21 Best Ideas for a Safe Holiday Work Party in 2021
After months of social distancing and limiting interpersonal interactions, the fate of the traditional holiday work party is up in the air. You may be wondering how to host a safe holiday work party this season that is festive but keeps all involved out of harm’s way. What virtual holiday party options are out there — and is a virtual event the only option?
With a little creativity and a few adjustments here and there, you’ll find that there are plenty of interesting virtual and social distancing-friendly ways to host a safe holiday work party this season.
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- How to Host a Holiday Work Party
- The Do’s and Don’ts for a Holiday Work Party
- 21 Best Ideas for a Safe Holiday Work Party in 2021
How to Host a Holiday Work Party
Hosting a holiday work party isn’t too different than hosting any other party. With a bit of organization and few creative ideas, you’ll be on your way to a fantastic event. But there are a few extra measures to take this year to host a safe holiday work party during the pandemic.
Decide Between a Virtual or in-Person Event
Planning a holiday work party in 2021 requires one extra step, thanks to the global pandemic — deciding if your event will be hosted in-person or online.
To decide, consider your company’s current gathering policy. Is everyone working from home, or are you masked and distanced, but back in the office? Let your company’s current policy be your guide to planning a safe holiday work party. If you and your coworkers are all working remotely, a virtual holiday work party may be the best option for your team, while a socially-distanced party may be appropriate if your office has resumed in-person work.
Organize a Planning Committee
A small committee planning the holiday work party together ensures a variety of voices are contributing to creating and executing the event. You’ll get more creative input and have a team of eager people willing to work to pull off an amazing event!
Pick a Theme or Activity
Hold a brainstorming session with your party planning committee to decide on a theme or activity for your holiday party. An online cooking class or virtual tasting event could be perfect for a team of foodies; or an outdoor cocoa night or going to see Christmas lights could create the prime opportunities for team bonding and casual networking.
Pick a Time
Calendars fill up quickly during the holidays (though 2021 may be an exception for many). While Friday evening may be a traditional time for a holiday work party, your coworkers may have personal events to keep them from attending. Consider an evening earlier in the week or even a lunchtime party...with the afternoon off!
Send Out Timely and Clear Invitations
Before blasting out that invitation email, check and make sure it includes all the details your coworkers will need. Include the date, time, appropriate attire and directions, if necessary. Because calendars do get booked during the holidays, try and send out the invitation about two weeks in advance of the event.
If it’s a virtual event, place the link to attend in a prominent spot. If you’re holding your event in person, some details about mask and social distancing requirements will set clear expectations for everyone attending and may assuage some employees' concerns about how to have a safe holiday work party during the pandemic.
The Do's and Don'ts for a Holiday Work Party
Stick to the “do’s” and avoid the “don’ts” to host a successful holiday work party this season.
Do Host an Event That Appeals to a Majority of Your Staff
Try and plan an event that appeals to the majority of your company’s employees. The point of a holiday work party, after all, is to celebrate employees’ hard work during the year with a bit of time off to enjoy themselves.
Don’t Ignore Workplace Norms
Although your holiday party is a celebration, it’s not the time to throw decorum out the window. Keep an eye on alcohol consumption and stick to office-appropriate attire, unless an alternative dress code is provided.
Do Practice Your Area’s Safe Gathering Guidelines
Keep your holiday work party safe for all attendees by following your area’s guidelines for gathering (or not gathering). If masks are required in your area, be sure to let your guests know they will be required at the party, and provide a few extra at the event in case someone forgets their mask.
Don’t Go Over Budget
While generosity is a virtue of the season, do your best to stick to your budget. Employees like to see their company spending responsibly, even if it means their holiday work party has a little less “wow” factor. Keep the heart of the party in mind, providing a chance for celebration and meaningful interaction between coworkers.
Do Encourage Attendance
After months of social distancing, team bonding is particularly necessary this holiday season. Even if your holiday work party is virtual, encourage attendance. Just seeing and interacting with new faces, even online, can refresh your team and provide a chance for meaningful interactions.
21 Best Ideas for a Safe Holiday Work Party in 2021
Stumped on social distancing-friendly work Christmas party ideas? Here are 21 creative party ideas to get your juices flowing. If you can’t meet in person for your holiday party, don’t write off a virtual event! Many companies have pivoted their in-person experiences to online classes and events, so you can host a safe holiday work party this season while enjoying a unique experience together.
Food and Drink
1. Online Cooking Classes
Whether your team is into sushi, Spanish tapas or authentic Italian cuisine, a diverse variety of live, interactive online cooking classes are a surefire way to get conversation flowing and create memories together during your holiday work party.
2. Online Holiday Cooking Classes
You could also get in the holiday spirit and learn a few new kitchen tricks with online holiday cooking classes! Your coworkers can get some practice in for the family holiday meal by learning how to make a full-course turkey dinner, or bring something new to their holiday gathering after learning to bake Argentinian holiday empanadas!
3. Social Distance-Friendly Cooking Classes
Whether you decide on a holiday-themed menu or something completely different, cooking classes are crowd pleasers; your team will learn new skills from a talented chef and devour a delicious meal at the end of the night! You'll find cooking classes in DC, cooking classes in San Francisco and more. Browse the cooking classes near you to pick your favorite.
All in-person cooking classes are designated with the current safety regulations being followed, such as chefs wearing or providing masks and keeping with social distance guidelines.
4. Social Distance-Friendly Private Chefs
If your team would rather spend their time enjoying great food than making it, private chef experiences are another delicious way to treat your team. These culinary experiences are available in multiple cities, including private chefs in Houston, private chefs in Los Angeles and beyond. Check out the private chefs near you to book your gourmet experience!
Like in-person cooking classes, private chefs follow current safety and social distancing guidlines, including wearing masks.
5. Online Mixology Classes
Shake up cocktail hour and learn to make the drinks yourself! Master the art of cocktail making from home with your team with online mixology classes. To keep things festive, choose a class that offers holiday mixed drinks like eggnog cocktails or boozy cocoa.
6. Virtual Beer Tastings
If your team prefers a fresh IPA over a sweet rose, consider a virtual beer tasting for your holiday work party! As with the virtual wine tasting options, you can find free, BYOB Zoom tasting classes or paid virtual events that ship the beer to participants.
7. Virtual Wine Tastings
Virtual wine tasting connects you and your group with knowledgeable sommeliers and chefs all over the world, all from the comfort of home. Along with learning the delicate art of wine tasting, your team will get to learn recipes for appetizing small plates that perfectly complement each glass of wine. Treat your team to a few (small) drinks after an unusual year and unwind together.
8. Virtual Whiskey Tastings
Much like a virtual beer or wine tasting, virtual whiskey tastings are a unique and immersive way to enjoy your drink of choice with an educational spin, all from the comfort of home. Taught by industry-leading scotch stewards, you'll get to sample whiskey, bourbon and scotch selections from around the world while learning all about the history, distilling methods and flavor notes of each selection. Plus, you'll leave class armed with new cocktail recipes and food pairings to try again and again.
9. Host a Virtual Wine and Cheese Tasting Night
Virtual happy hours were one of the first pandemic innovations. If you’re holding your holiday work party online, ask everyone to bring their favorite wine and cheese pairing to the call. Your team will bond over discovering new and unique pairings from their colleagues.
10. Hold a Fireside Cocoa Night
Take your party out-of-office and gather at a local outdoor spot for a cocoa night around the fire.
11. Have a Cookie Swap
Who doesn’t love discovering new treats? Ask guests to bake (or buy) and bring a dozen cookies, individually proportioned and packaged, to the holiday work party to share. Pair the cookie swap with an online mixology class or even an online coffee class so the whole team has a beverage to enjoy with their treats.
12. Try a Virtual Trivia Night
Get the party going with a trivia competition! Everyone can tune in on Zoom and play a couple rounds from the comfort of home. Pick some holiday-themed questions for added fun, and you could even offer a prize to amp up the competition.
13. Desktop Decoration Contest
The day or two before the party, coworkers can set aside some time to embellish their desk, office or cubicle with fun holiday decorations and lights. At the party, everyone can stroll through at their own socially-distanced pace to admire each others’ creative setups — maybe even with a prize for the team member whose decor is the biggest hit!
This could also be adapted to remote workers who can decorate their home office space. Then, they can take turns showing off their creative work during a virtual office party.
14. Hold an Outdoor Scavenger Hunt
Set your crew loose on the city with a list of Christmas-themed locations or objects to find. The first person to complete the hunt gets a predetermined prize.
15. Gift-Wrap Face-Off
Add this game to your holiday party for a little friendly competition. Divide your guests into two sides: Gift wrappers and a panel of judges. The first wrappers have 3-5 minutes (your call) to wrap a number of boxes. When time’s up, the judges decide who did the best job!
Make sure to keep things social distancing-friendly by giving each team member their own box to wrap and small stash of supplies.
16. Virtual Game Night
Virtual game nights are now just as easy as getting together in person. You can find virtual versions of escape rooms, murder mystery parties, charades, word games and more, all at the click of a button. This inclusive option lets everyone relax and let loose from home without worrying about social distancing guidelines.
Themes and Activities
17. Curate a Craft Night
If you have a creative crew, host a holiday-themed craft night. Create ornaments, coasters, candles...whatever you decide! Keep the party light and interactive with conversation prompts around the tables and plenty of things to sip and snack on. Make sure everyone has their own workspace and stash of craft supplies to keep things social distance-friendly.
18. Wake up to Christmas Morning
A Christmas-morning themed holiday work party will have all your coworkers nostalgic for their younger years. Serve holiday breakfast fare like breakfast breads and egg dishes, and warm drinks like coffee and cider. You could even encourage your team to wear their (office-appropriate) pajamas!
Add masks, choose a large room and individually portion the food to make this theme work for social distancing.
19. Classic Christmas Gift Swap
Add an element of surprise to your holiday work party with a classic Christmas gift swap or Secret Santa. Ask your coworkers to fill out a small questionnaire detailing a few of their favorite treats and hobbies and then secretly pull names to decide who buys a gift for whom. Gifts can be placed in a communal spot — like under the office Christmas tree or on a breakroom table — to avoid exchanging hands directly.
This could also be adapted to a virtual party by having guests mail their Secret Santa gift ahead of the party.
20. Make It Christmas Movie Themed
Elf, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer...you have plenty of options with this theme. Challenge yourself to recreate the movie as creatively as possible for your party, incorporating the movie into the decor, drinks, snacks and games. Provide plenty of space and masks to ensure everyone adheres to social distancing.
21. Go on a Christmas Lights Tour
For this social-distancing friendly holiday party idea, find the most extravagantly lit neighborhood in town and load up cars to take a tour of the Christmas lights. Provide warm drinks and snacks to make it a party!
Hosting a safe holiday work party this season just takes a bit of creativity and a few tweaks to classic Christmas party themes. But after a long, strange year, treating your staff to a holiday party, even virtually, is sure to lift spirits and provide some much-needed team bonding.
The holiday season may look different this year, but it’s still possible to curate generosity, kindness, and joy online and offline.
What to wear to a holiday work party?
Unless there is a specified dress code, play it safe and stick to office-appropriate attire.
Where to host a holiday work party?
The office may be the most ideal location to host a holiday work party because it’s a familiar and easily accessible spot for your team. However, if you have the budget, you could consider renting a venue to make the party extra-special for your staff!
What are the best holiday party games for work?
The best holiday party games for work include a majority of attendees and get your group chatting and making memories together. Go classic, like holiday-themed Pictionary and charades, or mix it up with a name-that-Christmas-carol competition or a scavenger hunt.
What are the best holiday party themes for work?
The best holiday party themes for work incorporate the spirit season as well as your staff’s interests. Here are a few theme ideas: Christmas movies, winter, Christmas morning, winter holidays around the world, cookie swap party or fireside cocoa night.
What are some holiday work party raffle ideas?
Holding a raffle at your holiday work party? Here are a few raffle prize ideas: Chocolate gift basket, a cooking class, the latest tech toy (like a smart speaker or headphones) or sports tickets.