Planning this year’s festivities? Our ideas will have your team rocking around the virtual Christmas tree in no time.
Nobody’s quite sure how Christmas festivities are going to play out this year, but for most companies it’s likely going to be a virtual affair. So, what are your options for a remote Christmas party?
1. Contactless Kris Kindle
One of the most popular ways of marking Christmas in the workplace is through Kris Kindle or Secret Santa. Typically, a nominee would fill a hat with the names of their colleagues on slips of paper and dole them out, giving each person a teammate to get a gift for. For obvious reasons, most of us won’t be doing that this year. Many teams aren’t in the same office and those that are will be conscious of physical distancing.
The first step towards a successful remote Kris Kindle is using an online name-drawing tool. Here at Siliconrepublic.com, we’ve opted for DrawNames.com. It’s free and easy to use; once everyone signs up, they each get a name by email and that’s the person they’ll buy a gift for. You can also use it to set budgets and post wish lists.
The second part is getting the presents to one another. Again, it’s likely than many of us won’t get to see our co-workers in person this year so might have to turn to a postal delivery.
One option here is pre-paid packaging – you can check out options for this on An Post’s website. You can choose from special gift bags or boxes. Order a batch of these, distribute them to your teammates, and each person can fill one and send it off to a colleague at no personal cost.
2. ‘Panto on demand’
For some people, it’s just not Christmas without a panto. The Helix and TheatreworX recently announced an online showing of The Sword in the Stone starring Irish actress Amilia Stewart-Keating.
Tickets are already on sale for €20 each, but there are also corporate and school packages on offer. You can either choose from six live streams throughout December and early January or the ‘panto on demand’ option, which you can view between 23 December and 5 January.
3. Organised virtual fun
If the panto isn’t your cup of tea, there are other virtual events worth considering. I did a spooky Halloween tour over Zoom last month and it was great fun. There was a chat where we could talk to each other during it, there were prizes for the best costumes and we got to learn new things about Irish history.
Why not pick a less spooky one and reward the best Christmas jumpers? There are loads of free virtual tours out there, or you could book a private one with a host.
Alternatively, you could decide to take a virtual Christmas cookery class, a card-making session or a private group painting lesson with Paint by the Pints.
Irish start-up Business Games has also stepped up to the challenge and organised an online event called Holidays Around the World. It incorporates videoconferencing, chatbots and interactive activities for up to 600 players, bringing them on a journey through festive traditions.
4. Watch movies together (but apart)
You may want to spend your remote Christmas watching Home Alone and eating sweets with your colleagues. If that’s the case, you can choose from a number of options that will let all of you watch something at the same time.
Chrome extension Sync Watch gives you access to a virtual room in which videos are synchronised. For people who have Netflix, the extension Netflix Party is another option.
I can personally vouch for the many incredibly cheesy Christmas films on Netflix at the moment, but there are recent non-festive additions such as Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse and Holmes and Watson, too.
There are also comedian Alison Spittle’s regular ‘Covideo parties’. These are a great way to watch a film together and discuss it in real time on Twitter using the dedicated hashtag. Your team could all watch the chosen film using one of the tools above and simultaneously keep tabs on the Twitter conversation for some added laughs.
Finally, people living in Dublin might enjoy going to a special Christmas-themed drive-in cinema. It’s taking place at the RDS from Friday 4 December, with films such as The Greatest Showman, Elf, Die Hard, Gremlins and more in the line-up. This option is a bit more limited as each person would have to drive to the movie themselves, but a nice consolation prize is the food and drinks that will be on offer once they get there.
5. Make Zoom quizzes great again
You might have sworn off Zoom quizzes for good after they took the remote world by storm earlier this year. However, stepping it up a bit can make for a whole new experience.
Hiring an external quiz master who can develop the questions, entertain the group and manage the video system can make a huge difference. It’s also worth checking out quizzes that have already been organised, such as Alison Spittle’s Christmas quiz, or you could use tools such as SpeedQuizzing.
There are other options for Zoom parties. You could hire a musician to entertain a group virtually, or even a magician.
6. Laughter Lounge’s ‘party in a box’
You could treat your team to a box curated by Dublin’s Laughter Lounge this year. The comedy club has put together hampers that contain drinks, snacks and novelties to add to the fun of watching a virtual comedy show together. The show features a celebrity quiz, bingo, a magic show, a retro game show and 12 different comedians.
7. Give back this remote Christmas
Christmas is also a great time to give back to other people. A major campaign every year is the Shoebox Appeal by Team Hope. As with many other organisations, the annual charity campaign has pivoted online in an effort to still reach as many children as possible.
You can simply choose to donate a sum of money, or you can opt to build a virtual shoebox on the company’s website. You could even make a group activity out of it and build and fill the shoeboxes together over a Zoom call.