December 2, 2020

Holiday Party Alternatives

The traditional company holiday party will be practically non-existent this year as a result of COVID-19 and guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control cautioning against or restricting large gatherings. Still, it is more important than ever for employers to show their gratitude and celebrate accomplishments over the very unusual and difficult year.

Here are some alternatives to consider in place of an in-person holiday party.

  • Virtual Gathering – Although some people may feel like the last thing they need is another video-conference, try to think outside of the box. Utilize websites that offer the ability to come together as a group for a game of trivia or an online scavenger hunt. Host a cookie decorating or gingerbread house building contest. In order to alleviate the cost and stress of shopping for your employees, arrange to have the necessary items shipped to their home prior to the party. 

  • Delegate Responsibility to Team Leads, Supervisors and Team Members – Eliminating a company-wide celebration provides the opportunity for departments and teams to celebrate in their own unique way.  Provide a budget for each department and let the supervisors or team leads determine how to spend it, with input from employees.  

  • Employer Gift – With the absence of an in-person holiday party, employers will not be paying for a party venue, food, music or other miscellaneous items. Employers may want to consider using that money to provide employees with a holiday gift. Maybe a care package of cookies or a gift certificate to a local store or eatery. Or consider providing gift certificates to your employees for a site like Amazon so they can make their own choice. This may be especially appreciated by employees who may be Jewish or Muslim, for example, that may not want to celebrate with a secret Santa gift exchange or ugly Christmas sweater contest.

  • Gift Exchange – Depending on the size and dynamics of your company, you could hold a gift exchange. As mentioned in previously, be aware of your employee demographics and be as inclusive as possible. If you do decide on a gift exchange, there are several websites and smartphone apps that will randomly assign the person for whom your employees will buy a gift based upon participant data entered on the site. Be sure to provide clear communication about the spending limit (think about shipping costs), the deadline date for gifts to be delivered and the date and time of a virtual gift reveal party. Keep in mind that the holidays can be financially difficult for a lot of people. If possible, provide a gift card to each employee in advance to pay for the gift and shipping.

  • Charity – Offer to make a donation to a charity on behalf of your employees. In order to keep the process manageable, provide a set list of charities to your employees and allow them to choose to whom they would like the donation to be directed.

  • Allow Employees to Decide – Employers may ultimately want to allow their employees to choose what or how they want to spend their holiday – a traditional fruit basket, a gift certificate to a local restaurant or maybe an early start to their holiday with additional PTO hours. A quick survey may be in order.

No matter how you decide to celebrate, remember that it’s about connecting with one another and showing that you value and appreciate each member of your team.

Sources: SHRM, “Even if COVID-19 is a Party Pooper, Employers Find Ways to Celebrate” The Business Journals, “Another Covid cancellation: The holiday office party” HR Dive, “4 Tips for Expressing Gratitude This Season – Without a Party”

The views and opinions expressed in the article represent the view of the author and not necessarily the official view of Clark Hill PLC. Nothing in this article constitutes professional legal advice nor is intended to be a substitute for professional legal advice.

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