Top Five Office Holiday Party Event Ideas During the 2020 Pandemic

Amid a global pandemic that has left planet earth virtually event-less, 2020 has been a year unlike no other. In many cases, it’s been months since company staff have seen each other in-person, inside or outside of the office. The pandemic has made team building difficult to say the least. This holiday season offers a chance to reconnect your team and offer a memorable in-person or virtual holiday party.

In-person Holiday Party Event Ideas

In 2020, few companies will be planning the office-wide holiday parties of yesteryear that often brought thousands of employees and their significant others together in an enclosed area. Depending on your office’s country and region, such a gathering is likely not only unsafe, but may be against local laws and COVID-19 guidelines. Instead, there’s an opportunity to bring teams together in smaller groups while respecting social distancing guidelines.

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1. The “Pod Party”

Schools across the country are organizing students into “pods” — smaller groups of students that exclusively learn and play with each other, without coming into contact with students in different pods. 

Chances are your staff are already broken down into internal teams or pods. Organize a holiday party dinner broken down by pod, and rotate pods over multiple nights at the same restaurant or group of restaurants. Many restaurants are offering outdoor dining igloos to keep warm, offer better air circulation, and comply with local Coronavirus guidelines.

As some staff members may not be comfortable venturing out in-person, make it clear that attendance at the holiday party in-person event is optional, and offer a way for staff to join in the festivities virtually. For employees choosing to attend virtually, offer to order dinner in for them or provide an easy means for reimbursement for takeout of their choice.

PHOTO: Jason Wessel, The Wall Street Journal

2. Outdoor Winter Wonderland 

Event venues around the world are re-inventing themselves, creating outdoor or semi-outdoor, social distancing-friendly event spaces that offer a unique configuration that can support small to medium-size holiday parties safely.

Work with your preferred venue to setup a winter wonderland themed setting with small standing tables appropriately spaced amid decor, small group or individual activities, and pre-made beverages and meals individually packaged that guests can pick up upon a time-spaced arrival.

Keep employees entertained with live music, videos and movies, motivational speakers and small team activities such as ice sculpting, DIY holiday gift sets, scavenger hunts, s’more making and more.

Your company could even partner with an outdoor movie theater or setup an outdoor projector as part of the wonderland festivities.

3. Family-friendly Outdoor Adventures

Rent out a farm, garden, or any large swath of outdoor space and invite your staff and their families to join in festivities at evenly timed and capacity limited sessions over the course of the weekend.

Offer stations with various family friendly activities. Create a scavenger hunt that keeps families on the move and distanced. Offer a make your own scarecrow station. Erect a small ice skating rink (or find a property that has one!). Bring in a mobile petting zoo. Offer staff a station to decorate their own ornaments. Put together bikes for charity in a large, well-ventilated garage or warehouse.

Photo: Seed Floral

Virtual Office Holiday Party Events

This year, an in-person event may simply not be feasible or advisable for your company. In lieu of an in-person gathering, there are still many opportunities to bring staff together virtually for a fun and memorable experience.

4. Virtual Wine Tasting Event or DIY Cocktails

Send each member of your team a wine tasting kit or cocktail kit, and arrange for a sommelier (or anyone who considers themselves a beverage enthusiast) to lead the festivities.

Space out the evening with at-home appetizers, dinner, and dessert segments. Parter with a local restaurant to deliver a multi-course meal to your staff right at home.

5. In-Home Charity Event + Holiday Dinner

Start the night off by encouraging staff to order dinner from their favorite local restaurant on their company credit card. Partner with a local charity, school or religious organization and ask your staff to also order dinner delivery for a local family in deed.

Arrange to ship a gift that requires assembly to each of your staff’s families. While they wait for dinner to arrive, encourage families to join together virtually while they put together a bike, a wheelchair, tricycle or furniture.

Cap the night off by reflecting on the accomplishments of 2020 (despite the likely series of challenges) and look toward the year ahead and bluer skies.

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