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How organisations are virtually celebrating the festive season during Covid-19

Updated: Jan 31, 2021

I’m sure you’ve all heard the terms ‘party pooper’, that person who throws gloom over social enjoyment, and ‘killjoy’,, that person who deliberately spoils the enjoyment of others. Well not to point fingers, but . . . . the award for 2020 party pooper and killjoy goes to COVID-19!

For COVID-19 has single handedly made it impossible to have end-of-year and holiday celebrations and festivities. But, as the expression goes, “where there’s a will, there’s a way”, and that’s exactly the attitude and approach many companies have adopted during these challenging times. They’ve realised that this year, probably more than other years, their employees need something to improve spirits and bring them together, and they’re planning some wonderful and creative alternatives.

Speaking of planning, in my previous blog I shared these five tips on what to think about as you plan your activities, and the same is true when planning your events:

1. Start by asking yourself the question “what am I really trying to do”?

2. Ask yourself “how do I want my employees to feel”?

3. Re-think and re-invent how you deliver your objectives.

4. Deliver in a diverse and inclusive way.

5. Remember, you don’t have to spend a fortune.

And to give you a bit more help and inspiration, I’m excited to share with you examples of what eight companies are planning on doing in their own unique and individual way. The first five are about holiday parties and award ceremonies, and the final three are about holiday wellbeing, something equally important to focus on at this time of the year:

  1. At Invosys they’re holding a virtual Christmas Party/Annual Awards night. Ready-meals and drinks will be delivered to every employee’s home so they can all eat and drink ‘together’. They’ve arranged a great line-up of entertainment throughout, including a DJ to wrap up and energise the celebrations. And regarding the awards, they’ve pre-arranged with the winner’s families to award them to the individual in real-time to make it that much more special for the winner.

  2. At Reward Gateway they’re holding an interactive virtual holiday party. It starts with a welcome gift that employees select when they register, choosing between a variety of drinks, chocolates, a wellbeing pack or a donation to a selected charity. They’ll run four interactive activities to create an interactive experience for everyone, including a quiz, karaoke, charades and recognition. Prizes range from a bag of brussels sprouts to a Fitbit, and everything in between. They’re also having lots of competitions and activities such as a ‘best dressed challenge’, ‘how many baubles in my festive sack’ game, and a ‘spin the wheel’ game where names are randomly selected to perform a challenge and win a prize. The aim is for everyone to get involved and everyone to win a prize, great combination!

  3. At eve Sleep they’ll be bringing the team together in a virtual setting for their holiday party and end-of-year awards. Employees will be sent pizza and mince pie making kits along with a voucher for drinks so that they can cook together and then sit down for a virtual meal. For their awards, as with previous years they’ll be celebrating individuals who have lived and breathed each of their company values, plus they’ve added some lockdown awards including best backdrop, best mishap, and best work-from-home setup.

  4. At En Route International they’re holding a virtual ‘Back to the 80’s’ cocktail party. Employees will be sent a ‘party in a box’ that includes 80’s retro accessories, sweets and snacks, ingredients for cocktail making, pre-mixed cocktails/mocktails, a shot glass, midnight munchies, a hangover survival kit and a kazoo to be used during one of the games. And speaking of games, there will be a variety of activities in-line with the theme such as a virtual disco, a dance competition, and the premier of their annual Xmas video done to this year’s song ‘Club Tropicana’, a popular 80’s hit.

  5. At another company, whose name I cannot share as they haven’t announced their plans to their employees yet, they’ve also moved their end-of-year awards party to a virtual event. The technology they’ll be using will allow them to present on a main stage and then bring winners onto the screen to celebrate their achievements, making it that much more special. To get colleagues excited, they’ve sent invitations to home addresses, and then before the event they’ll receive a fully personalised party pack that includes a small bottle of champagne, chocolates and a programme for the evening. Regarding dress code, I’ve been told that it will most likely be party on the top and pyjamas on the bottom!

  6. At the Ministry of Justice, besides celebrating the holidays, they’re supporting their employees by running a webinar called ‘Reframing Our Festivals’, which looks at alternative and fun ways to celebrate, and innovative ways to connect with loved ones who you cannot be with physically. This builds on the success of their ‘by staff, for staff’ webinars during lockdown, with the facilitator being someone from their leadership and capability team.

  7. At Teleperformance they’re also finding ways to give back during the holidays, supporting their employee’s wellbeing by supporting others. An example is their ‘Keep Smiling’ campaign which has the taglines of “working together to keep the nation smiling, helping care homes spread the joy”. Cards were designed by TP employees and family members that have lovely hand drawn images and upbeat messages, and are sent to residents in care homes as well as key workers, delivering them along with treats so that they don’t feel forgotten and, of course, kept smiling. These have been updated with holiday themes, continuing to spread more love and joy during the holiday season.

  8. At Checkatrade they’re also giving back by holding a ‘Check the Halls’ Christmas Charity Challenge as a way to support the Samaritans during the holiday season. Employees can enter four challenge categories - best dressed tree, best themed tree, best dressed house and worst dressed tree - making a minimum £2 donation. All entries will be shared with staff, who will donate to vote for their favourites to win. The winners will receive a tin of Celebrations – to celebrate their victory.

So that’s it for my end-of-year and holiday blogs. I hope they’ve helped and inspired you, and I wish you all a happy and healthy holiday season.

This blog was originally posted on HR Zone.


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