10 Ways to Celebrate the Holidays With Your Remote Workforce

Tis the season for gathering with friends, family, and yes, even work associates. While throwing an annual year-end holiday party is usually a must for most businesses, coming together for the holidays can become challenging when your company is remote and your employees are geographically dispersed.

Still, experts like Aaron Rubens, co-founder and CEO of Kudoboard, stress the importance of staying connected with your remote employees throughout the year and especially during the holiday season. “Creating a vibrant and engaging culture for remote employees is one of the best investments employers can make in their team,” Rubens says. “The holidays, in particular, present new opportunities for brands to bring teams together. It’s no secret that many people find this time of year stressful or isolating, and that’s amplified by working in remote roles. By coordinating fun seasonal initiatives, brands can use themes of unity and togetherness to strengthen bonds despite physical distance. While it may feel like a bit of festive fun, it’s a powerful driver for employee satisfaction and overall business success.”

Here are a few ideas for celebrating the holidays with your remote workforce.

1. Host a Virtual Holiday Party

The office holiday party is often one of the most beloved holiday traditions, as it’s a great time for employees to dress up, hobnob with leadership, and enjoy some free drinks and perhaps a meal on the company’s dime. When you can’t all be together in person, hosting a virtual holiday party on a video conferencing platform like Houseparty, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, or Zoom, can be an excellent substitute.

This year, encourage employees to don their holiday best, make their favorite drink, and join your virtual party. Rubens says, “Sending a gift card for employees to enjoy a meal during the team meeting also helps with the holiday spirit.” For large teams, consider utilizing Breakout Rooms on Zoom for partygoers to “move” from room to room to chat with different colleagues.

2. Plan a Virtual Secret Santa

Turns out, gift-giving is a holiday tradition that doesn’t necessarily need to be conducted in person. Travis Lindemoen, founder of Enjoy Mondays, suggests implementing “a virtual gift exchange program where employees can anonymously choose and send gifts to their colleagues.”

Rather than pulling names out of a hat, consider using an online gift exchange service like Elfster, where your employees can make wish lists and share gift ideas and the site draws the names for you. Then, associates can send their gifts to one another in the mail. Consider setting up a video call for employees to open their gifts and guess their “Secret Santa.” Lindemoen says, “This simple gesture can create excitement and strengthen bonds among team members.”

3. Play Games Online

Playing virtual games like Bingo, Pictionary, Charades, or trivia is another way you can bring everyone together and strengthen team dynamics, while adding an element of joy to the workday. At Sixth City Marketing agency, Founder and CEO John Sammon says, “One of our favorite remote celebrations is playing trivia via Zoom. We create our own game essentially and include questions about team members, clients, and other silly things, like what Dairy Queen’s special flavors are that month. It’s a light-hearted and funny way to get everyone involved and have their mind off work for a while.”

4. Hold a Holiday Contest

A little friendly competition never hurt anyone, right? This holiday season, set up a fun holiday-inspired competition, like an ugly sweater contest. Simply ask employees to hop on a video call wearing their ugliest (read: best) holiday sweater and then vote on who has the ugliest, funniest, or most traditional attire!

Gene Caballero, co-founder of GreenPal, says, “Another idea is to encourage employees to share photos of their holiday decorations. We conducted a ‘best-decorated home office’ contest, which not only sparked creativity but also helped team members feel more connected to each other, sharing in the festive spirit, despite the physical distance.”

To encourage contest participation, consider offering prizes for the winners like an extra day of PTO or a gift card to their favorite store.

5. Send Remote Workers a Holiday Gift

Show your appreciation by sending your workforce a special gift in the mail to thank them for all their hard work this year. Need some help choosing the perfect present? Here are some holiday gifts you might consider giving this year:

● Ring light

● Mug warmer

● Succulent or small plant

● Box of chocolates

● Daily planner

● Candle

● Desktop organizer

● Water bottle

● Throw blanket

● Corporate merch

6. Create a “Holiday” Message Group

“Watercooler talk” often goes by the wayside when there isn’t an actual watercooler for remote colleagues to gather around. To foster connectivity and humanize the remote work experience, set up a “holiday” message group on Microsoft Teams, Slack, or your preferred messaging platform. Encourage employees to share holiday photos, shopping deals, recipes, family traditions, fun anecdotes, or holiday activity ideas like what working parents can do with the Elf on the Shelf.

7. Watch a Holiday Movie

Cozying up to watch a movie can be a great way to relax and unwind during the stressful holiday season. So why not host a virtual movie day, where your employees can stream a holiday movie together? Consider letting employees vote on which holiday movie they want to watch — there are so many good ones to choose from, like How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Elf, The Santa Clause, Home Alone, etc.

8. Do a Holiday Craft

It can be fun to learn something new! This year, consider doing a holiday craft as a team. You could make a wreath or ornament, decorate a gingerbread house, or even host a sip and paint party. There are plenty of classes your team can attend together virtually. Or, if someone on your team is the crafty-type, let them lead your team in completing one of these fun holiday crafts together.

9. Whip Up a Holiday Treat

Between all of the appetizers, side dishes, and desserts, it can seem like most of the holiday season is spent in the kitchen. To make the cooking frenzy a little less daunting (and a lot more fun!), set up a virtual baking session with your team. Send them a festive holiday recipe — or better yet, ask employees to share their favorite recipes and let them vote on which one to make — then set up shop in the kitchen, hop on a video call, and start baking!

To really liven things up, try making a holiday-inspired cocktail together as a team. Consider hiring a bartender to teach everyone how to make their drinks over a video call, then parlay this activity into a fun virtual happy hour.

10. Set Up a Cookie Swap

Your associates may be missing the usual holiday treats that tend to make their way into the office break room during this time of year. To bring a little sweetness to your remote holiday celebrations, consider setting up a cookie swap. Similar to a Secret Santa gift exchange, workers can bake their favorite holiday cookies and send them to one another in the mail. All you need is a list of names, addresses, and any allergy or food sensitivities to bring this delicious activity to life.

Nurturing an Inclusive Work Culture and Work-Life Balance is Key

As we celebrate the holidays, remember that how we treat our remote workforce now can shape the success of the coming year. Prioritizing an inclusive culture and work-life balance not only retains top talent but also attracts new prospects in the new year. Highlight these practices in your employer branding across social media, networking platforms, and career sites. For more insights, check out Monster’s Employer Branding Guide – a valuable resource for fostering a thriving workplace culture. Cheers to a balanced and successful year ahead!