The holiday season might look a little different this year with teams fully remote or embracing hybrid, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get festive with your team and help your employees shine bright.
Hosting a company holiday party when your teams are dispersed is doable but takes some creativity to make holiday traditions virtual. Charades, holiday trivia, or a standard virtual happy hour, are all easy ways to get merry.
If you're looking for more tips, here are 12 virtual holiday party ideas to bring team members together for some festive cheer. 🎄 🕎
Kick off the holiday season with 12 virtual activities to spread cheer on your teams! Download our free activity guide below.
1. Virtual Secret Santa
Even though your team might be distributed, you can still include traditional Christmas party games like Secret Santa in your virtual holiday party. Everyone who likes getting gifts (and honestly, who doesn't?) will enjoy this mystery gift exchange.
Hosting a virtual Secret Santa is easy. First, choose a gifting budget, and use a tool like DrawNames or Google Sheets to assign pairings. Each participant will order a gift and send it to their assigned recipient.
Ask your team to wait until the virtual holiday party to open their gifts. During the party, employees can take turns opening their gifts and guessing the identities of their Secret Santas! 🎅
To make it into a fun holiday party game, have the Secret Santas post a clue on their card to hint who it could be too!
If you're using Cooleaf, you can manage the whole thing using the Cooleaf gifting feature. This makes it easy for employees to shop for and send gifts to coworkers:
‘Tis the season of giving, and bringing employees together to do good can be a huge morale booster. So why not include a virtual giving campaign as part of your festivities?
Virtual events are actually much easier to set up and run. Simply choose a charitable organization to support, pick a fundraising goal, and encourage your employees to donate. Along the way, keep things fun with raffles, step challenges, trivia challenges, and more.
Cooleaf's platform supports virtual giving campaigns with immersive experiences. Throughout your campaign, employees earn reward points that can be redeemed for charity donations.
If you're looking for more in-person volunteer options, you can create a list of local non-profits to encourage remote employees to come in for a volunteer day in their own cities.
3. Holiday bingo
Holiday bingo can be a fun lead-up to your Zoom holiday party, or even done on its own as a team-building activity.
First, make a holiday-themed bingo card filled with fun holiday activities. To make things easy, we've created one for you below:
Any virtual team can get into the holiday spirit with any of these activities, which they can do on their own or with their families, from building a snowman to sporting an ugly sweater.
If you’d rather DIY your own bingo card, we recommend Canva, a great free resource for creating graphics, and if you prefer, you can easily convert your Holiday Bingo Board into a scavenger hunt with employees sharing their festive decor, their holiday cards, and more.
Once you have your card set, you're ready to play bingo! Employees will "mark off" squares on their card by posting a photo of themselves completing each activity.
Sharing photos is a great way to connect and build relationships within a team. By sharing their holiday photos, team members can get the chance to see if they have anything in common. One of the most powerful ways to strengthen your team is through shared interests and activities.
Give prizes to anyone who completes 5, 10, or 15 squares, with a special bonusto the person who completes the most squares. You could also give bonuses to people for particular categories, like "funniest photo" or "most creative snowman."
Want more ideas on how to spread holiday cheer? Download our 12 Virtual Holiday Team Building Activities guide today!
4. Holiday recipe swap
Got an amazing recipe for cranberry sauce or tricks for building that gingerbread house? While your team might not be able to get together for an in-person meal, it's easy to host a holiday recipe-sharing swap.
To collect the recipes, use a communication platform or employee experience tool where people can comment on their favorite recipes and interact with one another. Then, gather all of these holiday recipes together and create a holiday recipe book for your team.
Looking for a fun way to take it to the next level? Ask for recipes for entrees, party apps, or if you have any mixologists on your team, great cocktails!
5. Virtual cooking class
This season, try an online holiday cooking class with your team - imagine pausing a cooking show and asking the chef all your questions!
And just because it’s the holidays, doesn’t mean you have to stick with “traditional” holiday foods! For instance, you could try making baguettes with a French baking instructor, regional African dishes, or Shanghai-style soup dumplings.
To make your holiday cooking class inclusive, be mindful of everyone’s dietary needs. For example, many people don’t drink alcohol. Additionally, some members of your team may be vegan or gluten-free.
6. Virtual gingerbread house contest
In this activity, everyone can hop on a video call to build gingerbread houses together! Take a vote at the end for the most creative, most delicious-looking, and any other prize categories you think would be fun. Award the winner(s) with a special treat, like a small gift card or company swag.
Find easy-to-assemble gingerbread house kits at retailers like Target during the holiday season, or year-round on Amazon. You can even get creative with a gingerbread camper van or dog house.
7. Virtual themed ugly sweater party
Virtual holiday parties can be a bit blah, but not this one. Time travel to a favorite decade with your team in this fun and engaging activity.
You know your crew can do gaudy glam better than anyone, and throwing an ugly sweater party online is just as easy and fun as an in-person affair.
8. Host a virtual holiday movie night
This idea will bring the whole team together, whether you’ve seen every Hallmark Channel movie ever made or “Die Hard” is more your holiday movie style. Use a free browser extension like Teleparty to enjoy a festive virtual movie night together. Everyone’s videos will sync with each other, and you can chat about the movie in real-time in the team’s Slack channel or chat box.
This is a great way to celebrate the holidays. Be sure to offer a variety of holiday movie choices to settle on something everyone will look forward to!
If your employees don’t use the same video streaming services, you can opt for a free ad-supported movie site. Some options include Crackle or IMDb TV, and Tubi.
9. Virtual Elf on the Shelf
Before you start groaning, stick with us here! What if the Elf on the Shelf was a competition between adults?
Assign one day of the holiday season to be each team member’s Elf on the Shelf day. On that one day, the team member should post either a picture of an Elf on the Shelf doing something, or any other doll or toy doing something holiday-like. While many adults may not have Elf on the Shelf, they’ll certainly have some toys - and dog toys count!
10. Host a family-friendly virtual office party
These days, it’s not uncommon to see your employees’ kids, partners, or roommates stroll into the background of a video call. Sometimes, a furry family member might even become the center of attention!
Help your employees feel more connected to their team and their families by hosting a family-friendly virtual holiday party! Keep your activities G-rated and plan fun games everyone can enjoy. For instance, you might welcome everyone to a virtual cookie decorating party or gingerbread house competition (see ideas #4 and #6 above!)
11. Plan a virtual gratitude session
Many of us spend the latter part of the year reflecting on the things that bring us gratitude, and pausing to reflect can help prepare for a busy holiday season ahead.
To share a deeper connection with your team, consider a virtual gratitude session. A few activities to include:
- Ask each person to share something they are grateful for. This is also a great way to kick off a team meeting around the holidays.
- Include a meditation session for thoughtful reflection. Employees can learn to reduce stress and tap into their creativity.
- Craft a gratitude board with your team. Similar to a vision board, a gratitude board represents things your team appreciates, and your team can chat together on a video call while creating their gratitude boards.
- Create holiday cards to send to seniors in nursing homes or underprivileged children.
12. Participate in a holiday food drive
If your team works remotely but lives near each other, consider teaming up for a holiday food drive. Or, if your team is distributed, empower employees to spend a day volunteering with their local food bank.
At the end of the project, share the experience. A few thoughtful prompts for discussion include:
- How can our team continue to support our communities throughout the year?
- What surprised you most when participating in this activity?
- Did you learn anything new from this experience? If so, what?
To find volunteer options, search VolunteerMatch. They’ve connected 16+ million volunteers with more than 134k nonprofits across the US.
13. Gift employees with mental health resources
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the demands of work, home, and life. This holiday season, help your employees process their stress and show up to work with a healthier outlook with a great corporate perk.
For example, you can purchase a Calm for Business subscription for your employees. Calm is a meditation app that offers guided meditations, sleep stories, calming soundscapes, and more. Similarly, Headspace for Employees is a “science-backed meditation and mindfulness solution for the workplace.”
Help employees stay calm during the busy holiday season as well as hit their mental health goals in the new year!
14. Learn about global holiday traditions together
Have some festive fun with your team while also honoring your company’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) commitment will boost holiday spirit and employee engagement.
Learn about global holiday traditions by hosting a virtual viewing party of Discovery Education’s Holidays Around the World. Or, participate in an interactive lesson, December Holidays Around the World, from study.com.
15. Give a modern holiday bonus
The end of the year can be a great opportunity to demonstrate employee appreciation and gratitude. Holiday bonuses are a tangible way to show appreciation, but recognition doesn’t always have to come in the form of cash. Gifts, such as e-gift cards or branded company merchandise, can be even more meaningful. That’s because gift cards have a higher perceived value than cash, and company merchandise can help reinforce your brand.
If you still want to give out holiday bonuses, consider including a small gift, too – this way, you can be sure that your gift will be remembered long after that holiday bonus has been spent. And with the money you’ll save by throwing a virtual holiday party instead of an in-person one, you’ll have plenty left over for gifting. 🎁
Cooleaf coordinates interactive holiday activities and gifting for teams of all sizes. Learn more about the Cooleaf's holiday experience here. It's perfect for remote, hybrid, or in-person teams of all sizes.