Oh come, all ye faithful! It’s time to deck the halls with boughs of holly (fa la la la la la la la la) and bring joy to the world!

When it comes to Christmas, it’s certainly one of the better times of year from an employer’s perspective – and for employees, too! The excitement as everyone digs out their Christmas jumpers, Santa hats and starts to gear up for some drinks on the boss. And, why not?! Only this December, it seems Christmas went all VIRTUAL on us! Which means no work’s lunch complete with silly hats, no sneaky mistletoe moments and absolutely no chance of ‘one too many’ and making a fool of oneself in front of the boss. Hmm, perhaps the latter isn’t such a bad thing…!

Yet, it’s still the season to be jolly –this year’s festivities perhaps more important than ever, what with all we’ve endured. So, how do we bring festive cheer to the work masses when everyone typically feeling all ho, ho, ho is on a bit of a low, low, low?

For any last-minute party planners out there, here’s a handful of ideas to keep your team feeling valued, happy and oh, so Christmassy this year. Albeit, from afar!

Virtual Drinks

Anyone who’s anyone has been hitting Zoom, Teams, or Google Meet this year, quite often, with a drink in hand. I mean, who wants to jump on a family quiz on a Saturday night without a tipple or three for comfort?! Let’s pretend all of this activity has been training for the big one: the work’s virtual drinks! Now, you could go ‘formal’ here – that’s everyone dressed up, ready to party, with set drinks pre-delivered to your staff prior to the big night in. Or you may opt for something more ‘freestyle’, where your staff choose their own drinks based on a budget you have put in place for them - which, of course, you’ll reimburse in their pay! If you prefer to have a focus, such as quiz, at the very least make it a Christmas-themed one. And, if it’s you who’s playing virtual host, remember to set up a playlist for some festive ambience and the entire screen will be ‘Rockin’ around the Christmas PC’ before you know-ho-ho it!

Christmas Jumper Day

It’s true, nothing says Christmas like a festive jumper! So, why not have a day dedicated to the great British tradition that is the Christmas dress up? And it needn’t be jumpers either, the brief can very easily read as ‘something Christmassy’. While most might stick with jumpers, quite simply because every UK wardrobe appears to have one, you’re guaranteed someone will drag out the flashing reindeer deeley-boppers if you relax the rules a little. Not to mention the bauble earings, stick-on elf ears and human Christmas tree – that’s Jo from Accounts wrapped in tinsel and 3-metres of portable fairy lights! Throw in a ‘Best Dressed for Christmas’ competition with a few prizes to boot and the team will soon be on board with this one!

Arrange a ‘Kriss Kringle’

A WHAT??! That’s a ‘Secret Santa’ to most of us – you know, that game where you all have one member of staff to buy a gift for, but you can’t let on it’s from you? That’s right, the one where you’re guaranteed some random item like a miniature glitter ball, a pair of lame Christmas socks or a Val Doonican ‘Best Christmas Hits’ CD (‘psst’, Millenials - a CD is a compact disc, it’s silver-coloured and plays music!). But how does this work in lockdown, you ask? Well, some might say it works better than ever, mainly in your staff not having to reveal their embarrassing gifts in front of one another! And while it’s tougher getting gifts to each staff member, what with GDPR rules not allowing you to share personal addresses with your staff, there is always a work around!

So, first, make sure you’ve drawn up your list of who’s buying for who. Next, send each staff member an email so they know who they’re surprising this year. Set them a budget - £10 maximum is plenty – and pack them off into the world of online shopping. Finally, have everyone send their purchases back to the office ready for the big reveal! You can either do this immediately, via a virtual call, where you reveal the gifts and everyone has the chance to guess which is theirs and who it was from. Or, post out the gifts to your staff’s home addresses and set up the virtual call for a week’s time once everyone has received their gift. Either way, it’s a lot of fun and a great one for involving every team member.

A Surprise…

Let’s face it, your typical works do can cost into the hundreds (if not thousands) of pounds - certainly, by the time you’ve paid for a venue, covered the cost of food and drinks, perhaps a DJ or live band, and some Christmas decorations to jazz the place up. Sure, you might have chosen to postpone your Christmas party this year until a time it’s safe for everyone to gather in the flesh – thing Spring drinks or a Summer barbecue. Which is fab, only you’ve got a team yearning for some festive cheer right NOW! Our advice? Throw some of that Christmas budget towards a small gift of appreciation for each staff member and have it delivered to their door (or desktop) before December 25th! Whatever budget is left can go in the pot for a belated party come 2021. In the meantime, everyone feels tickled pink to receive something they had no idea was coming. Joy!

A Touch of ‘Class’

Cocktail masterclass, wine or gin tasting, wreath making – the types of activity on offer this year are endless. Some organisations are providing a cooking class for businesses, others, a live exercise session. It is certainly a good way to engage a number of your staff together, without having to worry about everyone talking over one another - think ‘company-wide quiz’ here! If you’re concerned these options may come in over your intended budget, why not get creative and see if anyone in-house can help out? There is every chance you have your own ‘Masterchef’ among the ranks only too happy to take their colleagues on a culinary journey! Or, someone who knows a thing or two about spirits and able to make some suggestions on the best pairings, garnishes and more.

Be Charitable

We’re not suggesting you don’t do anything for your team this Christmas, although it is worth remembering there are others around you much worse off. So, how about donating a portion of this year’s festive budget to a chosen charity or organization who could do with a boost this year? Try giving a donation to a local food bank or charity supporting the homeless. You’ll feel oh so good for having done so.

We would like to wish everyone a fantastic Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year. We can't wait to see you all again when we can in 2021!