How to Plan a Holiday Party in COVID Times

Like everything else in 2020, holiday parties are likely to look very different this year. But, just because we might not be able to gather in person, that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate together. In fact, this year may be more important than ever, as morale may be down and employees might be feeling disconnected. With that in mind, here are a few ideas:

Virtual games or gatherings. Many companies are hosting virtual games for large or small groups. Employers can send decorations or props to employees to enhance their experience. Consider providing snacks or beverages as well. Some options are virtual versions of:

    • Murder mystery
    • Escape rooms
    • Trivia contests
    • Scavenger hunts
    • Game shows
    • Karaoke
    • Gingerbread house building contest. Be sure to buy the supplies for your employees and have them delivered so everyone can participate.
    • Virtual Secret Santa. This seems complicated but can be done. There are some apps out there to facilitate it for you. A few examples are Elfster, DrawNames, and Giftster. If you don’t want to pay for an app, there are a few steps you can take to do it on your own:
        • The rules should be the same as in-person exchanges: participation is optional, and there is a cap on the amount a participant can spend.
        • Pick a date.
        • Match gifts and givers using a spreadsheet.
        • Ship the gifts. Your employees will need to mail the gifts before the exchange date. You could let them use your USPS account, reimburse costs, or find other options. Instruct the gifters to use the office address for the return label, so the gifter stays secret.
        • On the event date, exchange gifts on a virtual platform, and guess the giver after opening the present.
        • Record and take screenshots for memories.

If yet another virtual gathering sounds excruciating, consider some of these:

    • Sponsoring each employee to volunteer or match contributions for charitable causes.
    • If you have a central office space, consider a socially distanced cookie or popcorn exchange, where employees can leave their goodies in a place for other employees to pick up.
    • Use your budget to send gift boxes.

If you would like to do an in-person party, first know your state, county, and city restrictions. Be sure you are adhering to all crowd size, mask-wearing, and social distancing requirements. Then, consider the following:

    • Something open-air – even in the wintertime. Allow for heaters or fire pits and plenty of distancing.
    • If you are serving food, consider individual servings, not a buffet or carving line.
    • Similarly, if you are serving drinks, consider wait staff instead of a bar.
    • Make hand sanitizer part of your gift basket.

Not sure what state, county, and city restrictions to keep in mind as you plan? Contact an HR and employment law expert at Employers Council today.

In the end, it’s about celebrating and recognizing your employees. This is a year like no other, and your employees have worked through a pandemic for you. For holiday parties, employee recognition, and general get-togethers, employers will need to get a little creative. Still, if you can think through how technology can help you come close to replicating what you would typically do, it shouldn’t be too hard.