Take Virtual Team Holiday Parties to the Next Level

Nov 6, 2021

by Deanna Parkton

Whether you are working remotely or in-person, a holiday party is a valuable way to provide space and time for employees to step away from the daily grind and bond. It is also an opportunity for colleagues to get to know each other outside of their professional roles. Holiday parties are a time to celebrate with a focus on fun! And done right, it is also a great way to boost morale and get those positive vibes flowing.

Reminiscing about company holiday parties of yore, memories of chatting with colleagues, good food and drinks and maybe even dancing might come to mind. With many companies still working remotely, eating or drinking alone at your desk on Zoom just does not feel the same. Whether you plan to meet in-person or remotely, here are some ways to take your party up a notch with something different from years past. 

Here are our tried and true rules for a fun holiday get-together!


1. Plan it during work hours or towards the end of the work day. 

For most people, life is quite busy! Taking time away from time otherwise spent with family or friends for a work event can sometimes feel more of a burden than a celebration. If meeting up virtually, the idea of spending another hour at the computer screen during after work hours can bring more dread than excitement. 


2. Have an agenda but also be flexible 

Include structure to the event with activities and ways to encourage people to break out of their comfort zones. If the agenda is too loose, it can be difficult for colleagues to get comfortable like they would in a typical in-person environment. By adding some structure to encourage colleagues to chat and engage with one another, it can break the ice for valuable conversations and bonding. We are big fans of icebreakers. They are a great way to get the conversation flowing! 


3. Recognition and Awards

Individual or team successes: Celebrate the great work that the team  did over the last year. Share metrics or achieved goals, either at a team level, and/ or celebrate individual team member’s achievements. The pride flowing around the (virtual) room will remind everyone why they do what they do – a true celebration of a team’s purpose! 

Fun superlatives: Create an online poll for team members to vote on superlatives for team members. Ideas include “Most likely to Have Netflix or Hulu Recommendations” or “Most Likely to Start Talking While on Mute”). This is guaranteed to bring the laughs and create some bonding and joy over the individual personalities that make up your awesome team. 


4. Games and Activities

Let loose and enjoy time as a team! Online tools such as Confetti have games like trivia or Bingo,  and even a virtual escape room that can take place over Zoom. Many of the events include a host to coordinate the event, which allows all team members to participate and takes the pressure off coordinating or hosting. 

If you are looking for activities to create bonding with a splash of professional or personal development, check out ideas from Retreatify

For powerful (and awe-inspiring) online experiences, check out Airbnb’s online experiences that range from virtual cooking classes to live walking tours in places like Venice, Italy or a leopard safari in Sri Lanka! 


5. Swag and Gifts 

When hosting an in-person event, most of the budget goes towards food and drinks, probably with wasted leftovers and expensive catering! If virtual, treating the team to a meal can look a bit different. You can send an Uber Eats voucher to be used within a specific timeframe for everyone to order lunch from the comfort of their own screens. If candy is the way to your team’s heart, send sweet treats through Sugarwish where team members get to choose their favorite treat! 

If you would like to send employees a gift box, SnackNation has great ideas on different ways to wow and surprise your team. The best part is that these sites take care of the work for you, you pick out the gift box of your choice, and they will send it off to your employees for you! 


Working remotely doesn’t have to mean the end of the holiday party, it might just look a bit different from years prior. If your team will be gathering IRL (“in real life”), you can still use some of these ideas to add some new life to your gathering with games, activities, awards and swag. Not only does this show your employees that you care, but it creates more opportunities for bonding. A win-win! 


For more ideas on taking your leadership game to the next level, consider working with a career coach. A coach can help you identify strategies to face challenges head on. Check out our executive coaching services and sign up for a free consultation here.

Deanna Parkton is a writer, career coach and educator with a passion for professional development and work wellness and happiness. With a focus on self-reflection, she works with individuals in their quest to reach their career goals as well as satisfaction in work-life balance. You can find more of her writing at workinglivingwell.com and she can be reached at workinglivingwell@gmail.com.