How to Celebrate the Holidays with Virtual Employees

Office holiday parties have been around since there have been offices. Remote work has been the norm for many workers since the mid-2000s. Post-pandemic, a fair number of workers are staying remote, part-time, or permanently. So, what happens to the office party when a sizeable number of team members aren’t in to attend?

You can still celebrate the holidays with your virtual employees without requiring them to attend the in-person holiday party. A virtual holiday gathering with your remote team members lets everyone engage. Large or small, it’s a way for companies to say “thanks” to their virtual employees for their hard work during the year.

In-person party

If your virtual employees are close enough to attend, consider having an in-person event where everyone can meet at a set location. Everyone can meet face-to-face, get better acquainted, boost morale, and strengthen relationships. Depending on your team and location, the party can be in the office, at a restaurant, or other venue.

For teammates who are too far remote to attend, whether out of town or out of the country, a virtual party can get everyone together to mix and mingle from wherever they are.

Virtual party themes and ideas

Set a theme for the virtual office party so that everyone can participate. Once you set a time where everyone can attend, send out the invite and get it onto everyone’s calendar.

  • The Ugly Sweater Party is a fun, simple way for teammates to get into the spirit of the holidays.
  • Virtual Holiday Movie Night—streaming services bring all kinds of movies to your living room. Why not have everyone watch a holiday movie together as if they were in the same room? Teleparty is a browser extension for Chrome that allows multiple people to watch a movie together, complete with chat (or use your Slack channels.) It works with Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, and Disney.
  • Game night—anyone for Pictionary? Trivia? How about a holiday version of bingo? Add online games to your holiday party for more interaction.

Encourage your teammates to dress in holiday gear for the party, even just a holiday t-shirt. Don’t know where to start? Companies like Confetti, Teamland, Outback Team & Training, and Cooleaf offer done-for-you solutions so you can enjoy your online company party.

Holiday recipe swap

Many people have recipes they must make every holiday season, such as:

  • A cherished family holiday favorite
  • A recipe found in a blog, cookbook, or magazine that became part of their holiday repertoire
  • Recipes from a different culture or country found during research or while traveling or living abroad
  • A unique recipe they created themselves

A holiday recipe swap can be a great way to share and introduce teams to different tastes they might not otherwise enjoy. The swap can be strictly online or incorporated into an in-person party.

The Cookie Swap

Desserts are abundant this time of year, especially cookies. A cookie swap may be just the ticket to build team relationships. You can do this in two ways:

  • Hold a recipe swap just for cookies
  • Let teammates bake a dozen cookies, send them to another teammate and receive a dozen from a different teammate.

Set up a spreadsheet in Google Docs to let people sign up with their names, addresses, and allergy requirements (i.e., no nuts, no gluten) or bring them to the in-person holiday party.

Holiday cards and gifts

Virtual employees appreciate the little surprise when they receive a card or small holiday gift to thank them for their contributions. One easy way to do that is to send holiday cards to each of your virtual employees.

If you’d also like to send a gift, there are multiple options:

  • Company-branded merchandise, such as a coffee mug, coffee warmer, t-shirt, water bottle, tumbler, shopping bag, or phone stand
  • Gourmet coffee or tea
  • A “work from home” essentials box
  • White noise machines for as little as $10 on Amazon
  • Gift certificate for an e-learning platform such as Coursera or Udemy to sharpen or update their skillsets
  • Small succulent plants for the home office, which need some sunlight and little water
  • Snack boxes with the contents of your choice: candy, cookies, popcorn, or an assortment of different snacks
  • A gift card inside the holiday card, such as a Starbucks card for coffee lovers
  • A gift subscription, such as Netflix, for a month or two

Holiday gifts for virtual team members do not have to be expensive, just meaningful. It’s a great way to remind these teammates that they are appreciated.

Secret Santa Gift Exchange

How can you do a Secret Santa when you have a diversified team? Virtually, of course.

Elfster is a free online gift exchange that makes having a “Secret Santa” gift-giving event easy. Log into the website and set up a Secret Santa for your company (you can also set a spending limit) and send email invitations to everyone in your company. The participants can “wish list” any number of things they want from places like Amazon and Target. Gift registry items start at $5 and up and contain a variety of items.

The website then randomly assigns names to gift buyers and keeps everything secret (with a master list sent to the host.) The gift buyer then selects an item from the recipient’s registry, orders it, and sends it directly to them. You can specify a specific delivery date. Have an online holiday party and let everyone open their Secret Santa gifts during the party.

Alternate: Team Meditation/Yoga Session

The holidays are fun but stressful for many people. Take a different tactic and hold an online meditation and/or yoga session for employees. You’ll promote health and wellness and offer employees time to de-stress. You could also expand the medication or yoga sessions into weekly sessions for the entire month of December. Hold them on the same day, such as Monday, so everyone can join during the holiday season.

Keep in touch with your remote team during the holidays and all year long with a VoIP system from Press8 Telecom. Calls and video conferences are just a touch away. You and your team can work from anywhere with an Internet connection. If you’re considering upgrading to VoIP, contact us for a free quote today.


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