It’s the holiday season! We are so excited to start celebrating the end of a successful year with our amazing team, and it’s been fun to navigate the challenges of planning a remote holiday party for our remote-first office! It’s easy to get caught up in Christmas. It’s a special time in our lives and a very important holiday for many of us – but it’s certainly not the only reason for the season. Remember that our teams are diverse and full of employees whose backgrounds and customs are very different from one another. They might celebrate holidays like Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or Diwali. Alternatively, they may not celebrate any cultural or religious celebration during the holiday season. While this adds a layer of challenges when planning a remote holiday party, it certainly shouldn’t stop us from having one.
In this blog, we give our top tips to planning a remote holiday party, and even give you some of our own ideas to make the most of the event!
Top 5 Tips for Planning a Remote Holiday Party
Hype Up the Event
You want employees to be excited about the event – and that starts with you! The event planners should go out of their way to express to team members how excited they are for the remote event to take place. Build up hype by regularly promoting the event on your employee communication channels in the weeks leading up to the event. Make sure that upper management is on-board and in attendance so that employees see how important getting the team together is to the company. It needs to be an “all hands on deck” event in order for it to be successful.
Planning a remote event for your employees comes with its fair share of logistical challenges, but nearly all of them can be overcome with proper planning and time management. Recognize that team members might all be living in different time zones. You need to do your research and choose a time that works for everybody so that employees can not only attend but enjoy themselves. This event should be fun and it shouldn’t feel like work. Look over everybody’s calendars and make sure that nobody is left out. Give employees enough notice so that they can clear their calendar of any meetings or work.
The last thing you want to do is make anybody feel uncomfortable or excluded at a remote holiday party. Christmas is widely celebrated across the world, but it’s certainly not celebrated everywhere. By calling it an “Office Holiday Party” or an “End-of-the-Year Party” instead of an “Office Christmas Party”, you’re already doing a great job making it feel more inclusive. Of course, what you’re calling the event will only do so much. There is no point in doing what you can to promote the event in an inclusive manner if you are only going to host Christmas-themed games and activities. Be sure that you offer attendees a plethora of activities that will help everybody to feel included and seen.
Do Your Research
Remember that it’s not the responsibility of your team members to make your event inclusive to all. It’s the responsibility of the event-planners to make guests feel welcome and included. Diversity, equity and inclusion is never the responsibility of underrepresented groups of employees. While you can learn great things from these employees, it’s not their job to educate anybody. Be sure to ask questions and find out what holidays your team members celebrate.
It’s also important to research any holiday to make sure you are not planning any activities that might offend employees. For example, planning a “Cinco de Mayo” party in May with stereotypical sombreros and fake mustaches might be really offensive to Mexican employees that you might have on your team. The goal is never to make stereotypes about a culture or make people feel uncomfortable or insecure about their identities. The goal should always be to celebrate a culture without appropriating it or making people feel uncomfortable.
Have an End Goal
Whichever way you decide to plan your remote holiday party, be sure that there is meaning behind it. Your event should have some sort of “end goal”. Is it to simply bring employees together? Maybe it’s to make sure everybody feels included? Is it to create an event that people enjoyed participating in? Is it to practice team building?
Make sure that you understand the purpose of the event, and even set up a number of KPIs to measure success. You can keep track of how many people attended, how long the event lasted, or how many people left early. You can also do a pulse check after the event for feedback on what employees enjoyed and what they would have done differently if they had been planning the event. Any feedback you get post-event should be carefully listened to and taken into consideration so that your next event is even better!
Holiday Activity Ideas for Your Remote Party
Recipe Exchange Party
Nothing is more cross-cultural than food is. Food brings friends and family together in every culture across the world. We can’t think of a better way to bring employees together! While it’s a shame that you aren’t able to have an in-office “potluck” to try everybody’s dishes, this can still be a fun activity to plan.
Invite employees to make one of their favorite holiday dishes. Employees will then show the dish they made to the rest of the team. Allow them to share why it’s a special dish to them, describe the flavors and aromas of the dish, and encourage them to share the recipe with the rest of the team. It’s a great virtual lunch break idea. You can even create a follow-up event that allows employees to make the new recipes they learned from their co-workers. Because it’s a virtual event, it allows for each dish to have its time in the spotlight rather than being put out on a table in the office without the story behind i. This allows employees to really learn something new about a culture that’s different from their own.
Holiday Gift Exchange
Also known as “Secret Santa”, this classic holiday event can still work virtually! The concept is simple: everybody randomly picks out the name of another employee to pick out a gift for. The event team will choose a date where everybody comes together to exchange gifts. A remote team can easily do this by sending their co-worker a gift in advance and setting a date to exchange gifts in real-time over a video call.
This idea does logistically pose some challenges, but with proper planning you’ll be able to pull it off successfully! If your remote team is international, you might need to keep shipping and handling of gifts in mind. One idea is to group your teammates by location and exchange gifts between “international offices” clusters. This offsets any international shipping costs. Also, make sure you have clear “rules” (price point limits, shipping expectations, etc.) that the entire team is onboard with. It’s an activity that is sure to put a smile on everyone’s faces!
Holiday D.I.Y. Activity
Whether it’s building something together on camera or doing an arts and crafts activity at the same time, keeping your virtual guests busy is key. These are great ways to boost creativity and give employees an opportunity to have a shared experience together. These types of activities do not have to be intricate or difficult to put together. In fact, the simpler the better for a remote holiday party! Make sure employees have any tools or items readily available to them. You can even give them a heads up about items they might need so they have them ready to go in advance. You can do this without giving the activity away! Our favorite idea? A piece of paper and a pair of scissors makes for an easy activity of creating your own snowflake. Nobody’s snowflake will be exactly the same!
From Our Remote Office to Yours…Happy Holidays!
We love celebrating the holidays at Bryq. As a remote-first office with team members living all around the world, we have had to navigate around the challenges of cultural differences and time zone differences. Despite this, we make it a point to plan virtual events that make it easy for every team member to attend. We encourage them to allow their loved ones and even their pets to join us too! Our team loves learning more about each other by sharing stories and creating an environment that allows employees to be their authentic selves. We hope that this blog helps your team to become closer to one another despite the physical distance separating them!
The Bryq Team wishes you a happy holiday season! We cannot wait to continue to work with you towards better talent management and a stronger global workforce next year!