A very COVID Christmas – deck the halls with masks and sanitiser

Christmas is going to be different this year, no doubt about it. People are struggling with the latest rules, prohibitions, permissions and advice, trying to decide on the point of equilibrium between the day they want and the day it is safe to have. It’s all tiers, bubbles, special Christmas bubbles… and then there’s the office do.

The work Christmas party is usually an opportunity for celebration at the end of the year – hard work done, time to relax together and reflect. Maybe blow off a little steam. Show some appreciation for the team. The challenges usually centre on issues like appropriate decorations, catering (veggie? vegan? Intolerances?), ensuring everyone can get involved if they wish, and what to do about all those pictures on social media afterwards.

However, this year, there’s the question of whether you should even have a party. And if you do, how can you have a good time while also respecting all those COVID-19 safety measures? A trawl of t’interweb throws up a few ideas…

Virtual drinks

You don’t all have to be in the same room. Why not have the whole team toast their success with a beverage or two via Zoom (or Skype, or Google Meet, whatever your favourite is)? You can send everyone a bottle of their preferred tipple, it’s safe, and nobody has to worry about how to get home afterwards. That said, as you know from your team meetings, the atmosphere isn’t quite the same via a screen. You may need to have a few gimmicks or games to engage everyone’s interest. How about a shared activity? Maybe wine tasting (get an expert to join you and lead)? Or a cocktail-mixing class? Of course, your activity doesn’t have to be drinks-related (and it might be better if it isn’t).

Virtual dinner

Plenty of teams choose to celebrate with a meal in a good restaurant. That’s not so possible in 2020 but why not share a meal together online? Set a budget, organise deliveries, set up the webcams…

Secret ‘distant’ Santa

Gift-giving is fun, especially it’s anonymous and geared towards deliberate silliness. You can’t sit on the knee of a socially-distant Santa, but you can easily allocate names randomly and ensure gifts are sent in advance. Then you sit back on your Zoom call (another activity during the team’s virtual drinks, perhaps) and watch each other’s reactions as the seasonal tat is unwrapped.

Online karaoke?

If you’re a karaoke fan, you probably already know that online karaoke is a real thing. If everyone is up for it – or enough people are up for it and the others can have fun watching – why not add a festive singalong to your office celebrations?

Fancy dress

If you and your team have spent much of the year in lockdown, working from home, then you’ve probably all had a lot fewer opportunities to dress up this year. You could all agree to wear something a bit fancy to your virtual works do, or you could go a step further, name a theme, offer a prize, and make up for not being able to dress up on Halloween.

If that’s a bit too far for your people, how about Christmas jumpers as a theme? Everyone wears their most outrageous/outlandish/hideous/tacky/lightbulb-studded knitwear. Then you just have fun voting on whose is worst (i.e. best). Special prizes for originality, comedy value or just sheer horror – why not?

Whatever you do (or don’t do) just remember that this is about the company showing its appreciation to the workers. The chances are, that appreciation is especially deserved after the year we’ve had.

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