How to celebrate Christmas with your team remotely

Christmas 2020 is set to be defined quite heavily by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many organisations are attempting to keep ‘business as usual’ for the festive period whilst being hit by some of the strongest restrictions we’ve ever had on our lives. So, it’s important to consider how we can bring in, at least, a little normality. Here are some ways you can bring your team together to celebrate Christmas virtually this year.

No one workplace is the same: some of you will have been office-based pre-coronavirus, whilst others will have been field or site-based. And when it comes to budget, we know that many organisations are feeling the pinch. In pulling together the following ideas, our HR and wellbeing teams have considered the different structures of your businesses, along with suggestions that can be scaled up or down.

Above all, the aim with any virtual celebration is to let your team know just how much you value their continued input, as you all continue to adapt to new guidance around working through the pandemic.

1. Event-based celebrations

Parties are commonplace for regular Christmas works celebrations, and there is no reason why this can’t still be the case. Zoom, Hangout or Teams bashes can be facilitated by a host, and there are several twists to be had on this idea:

  • With or without an aspiring DJ in your team, iTunes or Spotify and a decent enough computer allow you to define a disco soundtrack to the evening. People can use your video conferencing facility to request the next track from the designated “DJ;” or otherwise pool into a shared list and upvote or downvote songs.

  • If your party budget is still relatively intact, consider arranging delivery of takeaway to your team, defining a meal time and coming together to eat some great food, reflect on the year just gone and celebrate the wins that have come out of everyone’s efforts.

  • In recent years, Bingo has been re-glamorised by the likes of Bongo’s Bingo. Whilst getting together for some high-octane fun with numbers is out of the question right now, bingo lends itself well to a video conference-based Christmas celebration for the team. Whether you use the hostess with the mostess from within your team, or look up celebrities to compere your party, it’s an idea that is guaranteed to generate some buzz and a healthy dose of competition amongst teammates!

2. Activity-led celebrations

The idea of celebrating Christmas together doesn’t have to revolve around a sit-down event. Activities can be a great way to encourage your team to get outside, move more and step away from video conferencing, the latter of which has been shown to be burning us out.

  • Running an Advent hunt in and around your team’s local area is a great way to gamify getting outdoors. This works well if your employees are largely based in the same geographical area, but there is a way to unite more disparate teams: some desktop research will enable you to leave virtual clues based on each of your employee’s locality. You can ask your team to take a quick selfie or video when they reach the locations they decipher based on your clues. Do make sure your employees are split into small teams, following different routes or carrying out the activity in staggered time periods to help stop team members bumping into each other and accidently creating larger groups that break the tier rules for your local area.

  • Online escape rooms are a thing! Companies such as Trapped in the Web and Cluecrypted have evolved their offering to allow people in different locations to experience the teambuilding and the camaraderie that comes with a more traditional escape rooms experience.

  • Come together to pen a tongue-in-cheek festive song,focusing on the positives of the year gone by and the festive season ahead in order to lift spirits. . Besides being cathartic, this activity will give each of your team a moment to reflect on the people and things that have made their working life bearable for the majority of this year - which leads us nicely onto a key facet of celebrating Christmas with your staff...

3. Giving thanks and kudos

Now more than ever, saying “thank you” goes a long way. As part of your virtual Christmas celebrations, consider encouraging your team to praise one another for exceptional work they have done or for acts of kindness to one another.

  • Repurpose the traditional “Secret Santa” into something more meaningful, and ask your team to record a short “thank you” video to their nominated recipient. This will encourage thoughtful interactions between colleagues and potentially make every member of your team consider the value of being supportive of one another.

  • If you currently operate an employee recognition scheme, such as, consider unlocking additional points for you colleagues to “gift” to one another, again with a reason as to why their recipient deserves this extra kudos.

  • The idea of giving thanks returns very much to you as the employer. Budgets may be tight, so think of expressing “Merry Christmas” and “thank you” in thoughtful but inexpensive ways. Advent calendars or selection packs posted out to each of your employee’s home addresses is a really touching way to share a bit of Christmas with them.

4. Saving the date for later

Of course, putting a “save the date” in the diary for sometime next year is always an option - and the promise of a more physical celebration can be a huge motivator for the coming year. You could even turn the planning into a bit of a low-key Christmas affair right now:

  • Set up a game of charades via video conference for team members to act out what they would like to do on a no-holds barred, belated Christmas do. 

  • Ask your team to upvote and downvote a shortlist of ideas for a deferred Christmas social.

Or, tear up the rule book slightly and reward your team with an extra day off in the new year; giving them some “me time” in what would have typically been spent Christmas shopping for an afternoon and attending a works social in the evening.

It would seem that with the job security, financial and health concerns of 2020, employees are happy to veto a formal Christmas party this year: 9 in 10 would prefer a small monetary gift over lavish hospitality. With that in mind, it may be best on the employee engagement count to work on the most creative ways of saying thank you, such as Benenden Health’s Give the Gift of Christmas Healthcare, whilst harnessing video conferencing sensibly to bring the team together.

Find out how Benenden Healthcare for Business could support your employees:

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