Remote work, working from different locations, cross-border collaboration, and last but not least Corona. There are many reasons why a Christmas party should take place online in 2020. At first glance, a virtual Christmas party doesn't sound that fun, but with the right tips, tricks and tools and a little creativity, the digital company party can still be a great success.
Here we go: Until recently, it was unthinkable for many that virtual meetings could also have nice sides. And even if personal meetings are irreplaceable, new approaches for a digital “feeling of togetherness” are more in demand today than ever. We at Theyo have already sweetened many teams and organizations' virtual events with our online tastings . We tried out a lot, learned a lot and are now prepared for the Christmas season. We would be happy to share the most exciting learnings and best ideas with you so that your virtual Christmas party will be remembered fondly!
Invite Only: The right invitation makes all the difference
A boring calendar invitation doesn't exactly get your colleagues or employees in the party mood. How about a free, virtual invitation instead? Or – to build a bridge to real life – even a physical invitation card? Whether digital or “real”, a nice invitation with information about the dress code, food and other preparatory measures is much more impressive than a plain meeting invitation. Tip: Make sure to filter for free designs when sending the virtual invitation. These are available, for example, from Punchbowl or from services like Canva .
Spoiled for choice: Which is the right tool for your virtual Christmas party?
We have now made over 1,500 employees a little happier with our team events andchocolate boxes in 2020 alone. We probably used every tool imaginable to do this. From Skype, Teams, Google Hangouts, Whereby and Zoom, everything was included. Apart from possible data protection concerns, Zoom was our favorite - especially for larger groups (200+) and breakout sessions. As always, when choosing a tool, the question is what you really need or what is possible. For example, if you only celebrate with a smaller team, virtual rooms may not be that important. Even with large groups, it can be nice to stay in one “room” for the entire event. However, of course the usual small talk falls a bit flat.
No Christmas party without Christmas jumpers
Ask your team to wear something festive. A Santa hat, a Christmas sweater or shirt, festive jewelry or reindeer ears. Even if it sounds a bit silly, it's little things like this that can contribute to a relaxed atmosphere. During the celebration, you can vote for which person wears the best Christmas party outfit and award virtual prizes. You can make the selection directly on Zoom using the survey tool or using external tools such as Mentimeter or Google Forms.
A virtual Christmas party that everyone enjoys
Admittedly, we are of course prejudiced. Nevertheless, after so many virtual chocolate tastings , we can say that almost everyone likes chocolate. In contrast to alcohol - which is not always well received at Christmas parties for various reasons - chocolate is harmless and super tasty. But of course the Christmas party can be a success even without chocolate ;-). In this case, you could organize a cooking session together or have everyone bring their own favorite food. Sending a cooking box in advance would also be a nice idea.
But if you decide on chocolate, here's a quick note on your own behalf. A chocolate tasting is particularly good at the beginning of the Christmas party because it spreads a good atmosphere and is a good “icebreaker”, especially for colleagues who may not know each other that well yet.
Virtual dinner in breakout rooms
At a Christmas party, food is often the event point around which everything is planned. Why should it be different virtually? At the virtual Christmas party, for example, there could be several courses and the teams can sit down differently at the virtual tables for each course. The idea: Each table is a room, so that around 10 people “sit” together in each room. To make the whole thing a little more visual, you can work with Google Slides in parallel to the session, for example. A table with chairs, food, etc. can already be shown on the film. Each person in the digital space then moves their picture onto a “chair” and so it is clear who the direct conversation partners are. We have already tested this at a team event and found it very entertaining.
Topics for breakout sessions
Especially if there are newer colleagues in the team, it can help to give some discussion suggestions in advance. Around the holidays, it is of course a good idea to prepare a series of discussion opportunities around this topic. For example, team members can start by discussing how they and their families spend the holidays, what foods they eat or – more generally – whether they celebrate Christmas at all. And in that case, of course, what they do instead. Once these icebreaker topics are dealt with, topics of their own will certainly arise. Otherwise, you can always have a few more topics up your sleeve that you, as moderators, can place in the individual virtual rooms from time to time. By the way, if you decide to have a chocolate tasting at the beginning, a suitable pairing could be served and discussed in the rooms. So a (non-alcoholic) wine, a craft beer or even a coffee. This could also be discussed in small groups afterwards.
By the way: _Many companies - Theyo included - don't hold their Christmas parties until January. The advantage is obvious! In addition to the larger selection of service providers and a free choice of dates, the pre-Christmas stress is over and there is a great start to the new year!
Whatever you decide, have fun!