaoke / Caroling
Add a caroling session in your agenda so that everyone can send in song requests via the event feed or chat and sing along to the tunes streamed. For this, you could even consider hiring talented holiday carolers.
Similarly, you could even divide everyone into groups and host a karaoke session in a dedicated breakout room (giving everyone a chance to feature on the screen).
iii) Holiday Trivia
Use the contests feature to set up a holiday quiz. Ask holiday-related questions such as questions related to a famous Christmas movie or book or how traditions are celebrated across the globe.
Another way is to use the breakout rooms feature, wherein the hand-raise option can function like a virtual buzzer, i.e. the 1st one to raise their hands and give the correct answer wins.
Alternatively, you can use this functionality to host virtual charades, wherein someone acts out a scene from a popular holiday film and others can guess and send in their replies through hand raising or chat.
iv) Friendly Competitions
You can also include different types of competitions in your party, using the virtual event platform’s gamification feature.
A great way is to set up entry-based competitions, wherein everyone gets a limited time to create their entries and then submit it on the platform.
Post this the winner can be announced, on the basis of the highest votes received. And you can offer them e-gift cards and other prizes.
Some examples include:
9. Have a Holiday Movies Marathon
Dedicate one of the multiple session tracks simply to streaming an array of holiday movies, from rom-coms like “The Holiday” to classics like “Home Alone” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”.
Provide your employees a Netflix Party-like experience, as they can use the virtual event platform’s group chat functionality to react and chat with each other in real-time, right from the comfort of their homes.
This line up can be pre-decided through a poll populated before the event.
10. Make Use of Activity Booths
If you want to showcase all the workshops and activities in an organized fashion, a creative way to do this is by repurposing the virtual exhibitor booths into activity booths.
Each booth can have information and guidelines on the activity, along with a CTA button that will link the user to a page within the platform or to an external site where the particular activity is being hosted.
For internal linking, you can embed the link of the particular session or breakout room.
On the other hand, for external linking you can include the website link to a virtual game show hosted on an external provider, a virtual photo booth or mosaic provider, or even a virtual caricature maker.
To Sum Up...
Remember, a lot of the party experience your employees have depends on thorough planning and also the virtual event platform you choose to host your event on.
Make sure you come up with creative ways to leverage each functionality of the virtual event platform and help your employees make new memories in a completely new way.
This season, don’t let the Coronavirus Grinch steal your holidays by creating the best edition of an office party you have ever hosted.
And if you are looking for a virtual event platform partner, drop us an e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wishing you Happy Holidays!