4 tips for planning an office Christmas party during COVID

By Robert Half on 4 December 2020

With the year-end of 2020 only a few weeks away, your company may already be planning an office Christmas party to boost staff morale and celebrate the end of an extraordinarily challenging year.

However, with COVID-19 still impacting many around the world, even countries such as Australia that are seeing the remnants of COVID-19 in the rear-view mirror will still have to contend with end-of-year parties requiring COVID-safe precautions and considerations.

If you are still brainstorming ways to plan an office Christmas party this year, here are some thoughts on how keep the seasonal spirit and ensure you organise a safe, supportive, and inclusive celebration.

1. Keep with traditions

After a year of COVID-19-induced hardships, one item near the top of many wish lists this holiday season is a desire to return to some level of normalcy.

Keeping the tradition of established office parties could be just what employees and colleagues are craving most in order to regroup, reflect and celebrate the passing of a year in which ‘surviving’ has taken on a new meaning (personally as well as professionally).

If you are planning on hosting a company Christmas party, take the time to ensure you are complying with COVID-safe government regulations and take precautions to ensure staff are properly briefed and informed prior.

2. New ways to celebrate

Conversely, maybe what your team needs is an entirely new approach to how you would typically celebrate the end-of-year. If you feel this is the case, ‘activity-based’ could be a new approach to consider that encourages team collaboration and involvement.

Regardless of whether your team is ‘together’ in-person or virtually, all manner of activities – from making decorations, cooking a meal, quizzes, watching a movie, staging a beverage tasting to playing outdoor games, or belting out your favourite karaoke tune – all of these and more lend themselves to ‘hybrid’ party environments.

Whatever your plans may be, remember that end-of-year celebrations should keep inclusivity as a top priority.

3. A time for giving

This year has been tough on many individuals, both professionally and personally. However, the misfortunes of 2020 may present an opportunity for your company to perform some good.

A fitting way to end this tumultuous year could be to empower your employees with the time and resources to support their local communities and extend a helping hand to those in need of assistance.

Whether it be helping to cook meals for frontline healthcare staff, a gift of groceries for a time-starved key worker, a donation to a mental health charity or assistance for a local care facility, giving this year is very much about giving back coming out of this pandemic.

Even taking the time to write letters or emails of thanks to stakeholders, clients or suppliers could go a long way to give your appreciation.

4. Something low key

During a year which has been confronting for so many, “I’d rather not celebrate” is an entirely valid response that you may receive from staff who are looking for either something low key or nothing organised at all.

Employees could be feeling burnt out and may simply desire to disengage from work entirely in the lead-up to the festive season. Regardless, if you are a team leader or senior manager, remember to:

  • Keep lines of communication open
  • Encourage staff to be transparent about any current challenges
  • Bring in temporary professionals to ensure business momentum
  • Keep a watchful eye on stress levels and mental health

The pandemic will have undoubtedly taken its toll on many workers this year. Empathy and open communications could well be a supporting and empowering gift which lasts longer than an office party, and well beyond this holiday period for your staff.

Planning an office Christmas party in 2020

So, whether you are planning an extravagant office Christmas party, or you are looking for holistic and thoughtful ideas to meet the needs of your team, take the time to remember that while this year’s festive celebrations will undeniably be different to that of year’s past, the traditions of giving and support should remain a top priority to ensure your staff are motivated for the New Year.

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