While blowing out birthday candles in the office is well and truly behind us, celebrating the holiday season is certainly not. We shine a light on creative ways to spread the festive cheer – albeit from a safe, 1.5-metre distance.
By Danae Dimitropoulou
This has been a year like no other. Globally, phrases like “the new normal” and “unprecedented times” have worked their way into our everyday lexicon, and we find ourselves repeating them, almost unconsciously.
What started out as a refreshing pause from our on-the-go, 24/7 schedules, soon transpired into what scientists now refer to as COVID fatigue, with an increasing number of people reporting feeling anxious and tired. Suffice to say, a little collective festive cheer has never been more needed.
With the usual parade of Christmas parties and end-of-year celebrations off the menu, businesses are looking for creative, safe ways to socialise – something that’s integral to every workplace.
“When cultivating a good company culture and team morale, events play a really big part,” says Talia Tomaino, business services manager at the Jellis Craig Group in Melbourne.
“Both of those things are at the forefront of my mind when I’m organising events. We put a lot of effort and resources into them. They’re marked in the calendar and people really look forward to them. It’s our chance to bring everyone together, so they feel like they’re part of something bigger,” she says.
Tomaino acknowledges that in a normal year the task is to create an atmosphere that’s warm, welcoming and enjoyable, all of which helps to contribute to the overall success and enjoyment of an event. But this year, the focus has shifted.
“This year, it’s going back to what’s important which is being together and saying thank you to [staff for] what’s been a really challenging year,” she says.
“The focus is really saying thanks to the group for what’s been a difficult year – working from home, pivoting online and setting up achievable goals for 2021. It’s going to be excellent to get people together, although it will look quite different.”
While we may have to swap dance floors for picnic rugs, there are myriad ways to inject some fun into your end-of-year parties.
6 ways to celebrate responsibly
What it is: Kahoot! Quizzes
Why it’s good: While we’ve traded in-person pub quizzes for the virtual kind, there’s no shortage of fun to be had. With a range of quizzes available online, Kahoot! offers a range of topics that are sure to fire up some healthy workplace competition. From geography to language, art and science, there’s a range of content to be explored. You can customise the quiz to include a few fun industry questions.
What it is: Microsoft Teams party
Why it’s good: Put your virtual fatigue behind you – with a reinvigorated approach, hosting a virtual party via Microsoft Teams can bring some cheer. By converting meeting rooms into virtual lounges, teams can celebrate in a relaxed atmosphere. BYO cocktails.
What it is: Cooking masterclass
Why it’s good: Individual parcels get delivered to staff and the entire team meets on Zoom, with a professional leading a workshop. From cocktail mixing to cooking classes, cheese and wine tastings and gingerbread house decorating, there’s no shortage of fun or flavour to be enjoyed.
What it is: Festival of music
Why it’s good:
While crowded live music events are beyond our reach for the moment, we can swap the dancefloor for the living room. With Zoom Bomb, musicians can pop into meetings to surprise guests with a live song. And if you’d prefer a playlist over the acoustic kind, Spotify Group Sessions
allows teams to listen to the same playlist.
What it is: Long-distance social Santa
Why it’s good: Too many people to host a secret Santa in person? No worries. Enter: the mail kind. Rather than meeting for a present exchange, send presents out ahead of time and unwrap via Zoom.
What it is: Catered picnic
Why it’s good: For small teams that are able to gather outside within COVID guidelines, a catered picnic is bound to bring a burst of fun with minimal fuss.
“We set up and create the picnic – you create the memories,” says Alexandra Grant, founder of events company The Posh Palais.
“I create a lot of bespoke packages for corporate guests based on the style of event they are hoping for and budgets. It's a luxurious and novel way of picnicking and we don't have a time limit like most restaurants, so you can stay and enjoy for as long as you like.”