If there has ever been a need to boost employee engagement and team morale, it’s 2021. And what better way than with a company holiday party??
After an extremely challenging 18+months of pandemic disruptions, the time-honored tradition of the company holiday party has become more important than ever. It’s these events where we foster connections beyond the day-to-day work and Zoom calls, celebrate the year that has been, and start to look forward to the next.
Whether your entire company is working remotely, adopting a hybrid model, meeting in-person, or just facing utter chaos about what direction you’re taking... now is the time to start thinking about your next company or team party.
Planning is key.
Especially since celebrating (or not) can have a significant impact on next year. A poorly planned company holiday party isn’t just wasted time and money, it can result in a drop in morale and loyalty, and even increased turnover during this time dubbed the Great Resignation.
That’s a big responsibility for those in charge. Where do you even start?
We’ve been planning in-person, virtual, and hybrid team events for quite some time. So, we pulled together a list of 10 of our favorite ideas for team holiday parties in 2021. All of them provide opportunities to recognize employee achievements, strengthen team connections, and are inclusive. They’re also adaptable for team size and composition, making them perfect for in-person, virtual, and hybrid teams alike.
1. Organize A Team Awards Show
Perfect for in-person, hybrid and virtual teams, a team awards show is your chance to showcase the serious and the not-so-serious team achievements, as well as individual characteristics and habits. Let your team members vote ahead of time and then set up your awards show in-person or virtually. You can take it to the next level by assigning presenters, coordinating a ‘trophy’ for each winner, implementing a fancy dress code, and also giving away special prizes. Use Hollywood as your inspiration and you’ll find the options are endless.
If you’re hosting virtually, use tools like Jamboard to help participants stay engaged while far apart. Setup the boards in advance for each award. Attendees can use virtual post-its to share favorite quotes, stories, or other types of anecdotes. They can even draw!
2. Host A Team Quiz
Quizzes are a useful way to bring teams together to work collaboratively to solve problems and showcase trivia skills that go beyond the realm of work. You can keep it simple and DIY by using print-outs or powerpoint or you can be a bit more tech-savvy and use one of the many online quiz resources out there or even an app like TriviaMaker. If you’re going virtual, you can also use breakout rooms for added team challenges. Just nominate a quiz master and a points counter, get creative, and prepare your team for some healthy competition.
3. Indulge Your Team In An All-Inclusive Chocolate Experience
Why not reward your team with a delicious gift and a hands-on experience all in one? It’s inclusive, fun, and rewarding, with the added bonus of being stress-free for the organizers. Companies like tinyB Chocolate offer virtual, hybrid, and in-person experiences where each team member receives a chocolate kit, complete with everything they need to make beautiful, delicious Brazilian truffles or cookies. Everyone is then invited to a live chocolate-making class filled with culture, story-telling, conversations, and competitions. Added bonus: we take care of everything.
4. Create An Ultimate Team Challenge
If your team loves high-energy group activities and a little competition, then an ultimate team challenge could be a perfect option. While they definitely require more work from the organizer, these team building activities are all about working together to tackle a variety of physical, mental, and skills-based challenges.
Divide into smaller teams to race against the clock and outcompete the other teams for completing challenges. Here’s where you need to get creative… the ‘challenges’ could be logic problems, a scavenger hunt, composing and singing a jingle, designing an ad slogan, a fitness challenge, and more. Allocate points to each challenge, run a leader board, and reward effort and achievement. It’s bound to create stories for future gatherings!
5. Organize A Team Holiday Wellness Party
Holidays are often known for excessive consumption. It’s usually when we indulge a little too much, leaving us faced with unattainable new year's resolutions in January. That’s why a team wellness party could be a welcome alternative after the year we’ve had. Remember, this is all about feeling good. Think about hosting a yoga or dance session, running a group-wide meditation from Headspace or Calm, bring in a guest to discuss mental health in the workplace, and even think about putting together wellness goody bags.
Want to take wellness to the next level? If you are located near a science museum with a planetarium, contact guest services and ask to speak to a private events team. They may be open to hosting a yoga or meditation session in their planetarium or theater.
6. Host A Game Night
For those of you who have teams that prefer to interact in smaller groups, a game night could be a great company holiday party option. Choose games that most people know and are easy to execute - think pictionary, scrabble, bingo, trivia, hedbanz, and charades. These days with a little extra coordination it’s also possible to host a virtual game night or even a team scavenger hunt thanks to a variety of apps on offer. Just encourage everyone to wear comfortable clothes, bring a good attitude, and get ready for a little competition.
If everyone is remote or your event is hybrid, Jackbox games is a relatively low-cost options for games that people can play or watch from anywhere.
7. Give Back To Your Local Community
An office-wide charity drive or event can be a great way to get everyone into the holiday spirit and boost morale, especially after this year and the pandemic. You can get everyone to volunteer or collect donations for a local charity that resonates with your team. There are lots of online resources; however, a great place to start is Givewell who will help you to understand how far each dollar goes with each charity or VolunteerMatch. You can poll the team to choose a charity, and then strategize how you can support them. Remember even a little bit goes a long way.
It can be hard to find non-profits that have the bandwidth to coordinate a group volunteering experience, but many cities have local agencies like Boston Cares that can help match your company with an organization without a lot of heavy lifting.
8. Organize An Escape Room
Popular in-person and increasingly popular for virtual teams, escape rooms are the epitome of building teamwork skills under pressure. Teams network quickly with each other and work through a series of problems and activities to avoid a loss and escape the room. While there’s no shortage of physical rooms in major cities, here are a few of the Independent’s favorite virtual escape room companies.
9. Host An Office Olympics
Japan’s Olympics may have passed and, even though it’s only one year until the next Winter Olympics, hosting an Office Olympics can be a great way for your team to bond over some fun and creative in-office games. Get creative and utilize fun office party games that include everyone. You’ll need a schedule of events, teams (maybe even with uniforms), a scoreboard, umpires, and prizes. We love some of the game ideas from office culture masters WeWork.
10. Organize An Office Talent Show
We can often work with colleagues for years before discovering their hidden skills or passions. Give your employees a chance to showcase their talent in your next company holiday party. The challenge will be coaxing any shy team members to participate, so think about providing a few different options. Maybe it’s setting up a gallery space (virtual or physical) for artistic talents, or allowing for a culinary element for those budding Masterchefs. You can also hire some local performers for some extra entertainment during the downtime!