Temperatures are falling to a crispy chill, leaves are swirling through whistling winds, and a scent like bonfire is a mainstay in the air — this can mean only one thing. The most wonderful time of the year is finally upon us — holiday season. No matter the occasion, this season has always meant togetherness and giving, thankfulness and cherishing, the kind of harmony that not even COVID can throw a wrench into.

That it’s not viable for many of us to gather in the same room does not mean we can’t still celebrate our office holiday parties and traditions this year. We want you and your people to come together — virtually or in a physically distanced capacity — and commemorate the strength it took to get through the past few, difficult months, and hope for a flourishing new year. Whether it be for Thanksgiving or Halloween, gather through virtual holiday parties to relax and celebrate each other. We know it’s been a tough year, and this is exactly why we know your teams deserve a jolly and fun end to 2020. 

We believe that it’s by coming together that teams everywhere can succeed and grow, no matter the circumstances. In this spirit, we put together a list of ways you can reward your employees this festive season, all while remaining safe and distanced and budget-friendly. Here’s how you can throw a virtual holiday party, all on a budget.

Celebrate your differences

Your team is diverse, and what better way to acknowledge and rejoice in this diversity this season than to learn about the different holidays that might be important to your team members, especially in this remote, WFH world. Through a virtual holiday happy hour, or a few on separate days for each designated holiday, have your team members take the helm and share a bit about the holiday unique to their culture, sharing if they want its history and what celebrating the holiday in their family looks like. They can even bring in their family and kids to teach and partake of the festivities. Everyone on your team will feel special as they share the traditions or holiday customs they look forward to every year, whether for Diwali, Kwanzaa, Christmas (and more). Team members can bond through sharing and communicating about what makes them happy in a free and casual environment, all virtually. 

This is a great way to learn about your team members and about what joy looks like for so many different cultures. These diverse virtual holiday parties will help to make everyone feel appreciated, respected, and included.

Virtual Thanksgiving Feast

Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude and what better way to show this in the workplace than by preparing and sharing a meal together, virtually of course. Together with your employees, you can crowdsource and craft a menu that everyone will love, with a list of recipes. You can send your employees the ingredients to their door or have them pop out for a quick shop. Everyone can come together over a Zoom call as they prepare their meal, ask each other for cooking tips or help if they get stuck on a step in a recipe. Employees can include their families in the cooking process, and everyone can bond as they create a delicious meal, which they can share virtually. A wonderful way to spend Thanksgiving with your work family, a virtual feast will fill everyone’s hearts with thankfulness and their stomachs with scrumptious food.  

Virtual Pumpkin Carving

The only thing more fun than pumpkin carving is pumpkin carving with a bunch of people. An excellent way to get into the spooky mood for Halloween, have your team come together over on Zoom, share a warm cup of hot chocolate, and carve funny or spine-chilling faces into pumpkins. You can send employees a pumpkin and a hot chocolate mix, have them create their own design, and maybe even share the mythological history of why we carve pumpkins as everyone carves. Sprinkle a little spice into this event by adding some competition to the fun. Hold a contest to see who can carve the best design! 

Costume Contest

Every Halloween, the best costumes are always those that people have designed themselves. Don’t believe us? Test this theory out for yourself by challenging your team to think of a creative costume idea — all puns welcome! — and hold a virtual competition to see all their unique creations. A costume contest is always a great way to end a virtual Halloween party or a pre-Halloween virtual happy hour. Come together over Zoom or Google Meet, craft a unique and crowdsourced spooky playlist on Spotify, and have a great time.  

Gingerbread House Making

Probably the most delicious craft, making a Gingerbread house is something we look forward to every year. There’s just something about sneaking icing and gumdrops all while embarking on this intense architectural endeavour. You can send your team members all the materials they will need for this activity, and then have them virtually come together to share memories of Christmas past as they build a home fit for a gingerbread person. You can also turn this into a sweet competition to see who can build the most glamorous, not to mention architecturally-sound, cookie house!

If cookie decorating is what your team would prefer, then Thriver’s Virtual Experiences platform has the perfect experience for you. Members can participate in a virtual class led by Food Network’s Chopped Champion, pastry chef Melanie Moss, all while getting creative, bonding, and, most importantly, munching on decadent sweets!  

Secret Santa

The office-wide Secret Santa is everyone’s favourite, and you and your employees can still celebrate this year! Set a maximum spending limit so that things remain equal, and randomly assign everyone a person to gift. You can have members select a present to send to their colleagues through Amazon or any other online store. Finally, on the special day before the winter break, hold a virtual unboxing (perhaps PJ-themed?). Your team members can sip on their favourite warm holiday drink and watch joyful smiles spread across their teammates’ faces as they open their gifts — is there a better feeling than this?     

Holiday Movie Night

Many families have a tradition where they watch the same few movies every Christmas Eve — there’s just something about them that brings people together as they share memories, talk about favourite scenes, and delight in the snowy festive feel. Movies are such a great way to bond, especially this time of year, when everyone has a special movie that means “Holiday” for them — whether it’s Die Hard or The Omen.

Have your team members compile a list of movies they love for the holiday season, collectively select one or a couple (if you’re in the mood for a marathon), and designate a day in your Google Calendar as Holiday Movie Night. After renting the movie online or finding it on a streaming platform, if it’s available for all remote teams, have everyone join the same Zoom call and press play simultaneously. Alternatively, Thriver’s Virtual Experiences offers a virtual movie night experience for all your remote teams — it’s like a drive-in movie, except in the warmth of everyone’s home with easy access to eggnog.

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Celebration is perhaps more important now than it ever has been, but don’t forget that it’s also important to work with your teams to determine the occasions that matter most to them. Once you’ve done that, you and your employees can get to the fun stuff, because — no matter your company’s budget, you and your colleagues have something worth celebrating this holiday season. For more holiday-planning inspiration and fun opportunities for your teams, check out our Holiday Virtual Experiences page.