Holiday Shindig Planning in 2020

Sep 24, 2020

Now that we have officially entered Autumn, we get to enjoy cooler weather, the beautiful changing leaves, pumpkin everything and cozying up under a blanket. In a few weeks, we will start seeing holiday merchandise show up in stores and commercials on our TVs; this is our cue to start thinking about office holiday planning.  


2020 has provided a number of opportunities to be creative in creating social experiences and connections, and holiday party planning is no exception. As an employer, you have one very important choice to make to get the holiday party planning process started: Do you plan a virtual or in-person holiday party? Each option poses several considerations to weigh in when planning.  No matter which way you choose to host your holiday party, be prepared to adjust and adapt.  As we have all learned this year, anything can change at any moment.  A few ideas for in-person holiday party ideas are:


In-Person Holiday Party:

If you intend to plan an in-person holiday party, you need to make sure that you are providing a safe environment. Some factors for consideration are:

1) Location- Can you provide a location that will meet your local capacity and social distancing requirements?  

2) Masks- Ensure that you are mindful of mask requirements of your local area.

In-Person Ideas- 

  • Dinner or lunch at a local restaurant. If your team is larger than 10 people, we recommend that teams/ or departments celebrate together, rather than the whole business.  
  • Catered meal at the office. Have a local restaurant cater a meal in your office along with a fun (and safe) activity.  
  • Team building activity. There are a number of activities that you can coordinate that encourage connections while staying physically distant. Here are a few of our favorites:
    • Office mini-golf course- break up your staff into teams of 2-5 people, using common office supplies, have them make a mini-golf hole. After each team completes their mini-golf hole, have everyone play a round of office mini-gold.
    • Scavenger Hunt- Create a scavenger hunt that relates to your business and have small teams mask up and go on the hunt.  


Virtual Holiday Parties

Just because your team is working virtually, it doesn't mean that celebrations and festivities need to be put out to pasture. There are many things that you can do to bring your team together and celebrate and connect. If you choose to connect through video conferencing, keep in mind that large virtual gatherings can become disorganized and confusing quickly. Using breakout rooms/ sessions will help ensure that everyone gets to interact and participate.  

  • Paint and Sip Parties- Send each team members a small painting canvas and a few paints/ paintbrushes. Hop on a zoom call and guide them through a "Bob Ross" painting experience while sipping on their favorite beverage.  
  • Minute to Win It Games- Choose a few of your favorite Minute to Win It games, send the supplies to each employee, hop on zoom and have a blast.
  • Gingerbread House Decorating- Send a gingerbread kit to your team members, hop on a Zoom call, decorate your gingerbread house while sharing your favorite holiday stories. You could even turn this into a competition and surprise the best gingerbread house with a prize.


Other Ideas

We know that 2020 has been heavy for all of you and the idea of planning some sort of event may be the last thing that you or your team want to do. But that is no excuse not to find a way to let your staff know that they are appreciated (especially this year). Here are some ideas to celebrate your team without an event.  

  • Gifts- Send each team member a nice branded gift with a handwritten note. We love items that employees will actually use. Here are a few items we have had success with: fleece/ hoodies, blankets, or a branded Yeti.
  • Gift Cards to Local Restaurants or Stores- We are all for supporting local small businesses (not just now, always). Identify a few local small businesses that you would like to showcase to your employees this holiday season and send gift cards to these places. Bonus points- personalize the gift cards to each employee's interests.
  • Extra PTO- We could all use a break this year. Give your employees an extra day (or more) of paid time off to relax and unwind with their families.  


Our personal favorite activity to celebrate with employees- Burn or shred 2020 calendars! Let's send 2020 off right. :)


When looking at all of the options above, the common theme is to keep it small no matter if you are meeting up in person or virtually. As we all know this is not the year for large gatherings. We really hope that next year, we can recommend cramming 1,000 people into a room and having one hell of a party. Until then, keep it small and creative while staying healthy!


Disclaimer: HR Branches provides general information about Human Resources. Please note that the information provided, while reliable, is not legal advice. Please seek legal assistance, or assistance from State, Federal, or International governmental resources, to make sure your legal interpretation and decisions are correct for your location and circumstances. The purpose of this information is for guidance, ideas, and assistance on general HR matters.

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